Across the world hundreds of botanic gardens combine scientific research, conservation and beauty with public access, with Kew Gardens alone attracting around one million visitors a year. For centuries they have variously focused on cultivating medicinal and exotic plants, introducing lucrative crops such as tea and rubber to new countries, preserving international plant collections, scientific classification and research - or have combined all these things. Sarah Rutherford here tells their story from the sixteenth-century up to their long heyday in the last two hundred years.
She explains the gardens' design and architecture, the personalities and institutions associated with them, their important role in research and conservation, and their appeal to millions of visitors.
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