The International Garden is a crossroads of history, culture, horticulture and botany. It is a garden in which you can learn about the geographic origins of plants and the plant hunters who sought them. It recounts how the discovery and cultivation of key plants have had a profound influence on the diets, cultures and fortunes of people, nations and civilizations. Then as now, our lives remain inextricably linked to plants—for foods, beverages, fibers, building materials and medicinal and industrial products—a linkage critical to our survival.
Cloister gardens, the major repositories of Western knowledge about plants and gardening during The Middle Ages, were the forerunner of botanical gardens and were first associated with medical schools. The Herb Garden and Physic Garden portray mankind’s early dependence on plants for medicinal, culinary and ceremonial purposes. The Native American Plants section, adjunct to the Physic Garden, includes plants used by Native Americans of the Southeast.
The Age of Exploration chronicles the rash of global exploration that led to the discovery of new plant species and their subsequent worldwide distribution. During the global race to discover and conquer other lands, many plants were transported back and forth between the Old and New Worlds, an activity that acutely influenced diets, history, culture, art and religion throughout the world. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Spanish America, American South and China and Asia sections explore this theme.
The final theme of the International Garden, The Age of Conservation, conveys a major role of botanical gardens today—to document, study, conserve and reintroduce species before they become extinct. Extinction is occurring worldwide at an alarming rate. Habitat protection, biodiversity and related themes are explored in the Bog Garden and the Threatened and Endangered Plants section.