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Action Plan for Botanic Gardens in the European Union
Edited and compiled by Judith Cheney, Joaquin Navarrete Navarro and Peter Wyse Jackson for the European Botanic Gardens Consortium. (2000).

B. Heritage, Culture and Tourism
Chapter contributed by Esteban Hernandez Bermejo and Joaquin Navarete Navarro, with Gianni Bedini, Fabio Garbari, Philippe Richard and Susan Black

The botanic gardens of Europe are a rich heritage for the citizens of Europe, an endowment of plant collections, landscapes and period gardens, historic buildings, architectural features, libraries, herbaria, museums and other preserved collections. The first botanic gardens were founded in Padua and Pisa in the sixteenth century (see Case Studies 5 and 6), and many diverse collections have been amassed since that time, resulting in a heritage spanning five centuries. In many countries botanic gardens have become sources of intellectual and aesthetic pride and an important part of the national heritage; they are part of the social, cultural and economic history of Europe. Their collections are not only scientifically important, but also of great artistic value.

Botanic gardens have a responsibility to safeguard the heritage of the past and to provide a legacy for the future. They need to look forward and look back, and to work together in seeking recognition of their value and to obtain hnding to conserve, maintain and enrich their heritage for the benefit of future generations.

Seek recognition of the heritage value of Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens in the EU range from more than 450 to a few years old. The University of Padua Botanic Garden was the first botanic garden to be included by UNESCO on the World Heritage List (see Case Study 6).

To achieve Objective B1, EU botanic gardens should:

  • compile an inventory and photographic archive of the heritage assets in botanic gardens in the EU
  • seek recognition by the European Parliament and the European Commission of the importance of the heritage of EU botanic gardens
  • propose resolutions to the European Commission for executive and financial measures to facilitate conservation of the architectural, landscape, plant and cultural heritage in botanic gardens and public access to it
  • work with national museums and galleries, national and international heritage associations and other organisations in disseminating information about their heritage collections, through publications, meetings, exhibitions and other means
  • mount joint or travelling exhibitions on the various aspects of their heritage, particularly at times of significant anniversaries
  • exchange materials and expertise on restoration, conservation and management techniques for the various collections in their care
  • seek to enrich their heritage by working together in encouraging donations and to expand their collections of cultural and heritage significance
  • seek funding for and implement training programmes for curatorial staff working with museum, library and living collections.
Raise awareness of the roles of botanic gardens in European history, development of botany, history of science and plant introduction

Botanic gardens have played an important part in European history since the sixteenth century, when the first university botanic gardens where created in Pisa and Padua, in 1543 and 1545, respectively. They have been central to many historical events related to economics, trade monopolies and wars (see Box 7).

Many of the early developments in botany and taxonomy were associated with botanic gardens, through such notable people as Clusius, Linnaeus, Hooker and Lindley, and many others. Numerous botanical expeditions have been promoted by botanic gardens, some through trade connections or under royal or aristocratic patronage. The interest of naturalists, such as von Siebold, David Douglas, Joseph Banks and many others, was inspired by associations with particular botanic gardens and their staff. Plant collectors were sent on voyages of discovery to distant regions of the world to look for new plants, resulting in the introduction and study of many new species, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the species introduced into cultivation had major effects on the economic history of Europe.

Some economic, cultural and historic events in EU botanic gardens
Botanic Garden of Leiden
Directed by Carolo Clusius, it had nearly 1,000 species from Europe and East Asia in 1601, including oriental species such as sugarcane, ginger, castor oil plant; and American species such as potato, maize, tomato, sweet and hot peppers, prickly pear, canna lily and nasturtium
Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid
Promoted many botanical expeditions to the Americas since its founding in 1755
Botanic Garden and Museum of Berlin-Dahlem
Developed as an important taxonomic centre as a result of nineteenth-century exploration of the new German colonies in Afiica and Oceania
Botanic Garden of la Orotava, Tenerife
Founded in 1788 to acclimate new and useful plants from the New World
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Played a decisive role in breaking the monopoly held by Holland in the Asian spice trade by cultivating numerous Asian spices in the glasshouses and by introducing their cultivation to the Caribbean
Botanic Garden of Amsterdam
The Dutch managed to break the British coffee monopoly with a single coffee plant grown in the Garden
Botanic Garden of Palermo
Numerous varieties of cotton have reached the market as a result of experiments carried out in the Garden
Botanic Garden of Valencia
Director, Vicente Lorente, defended the Garden during the French invasion and was jailed and sentenced to death; he was saved thanks only to the intervention of the French botanist LBon Dufourny
Botanic Garden and Museum of Berlin-Dahlem
Nearly all its buildings and collections were destroyed during the Second World War; the library and herbarium were set alight, reducing the collection from almost 4 million sheets to just 500,000
Botanic Garden of Sanlucar
The Garden fell into the hands of a popular anti-liberal revolution and was razed to the ground; it no longer exists
Italian Alpine Garden ‘la Chanousia’
The Garden was destroyed in the Second World War and the land passed into French hands after the international borders were redefined at the end of the War; but it re-opened in 1978 at a new site.

To achieve Objective B2, EU botanic gardens should:

  • disseminate information on their history to scientists, historians and other interested people
  • celebrate significant anniversaries of botanists and plant collectors associated with their gardens, through
  • special events and exhibitions, to make their endeavours and achievements better known
  • form links with those teaching and taking courses on the history and philosophy of science.
Promote the importance of the architectural heritage in European botanic gardens

There is a range of historic buildings and architectural features from different periods in botanic gardens in the EU, dating from the sixteenth century to the present day: from beautiful wrought- and cast-iron glasshouses to orangeries, statuary, fountains, terraces, pergolas, loggias and ironwork (see Box 8). Some of these represent great architectural and engineering achievements in the context of their time, some are period gems, some are modem; it is important that all are well maintained and safeguarded for fbture generations to appreciate.

To achieve Objective B3, EU botanic gardens should:

  • compile a combined inventory of architectural features in, or associated with, EU botanic gardens, with a photographic archive
  • publish information and mount exhibitions on the special architectural features in their gardens, and their designers
  • celebrate significant anniversaries of dates associated with relevant designers and architects of their buildings
  • form links with associations relevant to features in their gardens, e.g garden history societies and architectural associations
  • seek funding for the restoration and maintenance of historic buildings in their care
  • ensure that new buildings constructed in their gardens are of the highest possible quality and design, to
  • provide a legacy for future generations
  • encourage the design and construction of new features of architectural merit in their gardens.
Examples of historic buildings and architectural features in EU botanic gardens
University of Copenhagen Botanic Garden Palm House 1872-74
national Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin Curvilinear Glasshouse designed by Richard Turner
Cactus and Succulent House
National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise Balat Greenhouse designed by Alphonse Balat. Plant Palace, larger than 1 ha 1853
University of Vienna Botanic Garden Orangery
Palmengarten, Frankfurt Palm House, one of the largest in Europe 1869
Botanical Garden of Palermo Greenhouse donated by Queen Maria Carolina 1860-62
Botanic Garden of Valencia Tropical Greenhouse, Spanish cast-iron 1906
Botanic Garden and Museum of Berlin-Dahlem Tropical Greenhouse, one of the largest in the world 1890-93
Munich Botanic Garden Victoria House
Tapada d’ Ajuda Botanic Garden Construction commissioned by the Marquis of Pombal, and includes steps, balustrades, and a stone fountain with 40 jets 1768
Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid King’s Gate by Sabatini and wrought-iron fence 18th century
Jardin des Plantes, Paris Labyrinth
Numerous statues
Tomb of the botanist Daubenton (1716-1800)
National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise Twelfth-century castle, Flemish Farm, Hunting Pavilion, Temple of Diana, Orangery, Ice Cellars, Hermit’s Hut
Botanic Garden of Palermo Neoclassical Gymnasium, Tepidarum and Calidarium 1795
Tropical Agriculture Garden-Museum, Lisbon Palacio dos Condes da Calheta
Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid Villanueva Pavilion 18th century
Botanic Garden of Malaga Mansion built for the Marquis and Marquise of Loring 18th century
University of Copenhagen Botanic Garden Remains of the former bastions and fortifications of the city have been transformed into a rock garden
Botanic Garden of Cagliari Archaeological excavations
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Kew Palace
Temples by William Chambers
Mock ruined arch
Octagonal pagoda
Palm House
Vienna Botanic Garden Oldest alpine garden in Europe 1802

Promote an appreciation of landscape and garden styles in botanic gardens

Botanic gardens in Europe show a wide range of garden and landscape styles from the sixteenth century to the present day: from traditional physic gardens to modem landscape gardens. Some are associated with famous garden designers or landscape architects, whose work is an integral part of the social and artistic history of Europe. The significance of the designs is appreciated by garden historians and those studying country estates, but is sometimes neglected in the context of botanic gardens.

New botanic gardens continue to be established in Europe with leading contemporary architects and designers, e.g. Barcelona Botanic Garden, Eden Botanical Institute, Jardin Botanique de Bordeaux and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. They provide an opportunity to promote innovative landscape and garden design specifically for the purposes of botanic gardens, unencumbered by the traditions of the past.

To achieve Objective B4, EU botanic gardens should:

  • document the landscape history of their gardens and make it available to visitors
  • organise events and symposia with garden history societies
  • celebrate anniversaries of landscape architects and garden designers associated with their gardens
  • stimulate interest in modem landscape and garden design specifically for botanic gardens.
Recognise and promote botanic garden libraries, herbaria, museums, art and other collections as an important part of European culture and heritage

There are estimated to be more than 100 botanical and horticultural libraries, over 150 herbaria and at least 14 major museums in botanic gardens in the EU (see Box 9). Their combined collections form a priceless resource for study and scholarship in Europe.

Types of documented preserved collections in EU botanic gardens
Country or region Herbaria Libraries Museums Thematic collections*
Austria 6 0 0 0
Belgium 5 3 0 0
Denmark 1 1 0 0
Finland 9 2 0 0
France 19 6 1 4
Germany 32 12 3 0
Greece 1 0 0 0
Ireland 2 5 0 0
Italy 26 7 0 9
Luxembourg 0 0 0 0
Netherlands 7 1 0 0
Portugal 6 1 1 3
Spain 7 6 2 3
Sweden 7 0 2 0
UK + Gibraltar 30 56 5 1
EU total 158 100 14 20
*Such as ethnology, archaeology, biology, palaeontology or art collections. Data from the European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Group; BGCI; and the PlantNet Directory of Botanical Collections in Britain and Ireland, 1999.

Many botanic gardens have specialised botanical and horticultural libraries, containing a wealth of books, journals, papers, letters, maps, illustrations and engravings (see Box 10). They are of interest not only in a scientific and historic context, but also in terms of artistic merit. Their collections need to be stored and conserved properly, but be accessible for consultation by scientists, historians and others who are interested.

Some have wonderful collections of botanical illustrations and models, which may be little known and rarely on view to the public.

Herbaria in botanic gardens of the EU are amongst the largest in the world, holding some of the most important reference collections and many original type specimens. Some herbaria have numerous specimens of plants from former colonies.

BOX 10
Some major botanical and horticultural libraries in EU botanic gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Includes 120,000 monographs, 4,000 periodicals, 140,000 pamphlets, 10,000 maps and unpublished information on the exploration, discovery and investigation of plants and fungi, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; as well as illustration collections of over 175,000 prints and drawings, including originals by G. D. Ehret, Franz and Ferdinand Bauer and special collections that include works by Linnaeus and his contemporaries
National Botanic Garden of Belgium, Meise More than 60,000 volumes, including numerous old and precious books, e.g. rare sixteenth-century botanical works by Dodoens with beautiful illustrations
Paris A collection of royal parchments includes more that 7,000 drawings of plants and animals, dating from 1630
Botanic Museum Library, Helsinki A large archive with many notes taken by Finnish botanists in eastern Fennoscandia
Botanic Garden of Palermo More than 40,000 monographs and a collection of antique books About 125,000 volumes
University of Coimbra Botanic Garden Manuscripts and drawings, including the famous colour drawings of
Royal Botanic Garden of Madrid American flora by Jose Celestino Mutis, of incalculable scientific and artistic value
Botanic Garden of Barcelona Numerous manuscripts, correspondence and notes by famous Catalan botanists, as well as an antique book collection
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh The 75,000 volumes make up the largest collection of botanical works in northern Britain, some dating as far back as 1486

Museums in botanic gardens care for many types of collection, providing a mass of information - historic and contemporary - related to their living collections (see Box 11). There are special preserved collections on, for example, ethnobotany (often concerned with exploration and particular people and cultures); agricultural and economic crops; medicinal plants; botanical illustrations and other types of art. Communication could be improved among those who manage living and preserved collections, both in and out of botanic gardens. Many of the issues they face in documenting and interpreting collections are common to both types of collection, and there is much to be gained from shared discussion.

To achieve Objective B5, EU botanic gardens should:

  • collaborate and exchange expertise and information through other networks, e.g. European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries Group, national networks of herbaria, museum associations, and with those curating natural history and other collections not located in botanic gardens
  • promote access to their collections for potential users
  • communicate with those involved in the management of living plant collections
  • mount joint exhibitions and displays from their special collections, in association with exhibits of living collections and other types of collection in and out of botanic gardens
  • disseminate information on the special historic associations of their collections and the people who assembled them
  • facilitate training for staff involved in curation and preservation.

BOX 11
Some museum collections in EU botanic gardens
Botanic Museum of Berlin-Dahlem Sections on palaeontology and phytogeography, Egyptian section with flower garlands and other decorative plant relics and reconstructions from Pharaohs’ tombs
Loringiano Museum, Historic- Botanic Garden of Malaga Collection of Roman ruins
Ethnobotany Museum, Botanic Garden of C6rdoba Plant-related objects and palaeobotanical collection of more than 150,000 plant fossils; the most complete record in existence of Spanish flora from the Carboniferous period (see Case Study 7)
Tropical Agriculture Garden-Museum, Lisbon Collection of more than 3,000 types of wood, the most important collection of its kind in Portugal
University of Florence Botanic Garden Over 6,000 wood specimens and plant fossils
Botanic Garden of Leiden More than 15,000 spirit specimens and 25,000 wood specimens
Botanic Museum of Helsinki Separate fruit and seed collections (2,635 specimens) and an extensive collection of pollen and plant anatomy slides

Safeguard and document important artefacts, structures and collections of historical and cultural importance

A rich and diverse heritage is held in the extensive collections in botanic gardens (see Boxes 9-10).

A rich biological heritage is held in the extensive plant collections of botanic gardens, some bringing together plants from widely separated and often inaccessible localities for study under controlled conditions in one place. BGCI (Wyse Jackson 1999) estimates that botanic gardens in the EU grow representatives of up to 50,000 plant species, almost 20% of the world’s known higher-plant flora. There are major well-known collections of species in, for example, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Botanic Garden and Museum of Berlin-Dahlem; National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin; Botanic Garden of Munich; Botanic Garden of Copenhagen; and Jardin des Plantes in Paris. In addition to these major collections, some botanic gardens have special living collections.

  • The carnivorous plant collection at the University of Vienna Botanic Garden is one of the best in Europe
  • The collection of annuals at the Botanic Garden of Copenhagen is probably the largest in the world, with approximately 1,000 species from the Mediterranean, South Africa and the Caucasus
  • The woody plant collection at the University of Helsinki Botanic Garden has more than 2,000 species
  • The rose collection at the Botanic Garden of Lyon is one of the largest in Europe, with over 70,000 rose bushes, as well as rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas
  • The Palmengarten in Frankfurt has an orchid collection of approximately 4,500 species
  • The Historical Rose Garden in Munich has some of the most important roses in the history of garden rose breeding
  • The Rock Garden at the Goteborg Botanical Garden contains 4,500 species
  • The Rock Garden at the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh in Inverleith is considered by many to be the finest in the world, with more than 5,000 high-mountain, arctic and Mediterranean species.
Many botanic gardens have important environmental conservation collections.
  • Numerous Canary Islands endemics are grown at the ‘Viera y Clavijo’ Botanic Garden, Gran Canaria
  • The Botanic Garden of Copenhagen maintains 1,000 wild Danish species
  • The Millennium Seed Bank at Kew aims to conserve 10% of the world’s flora and representatives of every native British species
  • Germplasm bank in Cordoba contains extensive collections of Andalusian species
  • Irish Rare and Threatened Plant Genebank at Trinity College Dublin Botanic Garden maintains wild germplasm of many Irish Red Data Book species.
Some of the specimens grown in botanic gardens are early introductions.
  • The cedar of Lebanon planted in 1734 at the Jardin des Plantes, Paris
  • An allee of yew trees known as Addison’s Walk was planted before 1795 at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin
  • At the University of Padua Botanic Garden there are specimens of Chamaerops humilis, the Goethe palm, planted in 1585; Magnolia grandiflora and Ginkgo biloba, both planted in 1786; and Platanus orientalis planted in the 1600s; these are all possibly the oldest examples of these species in Europe.
To achieve Objective B6, EU botanic gardens should:

  • share information and expertise on the management of their collections
  • ensure that the conservation of their heritage and cultural collections is an important part of their institutional mission
  • maintain a database of information relating to their heritage and cultural collections.

Promote botanic gardens as tourist attractions

Most countries with well-developed botanic gardens regard them as important tourist assets. Many now rely on income from visitors paying to come into their gardens. The larger institutions have public relations and marketing sections employing trained staff, but in smaller gardens such promotion is carried out by staff not specifically trained in this work.

Promotion of botanic gardens is often based on the undoubted beauty of the gardens, which can be an inspiration to visitors, but may obscure the conservation and scientific purposes of the plant collections. On the other hand, increasing the number of visitors to botanic gardens provides an opporhmity to convey scientific and conservation and cultural messages to more members of the public. (See Case Study 14.)

To achieve Objective B7, EU botanic gardens should:

  • develop an institutional policy relating to visitor services and tourism to ensure that visitors leave the garden with an understanding of its activities, importance and values
  • work with local, national and international tourist authorities to publicise their gardens
  • provide information for visitors on the historic and cultural heritage of their gardens, their plant collections, research in progress and conservation
  • seek advice from professional public relations’ organisations on how to promote their gardens to tourists.

Botanic Garden of the University of Pisa: the oldest botanic garden in Europe

The first physic garden in Europe was founded in 1543 at Pisa University. Since then, the botanic garden has been moved twice: in 1563 and in 1593. At the beginning of the twentieth century, several of the original trees remained at their original sites in the Garden.

The Garden has important collections of herbaceous plants, mainly geophytes. The living collections form the basic material for research in biosystematics and taxonomy at the University. Other sections of the Garden are used principally for the cultivation of species for geobotanic research, and for research in cellular differentiation, phytochemistry, ethnobotany and the physiology and metabolism of seeds.

Botanic Garden of the University of Padua: World Heritage Site

In 1997, the World Heritage Committee recognised Padua University Botanic Garden as a World Heritage Site, the first botanic garden to be so recognised. One of the two oldest botanic gardens in Europe, dating from 1545, the Garden remains on its original site in the centre of the city of Padua in northern Italy, and is still arranged in its original design. It was founded as an adjunct to the medical school of the University, where great medical advances in human anatomy were made in the sixteenth century by the anatomist Andreas Versalius; Galileo was a professor at Padua University later in the century.

The World Heritage Committee noted that the Garden was the starting point for botanic gardens in the world and represents the cradle of science, scientific exchange and the understanding of the relationship between nature and culture. It has contributed greatly to the development of many modem scientific disciplines, notably botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology and pharmacy.

According to the founding Convention of 1972, countries that include World Heritage Sites assume a responsibility to maintain conserve them. Thus, the Italian national government is seeking parliamentary approval for a grant of 1.5 million Euros to create a buffer zone around Padua University Botanic Garden and to cater for educational and scientific developments.

Ethnobotany Museum of Córdoba Botanic Garden

The Museum has a collection of more than 1,000 items, as well as 500 files of oral and bibliographical information related to ethnobotany. More than 2,500 uses of the items and plants in the collection are recorded in a database. The collection includes items from Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Peru, Brazil and El Chaco. The most comprehensive parts deal with the olive tree, esparto grass and the cork oak in Andalusia; peyote, corn, tequila mescal and rubber plant in Mexico; and ethnobotanical objects in general from El Chaco. There is a grape press, over 200 years old, made of solid oak from the Alpujarras Mountains, and an elaborate ‘chocolate machine’ for making ‘European style’ chocolate.

Linnaeus’s Garden in Uppsala Botanic Garden

Founded in 1655 by Olof Rudbeck the elder, the Hortus Upsaliensis is the oldest botanic garden in Sweden; about 1,800 plant species were grown there at the end of the seventeenth century. After a period of neglect, it rose to fame under Carl Linnaeus, the founder of modem systematic botany and the binomial system of nomenclature, His Species Plantarum, aiming to describe all plant species in the world, is still the basis for our naming of plants. As well as writing Systema Sexualis, he made significant contributions to ethnobotany and ecology, and the first serious attempt at a natural system of classification for angiosperms. Through his contacts and his ‘apostles’, he obtained plants fiom all over the world, mainly as herbarium specimens, but also for the Garden. Several descriptions in Species Plantarum are based on material grown in Hortus Upsaliensis, and studies in the Garden had a profound influence on his thinking. The original construction and layout of the Garden remain, although the Orangery is no longer used for growing plants. Though few of the original plants remain, the same species are grown as in Linnaeus’s time. The Garden, run by Linnaeus in 174 1-78, is a living illustration of the Linnaean sexual system, of his utilitarian outlook and of his pedagogic principles. A permanent exhibition to be opened in the Orangery illustrates the Garden’s chequered history and its scientific role, presenting the development of biological theories and ideas from the time of Linnaeus to the present and with anecdotal references to his remarkable and multifaceted career.

In his home (now the Linnémuseet), situated in a comer of the Garden, many of Linnaeus’s household items can be seen together with plant and animal specimens, scientific instruments and paintings. These displays contribute to the experience offered to visitors, but the Garden itself is the heart. It is said that in early mornings in May one may still encounter the man himself, puffing his pipe, self-absorbedly counting the stamens of Linnaea borealis. The past is a key to the present and vice versa. Understanding our forebears helps us to understand ourselves. Herein lies part of the importance of historic botanic gardens, over and above their architectural history. The Linnétradgarden is a national heritage site.