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date: 20 August 2019

Botanic garden [botanical]locked

  • Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi



A type of Garden developed by university medical schools in Europe from the mid-16th century for the collection and scientific study of plants; its origins lie in the monastic herbal gardens of the medieval period. The observation of plant specimens for educational purposes led to the establishment of numerous ‘physic’ gardens (hortus medicus): both Pisa and Padua had a botanic garden by 1544, and that at Florence was established in 1545; other early important examples include Leipzig (1580), Leiden (1587), Montpellier (1593), Oxford (1621), the Jardin des Plantes (1626), Paris, Uppsala (1665), Chelsea Physic Garden (1673), London, and Amsterdam (1682). The experimental method that was gradually beginning to dominate scientific study, together with the requirements imposed by the cultivation of plants, soon began to overshadow the aesthetic qualities that had characterized the Renaissance and Baroque garden. Virtually all decorative elements, such as statues, grottoes, fountains or mazes, were excluded from the botanic garden, whose value resided in its collection of such rare and exotic plant species as the sunflower, the agave or the tomato, all from newly discovered parts of the world. Certain plants, including the tulip, fritillary, narcissus, iris and anemone, were particularly sought after in the 17th century because of their shape and colour....

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