This essay discusses ways of thinking about botanic gardens that pay close attention to their particularity as designed spaces, dependent on technique, that nonetheless purport to present (and preserve) natural entities (plants). I introduce
an account of what gardens are, how botanic gardens differ from other gardens, and how this particular form of garden arose in history. After this I contrast three ways of understanding the function of botanic gardens in the present time: as sites of recreation, of conservation or of encounter
with nature. Finally I develop the idea that these gardens may serve as archetypes of collaboration with nature. I conclude that, in principle, botanic gardens can model alternative, creative new ways for human beings to relate to the natural environment.
Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.
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