Many people associate botanical gardens purely with plants and maybe a leisurely Sunday afternoon stroll and a picnic but many of them, especially those of national prominence, have a rich history and Dublin's botanical gardens are no exception.
The Royal Dublin Society first established the botanical garden in the late 1800s. As with many botanical gardens during this time, its principal purpose was to study plants and how they could be utilized for human consumption and, more importantly, for medicines.
By the middle of the 19th century the focus had changed and more emphasis was placed on collecting and maintaining plants from around the world. As a result, Dublin's botanical gardens have a wide range of interesting plants from all parts of the globe as well as native and rare species.
One of the curators, David Moore, predicted the potato blight problem in Ireland in 1845. This disease resulted in the devastating famine, which wiped out a large percentage of the Irish population and led to thousands of people immigrating to other countries.
Today the gardens are very popular with both locals and visitors and cover an area of approximately 20 hectares. The gardens are situated beside the River Tolka and are very well maintained. Within the gardens is a pond with plenty of wildlife.
There is a main visitor and education center, with friendly staff, lots of information and a cafe. There is also a lecture theatre, a good place to rest your legs, which shows short films about the gardens and is available in several languages.
The gardens are divided into specific areas depending on the type of plant on show. These are displayed in both indoor and outdoor venues and include over 20,000 different species such as palms, orchids, flowers including a beautiful rose garden, ferns, succulents and alpine plants. Many of these species are housed in large, impressive greenhouses.
The Botanical Gardens are open every day of the week except on Christmas Day. Opening and closing times do vary depending on the day of the week and the season.
Guided tours can be taken outside these times but you need to pre-book and pay a fee. You can book these at the Visitor Center.
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