Gardening is a national passion. For me, one of the benefits of living in the Northern Virginia area is the proximity to our Nation’s Capital and its abundance of public and private gardens. The United States Botanic Garden (USBG), a delightful expansive space, is located in the heart of Washington, DC along the National Mall with the towering US Capitol Building in the background. The USBG, one of the oldest botanic gardens in the nation, not only offers a gorgeous venue to view many rare and exotic plants, it also provides educational exhibits of the importance of plants to the Earth and its ecosystem. Gardeners will be deeply inspired by the plant collections and arrangements throughout their exploration of the gardens.
The Conservatory, National Garden and Bartholdi Park make up the US Botanic Garden campus. One of the most popular exhibits is the spectacular orchid display. The USBG houses about 5000 orchid specimens with hundreds on display at any one time, and more during the annual Orchid exhibit which generally runs from mid-February through April — rotating annually between the USBG and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Speaking of the Smithsonian museums, you can spend days upon days touring the exhibitions. Save some time to visit the Smithsonian.
At USBG, view live garden scenes with plants from the Jurassic era that predate flowering plants. Marvel at beautiful endemic plants of Hawaii, some of the most endangered plants of the United States. Observe the live jungle exhibit from above tree level. Pause for a while to let your youngsters play in the Children’s Garden. And as you are touring the USBG, record your adventure in your own Family Field Journal — available at the USBG Visitors Information Services Desk. Don’t forget the annual holiday show that runs between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and features garden railways and models of DC landmarks built from natural materials.
The National Garden, to the west of the Conservatory, includes a butterfly garden, an organic rose garden, and beautiful regional gardens, all in the shadow of the United States Capitol. Be sure to visit Bartholdi Park, just across Independence Avenue, which features smaller vignettes that will provide gardening enthusiasts and beginners with gardening tips and ideas for your own gardens.
The United States Botanic Garden is open 10-5 every day of the year. View the Visitor Guide prior to your trip. The Guide is available in several languages other than English. Read it in French, Spanish, Chinese, German, and Japanese.
Again, luckily for me, I can visit the USBG anytime with a short ride on the subway into Washington, DC.
Featured Photo (at top) – The US Botanic Garden (Courtesy USBG)