University public gardens offer a unique opportunity to showcase research in horticulture and plant science, as well as in diverse programs such as art, engineering, medicine, human nutrition, and information technology. Universities, especially land grant institutions, have an obligation to share public or botanic garden research and by doing so not only increase public knowledge, but strengthen the local university's contribution to the greater public good. The purpose of this article is to give a brief history of botanic garden research, show examples of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (MLA) research projects, highlight keys to successful botanic garden research programs, and suggest future research projects that botanic gardens are uniquely positioned to accomplish. It is hoped that this article will further stimulate research at botanic gardens and thus continue to advance the value and importance of public gardens.
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