The Use of Records Systems in the Planning of Botanic Garden Collections

  • J. Cullen
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 1)


The idea that the collection maintained in a Botanic Garden should be planned is, in general, a relatively recent one. While it is true that certain gardens have, from the outset, had guidelines as to what they should contain (such as plants from distinct politico-geographical regions, eg. Rancho Santa Ana and the South African botanic gardens) it is also true that the collections in the great majority of the European gardens have ‘just grown’, without any very precise policy for the acquisition and maintenance of stocks. The collections in such gardens have been highly selected; but the selection has been, by and large, outside of the control of those running the garden. Many factors have operated in this selection, some determined by the site of the garden, others more random; the following seem to be the most important:-
  1. 1.

    the range of climates available (ie the climate of the site and the provision of glasshouses, etc.);

  2. 2.

    the size and efficacy of the staff involved in maintenance;

  3. 3.

    the nature of the material available; whether from expeditions, the trade, or exchange between gardens;

  4. 4.

    the ease of propagation of the material available (selection by ease of propagation being a major influence on what material is widely exchanged between gardens); and

  5. 5.

    the purpose(s) served by the garden: amenity, research, education and conservation, or any combination from among these four.



Record System Botanic Garden Domestic Garden Rain Forest Tree Staff Expertise 


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  1. CULLEN, J. (1975). The living plant record system at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. In BRENAN, J.P.N., ROSS, R. and WILLIAM, J.T. (eds.) Computers in botanical collections: 167–176. Plenum Press, London, New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. FLETCHER, H.R. (1969). The botanic garden as an experimental station; from the collector to the horticulturist. Boissiera 14: 57–64.Google Scholar
  3. YEO, P.F. (1964). The growth of Euphrasia in cultivation. Watsonia 6: l-24.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Cullen
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghScotland

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