Are you searching high and low for a botanical garden site plan? Encyclopedia Britannica defines a botanical (or botanic) garden as "a collection of living plants designed chiefly to illustrate relationships within plant groups." However, in modern times, botanical gardens are more of an exhibition of ornamental plants which have been arranged to emphasize natural relationships. If the garden emphasizes woody plants, then it is considered to be an arboretum. Arboretums are often a section of the larger botanical garden, although they may be a garden in their own right.
Preserving indigenous and heirloom variety plants has become a main goal of many botanical gardens. The chief difference between a botanical garden and other gardens is that it is intended for exhibition, unlike a private garden. Another objective is to maintain extensive collections, labeled with their common and scientific names, along with the region of origin, for the purposes of education, beauty, culture and preservation.
You can have a botanical garden in your back yard or on your roof - there is no requirement for where it is located. An organization might create a botanical garden for a community's benefit, created in an empty city lot. Churches often have botanical gardens for the enjoyment of their members and the public. Botanical gardens are recognized as important cultural resources throughout the world.
Important Botanical Gardens
Perhaps the best way to create your own botanical garden site plan is to study the layout of famous existing gardens. The oldest continually operating botanical garden in the US is The United States Botanic Garden. If you can't tour it personally, you may visit the website to study the layout and glean more information. The New York Botanical Garden encompasses 250 acres and it includes 50 gardens and a landmark conservatory.
Botanical Garden Site Plans
There are numerous websites that feature botanical garden site plans. These include:
- Better Homes and Gardens offers a variety of free garden plans at their website BHG.com - from "no fuss" garden site plans to container garden plans, a woodland garden, fountain garden, drought-tolerant, perennial garden, spring garden and small gardens. Using their innovative "Plan a Garden" interactive tool, you can create beautiful gardens on your computer screen, from container gardens to botanical gardens. The software allows you to add such elements as trees, plants, shrubs, flowers, buildings, decks, fences, sheds and ponds.
- Garden Plans.com, as the name implies, provides a variety of garden designs. These garden plans are not free, but they are affordable.
You can easily create your own garden plan, ideally suitable for your yard or acreage, following the tips below.
- Pick out the style of garden you desire - from informal to formal, Mediterranean, Arboretum, European or Colonial.
- Pick out the location for your garden. Choose an area that is as level as possible. Think about the amount of sunlight the area gets. You will want to plant sun-loving plants in areas of full sun, and plant shade-loving plants in areas that are partially or fully shaded. Does the area receive enough water? Does it flood? What sort of irrigation system will you have? Is the ground sandy, clay or rocky? You may want to consider raised garden beds or a container garden with rich, amended soil for your plants. Measure the garden area.
- Check out books on gardening in the library. Visit the websites of famous gardens. Get an idea of the garden style you prefer, and learn from what others have already done.
- How will you water your garden? If you plant the garden far away from a water source, you will have to transport water, install sprinkler systems or irrigation system, or use extensive water hoses. Plants with low water needs have less impact on the environment. Installing mulch will help conserve water and prevent runoff.
- Choose the plants you'll grow. If you choose indigenous plants (those that are native to your region), they are ideal for your climate. Get to know your garden zone and the times to plant. Perennials return every year, while annuals must be re-planted the next year.
- Draw your garden on graph paper. Transfer the measurements of your actual garden area into your drawing. Plan out each section of your garden based upon your measurements, sun, water, shade and wind requirements.
- Plan your garden so there is something of interest for every season, including winter.
- Keep a garden journal like Thomas Jefferson did. Here, you will document your garden's progress. It is best to make notes month by month to which you can refer every year.
- Plant less than 25 percent of the area in turf.
- Providing food and shelter for wildlife adds another dimension to any garden.