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St. Petersburg's Botanical Garden - or, to give it its full title, the Botanical Garden of the V.L. Komarov Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences - is located on the Petrograd side, and is one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in the country. The Garden was founded in 1714 by order of Peter the Great as the Apothecary's Garden, and soon became a center for horticultural research that was the equal of any other in Europe in terms of the importance and size of its collection. Originally the Apothecary's Garden focused mainly on growing medicinal herbs, but soon people began bringing saplings and seeds of rare and exotic plants - for which a greenhouse was specially built. Expeditions to various parts of the earth regularly augmented the Botanical Garden's collection with new sorts of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants.


Today, most of the Botanical Garden is designed in English landscape style. Plants from Russia's temperate zone grow uncovered, while the greenhouses house a large collection of tropical and sub-tropical plants; the Garden's 'Alpine hills' are also home to flora from the Caucasus, the Mediterranean, and Asia. In addition to all this, the Botanical Garden also has a collection of various types of fern, Chinese and Japanese plants, palms, bamboo, conifers, orchids, and much more. Giant water-lilies flower every summer and fall in the pool of one of the greenhouses - their leaves can reach 2 meters in diameter, and can support weights of up to 60 kg.


In May every year, the rare, tropical Queen of the Night flowers - for one night only. Because of this, the Botanical Garden remains open on that one night until midnight. The collection was seriously damaged during the Second World War, and unique examples of palms, ferns, and cacti died. But despite all the hunger that Leningraders suffered during the Siege, the Botanic Garden's collection of seeds and plants was not touched. After the War the collection was partially replenished, and today the Botanical Garden is again conducting large-scale research, with a rich collection of plants from around the world in its greenhouses.


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