The Spanish Cypress, the Australian boab and the South African bottle trees. All of these exotic greenery, with their fresh summer green, can be seen at Seoul Botanic Park.
A combination of a park and a botanical garden, this venue was officially opened on May 1 in the western Seoul neighborhood of Magok-dong in Gangseo-gu District. From October last year to April this year, it attracted 2.3 million visitors during its temporary opening.
The park soon became a city hotspot since most arboretums and botanical gardens in Korea are located in the capital’s suburbs. Given how Seoul residents had few places to enjoy greenery in everyday life, this facility offers them a green refuge.
The greenhouse, the most popular place in the park, maintains a high temperature and humidity to grow tropical and Mediterranean plants. The sound of birds chirping and water flowing gives the feel of being in a forest, and mangosteen, cacao and papaya trees stand closely together while the monstera plant helps reduce air pollution.
Jo Seo-yeon, 27, a resident of Gyeonggi-do Province, said, “I visited here after hearing that the botanical garden was built in an urban area,” adding, “I feel refreshed thanks to the various trees and flowers here that are cutely decorated, and I lost track of time while taking pictures with my friend.”
An open space outside of the greenhouse features plants native to the Korean Peninsula and shows Korean plant cultivation culture. For example, a traditional Korean garden has Maackia fauriei and the Siberian crabapple, both of which grow only around Hallasan Mountain on Jeju-do Island.
Shen Hsing Yun, 35, an office worker from Taiwan, said she often visits botanical gardens when traveling, adding that she finds the park interesting for its plants indigenous to Korea as well as those from around the world.
The Seed Library offers a rental service in which visitors borrow seeds for free and voluntarily return them, regardless of time or amount. Visitors here can learn how to plan nine types of seeds such as those for cypress, pea, sunflower and canola flower.
Jeong Su-min, an official of the park’s Exhibition and Education Division, said, “The Seed Library is popular among people who love to decorate a garden and are interested in plants,” adding, “We hope more visitors enjoy the culture of growing plants through this library.”
Seoul Botanic Park is open every day except Monday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March to December and until 5 p.m. from November to February.