On July 14th, 2021, Google Arts & Culture launched Gardens United - an interactive online resource celebrating gardens around the UK, which is the result of a collaboration between Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum and over 30 cultural partners around the country. From archives, museums, botanic gardens and heritage bodies, learn from leading experts and community gardeners about topics ranging from health and wellbeing, food growing, urban gardening and much more. Gardens United gives everyone, everywhere an opportunity to explore, learn and discover gardens through a new lens.
In over 150 curated online exhibitions, Gardens United presents an enormous archive of over 4,000 items including photos, videos, ASMR tours and Google Street View tours. Learn about how gardens have always held a special place in our lives, how important they are for our health and wellbeing, what gardening can do to help support the planet and look back through botanical history from Darwin’s garden to royal landscapes.
Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum (OBGA) offers visitors a green oasis of calm in the centre of Oxford, and a mosaic of natural habitats including ancient woodland, meadows and glades just outside the city centre. Just as in other parts of the country, these green spaces were a lifeline to the communities of Oxfordshire during the pandemic. With the help of newly captured Google Street View, online visitors are able to ‘roam virtually’ and discover our Walled Garden, Glasshouses, Conservatory, Herbarium Room, Lower Garden and Arboretum from anywhere in the world.
The oldest botanic garden in the United Kingdom, the Garden was established 400 years ago in 1621 as a physic garden for the cultivation of medicinal plants to teach medical students. The interactive stories enable online visitors to delve into this unique history, from a visit by the ‘father of taxonomy’ Carl Linnaeus to the construction of a Water Lily House, specially built to house the giant Amazonian water lily. The lily is among nearly 200 online exhibits that provide a glimpse of the Garden and Arboretum’s 5000 different plant specimens that it cultivates as a living library for teaching, research and conservation. Finally, online visitors can also discover the Garden’s leading role in researching the human need for engagement with nature - how 'living laboratories' can help us understand how to harness the therapeutic power of the garden.
Dr. Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science said: “Our mission is to share the scientific wonder of plants with people. Google Arts and Culture enables us to connect with larger audiences than ever before all around the world. At a time when two in five of the world’s plants are threatened with extinction, many people scarcely even notice their existence – a phenomenon known metaphorically as ‘plant blindness’. So shining a light on the importance of plants to feed a growing population, for our clothes and medicine – and now more than ever, for our mental health and wellbeing - has never been more important than it is today.”
“Everyone around the world can find joy in exploring a garden, and through this program we wanted to celebrate this as well as inspire audiences to seek out new gardening experiences. From botanical art to urban gardening, thanks to our incredible partners, Gardens United has something for everyone - even if you are only looking to plan your next staycation itinerary!” Amit Sood, Director of Google Arts & Culture.
Explore Gardens United on the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS or Android or online via g.co/GardensUnited or visit our Google Arts & Culture profile to discover more immersive stories, collections, and Street View tours of the Garden and Arboretum.