Horticultural gardens in Europe began as apothecary gardens. Universities established them on their grounds so that medical students could become familiar with medicinal plants.
(Photo: Hortus Botanicus at the university of Leiden, the oldest University in the Netherlands. The garden was installed in 1594, and this is from the oldest section of the garden.)
During the Age of Exploration exotic plants were pouring into Europe from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Curators of the horticultural gardens added these curiosities to their plant collections.
What began as a few additions to the existing beds evolved into the horticultural gardens we enjoy visiting today.
Master Gardener Ann Bartlett faithfully provides a garden article four Saturdays a month. But when months have five Saturdays, Ann figures enough is enough! She came up with these fifth-Saturday "tidbits" to give herself a break, and readers enough of a garden fix to tide them over until next week. You can email Ann at firstname.lastname@example.org.