While walking through the Jardin des Plantes, it’s easy to miss the entrance to the Alpine Garden. That’s by design: the garden is set nearly 10 feet (three meters) below ground to create a microclimate that can sustain the mountain plants within.
The Jardin had tried for years to cultivate alpine plants to no success until the decision was made to specifically construct an alpinum in the 1930s. Its recessed location protects the plants within from heat and cold, with 36-degree Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) differences between sections of the space. The plants were arranged in a more naturalistic arrangement to mimic their native mountain environment.
The original collection contained only alpine seeds, but since then has expanded to include plants from mountains all over the world, with over 2,000 species present on its grounds.