Each year about 10% of the Earth’s flora disappears. Some of the world’s rarest plants no longer found in the wild and from all of the Earth’s climate zones are grown in St. Petersburg’s very own Botanical Gardens. The gardens were founded in 1714 on one of the islands on the Neva delta, following the orders of Peter the Great. The gardens started out as simply a chemist’s garden, where plants were grown for medicinal purposes, and later became a place to where people brought more exotic species. Over a 300-year period, the St. Petersburg Botanical Gardens have managed to collect aspects of nature’s beauty from all of the Earth’s continents, totaling 80,000 plant specimens. In the city’s northern climate scientists have succeeded in creating an environment conducive to cultivating capricious, southern plants. Admire the blooming azaleas and orchids and the exotic species of cacti and palm trees at the Botanical Gardens, which gets hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Aptekarsky Island is home to the most precious collection of flora to which only the most limited group of scientists have access. Eugenia Altfeld visited the collection and got to see the herbarium, which was put together by Peter the Great’s personal physician.