A botanical garden is not like a regular garden or park - in fact, it is a living museum exhibition. The plants growing in our botanical garden are in reality a part of our scientific collections, along with the mounted animals, the rocks and minerals, and the pressed plants inside the museum.
Each plant in the botanical garden has a known origin - we know where it was collected, when it arrived at the museum, and how it ended up here. Some plants are collected by workers at the museum. However, many of our plants are grown from seeds we have received from botanical gardens around the world.
Being nice to look at is just one of the many qualities of a botanical garden. It has a substantial scientific value and is an invaluable resource for research and conservation of plants. In addition, it is used to support teaching and promote public understanding and appreciation of plants.
In our botanical garden, there are many plant species from different parts of the world. The collection enables us to compare different species, and to observe how the plants change with time. In addition, it enables the study of pollination – how plants get “pregnant” so that they can make seeds – and how they spread out in nature.
Perhaps you have heard that some plants are endangered? Scientists have identified about 350 000 different plant species. Most of these are not facing any imminent threats, but a number of species are at risk of extinction, and some are already extinct. In the botanical garden, we grow endangered plant species to ensure that there is a copy in case of a potential species collapse. Half of the endangered Norwegian plant species are conserved in botanical gardens around the country.
Our most important reservoirs are the monastic garden, the Norwegian historical roses, and the dahlia and peony gardens. These collections are a part of what we call a clone archive. The purpose of this archive is to conserve genetic material for the future.