Garden historyThe Old Botanical Garden is as old as the University of Göttingen itself and is still located on the same site. It was founded in 1736 as a "hortus medicus", because botany ("herbalism") at that time was primarily the study of medicinal plants and was practiced by physicians and pharmacists. Founder and from 1736 to 1753 director of the garden was the famous physician, botanist and poet ALBRECHT VON HALLER (1708-1777), who collected plants in the Alps and in the Harz mountains for the botanical garden and also had a first "Gewächs-Saal" built a few years after its foundation.
With the interest in colonial goods and the voyages of discovery to distant parts of the world, botanical gardens became receiving stations for countless exotic plants that were still unknown to science, and botany developed from the auxiliary science of medicine to the study of the structure and life of the plant and the diversity of plant species. Botanical gardens contributed significantly to this development. The Göttingen Botanical Garden has always had particularly species-rich collections, and so until the middle of the 19th century adjacent plots of land had to be purchased several times, first inside, later also outside the Stadtwall. 3 tunnels connect the greenhouse area with the open land beyond the rampart.
Most of the greenhouses also date from the 19th century: the Rainforest House, Cycad House and Orangery stand on walls from 1806, the Erica House and Araceen House were built around 1830, and the Fern House in 1857.
The garden experienced a special blossoming under Prof. ALBERT PETER (director 1888-1923) and garden master CARL BONSTEDT (garden inspector 1900-1931): the Alpinum, the large pond, the fern piece, the first Victoria House and the redesign of the wintering house at that time go back to Bonstedt, and still today a popular fuchsia variety bears his name.
After partial destruction of the collections of tropical plants during World War II, JOHANN HEROLD (Garden Inspector 1940-1964) ensured that the historic greenhouses were once again filled with plant treasures from all over the world. Dr. GÜNTHER DERSCH (Garden Director 1965-1993) mainly expanded the collection of Central European wild plants. Since his tenure, strict attention has been paid to maintaining documented wild origins in culture, thus contributing to the preservation of endangered genetic diversity in captivity.
Today, the Old Botanical Garden places great emphasis on preserving the precious scientific plant collections while enhancing the garden's attractiveness to the public through innovative ideas
In 1967, when according to the plans of the time the entire natural sciences were to be relocated to the northern part of the university, the Experimental Botanical Garden ("New Botanical Garden") was founded in Göttingen-Weende under Prof. HEINZ ELLENBERG. Today, the Old and New Botanical Gardens form a single unit whose parts work hand in hand: In the New Botanical Garden, visitors can take extended walks through the Alpinum, forests of North America and Japan, herbaceous plants, flower meadows, a vineyard, and a rose garden, and open spaces and climate-controlled experimental greenhouses are available for ecological-plant sociological research conducted by the Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Research. In the Old Botanical Garden, a large variety of hardy and tropical plant species can still be found in display and collection houses, which are used intensively for teaching and research by the Department of Systematic Botany.
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