The two most important gardens in the United States are the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx Park, New York City (est. 1891) and the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Mo. (est. c.1860 and affiliated with Washington Univ.). The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, formerly Blaksley Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara, Calif. (est. 1926), is noted for its collection of desert and subtropical ornamental plants. Other well-known botanical gardens are the Arnold Arboretum, near Boston, Mass. (est. 1872 as part of Harvard); Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, N.Y. (est. 1910); Highland and Durand-Eastman parks, Rochester, N.Y.; Bartram's Gardens, Philadelphia (founded 1728); the United States Botanic Gardens (est. 1820) and the National Arboretum (est. 1927), Washington, D.C.; Fairchild Tropical Garden, Coconut Grove, Fla. (est. 1938); Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth, Tex. (est. 1933); Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden, Anaheim, Calif. (est. 1927); Huntington Botanical Garden, San Marino, Calif; the botanical gardens at Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, Canada; and the numerous botanical gardens of Europe, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, known as Kew Gardens, London; and the Jardin des Plantes, Paris.
See D. Wyman, The Arboretums and Botanical Gardens of North America (rev. ed. 1959); V. Heywood et al., ed., International Directory of Botanical Gardens (5th ed. 1990).
Originally, a collection of living plants designed to illustrate relationships within plant groups. Most modern botanical gardens are concerned primarily with exhibiting ornamental plants in a scheme that emphasizes natural relationships. A display garden of mostly woody plants (shrubs and trees) is often called an arboretum. The botanical garden as an institution can be traced to ancient China and many Mediterranean countries, where such gardens were often centers for raising plants used for food and medicines. Botanical gardens are also reservoirs of valuable heritable characteristics, potentially important in the breeding of new varieties of plants. Still another function is the training of gardeners. The world's most famous botanical garden is Kew Gardens.
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Other European towns and universities then followed suit:
Egypt has several botanical gardens. One them, the Orman Garden in Giza, is over 130 years old.