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A Journey through History, Science and Nature
by Cristina Archinto

Born from the modern need to classify, to understand and expand the knowledge of nature, the first botanical gardens were cultivated by Italian universities: first came Padua in 1545, then Florence, Pisa and Bologna followed suit in 1568 with a prime interest to study and the growth of medicinal plants. With the discovery of the New World, these botanical gardens became half “Horto dei semplici” and half “wonders of the world” gardens; places where one could observe, study and acclimatize all the new species that had been collected and discovered.

Since the 1600s all the Royal Houses sought the prestige of having their own private collections, and whilst on the streets of London, Paris or Madrid, botanists and explorers converged and conversed, it was Amsterdam that in 1638 sealed the deal of “The Golden Age” trading with the most distant lands of the Far East. From that moment on, all the botanical gardens were enriched with marvellous greenhouses, particular water gardens and hanging terraces. Now monumental historical plants celebrate together the journey of past discoveries, and of modern scientific speculations in magnificent sites.

If today Kew Gardens concentrates the largest collection, with 95% of known Genera, each botanical garden has its masterpieces, and works towards the conservation of our botanical heritage: seeds or specimens, that allow one to experiment with the most diverse latitudes, with specific temperature and light conditions, and also to examine the characteristic flowering and resting periods, and to protect rare or endangered species, which is of fundamental interest for biodiversity.

This book is a visual and inspirational journey through the most relevant and fascinating Botanical Gardens in Europe. Each chapter will include a short introduction and the many photographs will guide the reader where botanical beauty intertwines with history and science to create magical and enchanting places.


Anyone venturing into a botanical garden is amazed by the countless colours, scents, shapes and forms of the plant kingdom. This book tells the story of a passion that drove men towards uncharted lands, exploring the frontiers of knowledge. It tells of how science was developed by understanding the laws of nature, and the methods used to share its discoveries. Cristina Archinto, through her work as a photographer, takes us on a journey through different European Gardens in search of the deep bond that unites people to Earth, and makes the environment a heritage to be preserved and looked after. How were vegetable gardens born? Who were the real protagonists? And what events marked their progress? Renaissance herbalists, who were also known as the "Semplici" collected medicinal herbs. Explorers hunted for plants in the New World and enlightened naturalists studied herbs in the surrounding meadows. Botany has seen many alternating schools of thought and clashing rivalries. And yet, botanical gardens were the keepers of a knowledge that broadened horizons and promoted free exchange; enriched by contributions from vast communities in which we are now able to investigate the ecosystems. 

It is because of the Gardens, that we have the tools to reproduce and preserve, the methods to classify, compare and disseminate knowledge. These gardens built structures to house exotic species, and devised biotopes to protect endemic and threatened species. 

Table of contents


The Botanical Garden of Padua - Gardens: The Beginning

Hortus Botanicus of Amsterdam - The Golden Age of Exotic Species

Jardin des Plantes - The Botanical Revolution

Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid - Discovering the New World

Botanical Gardens of Rome - The Beauty of a Spontaneous Flora

Kew Gardens - The Masterpiece of English Greenhouses

Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin - The Legacy of Linnaeus

The Hanbury Gardens - The Grand Tour Gardens

Brussels - Meise Botanic Garden - Vegetable Gardens and Nurseries

Botanical Garden of Dublin - The Green Road, Nature Between Past and Future


Title: EUROPEA BOTANICAL GARDENS A Journey through History, Science and Nature

Autor: Cristina Archinto

Text: Alessandra Valentinelli

Photographs: Cristina Archinto

Transalation: Stefania Bellingardi Beale

Text: Italian and English

Size 24 x 23 cm

110 photographs

144 pages

Soft cover

Cost 26.00€

Isbn: 979-12-200-6912-0

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