We all know that Washington DC is a major tourist destination in the United States. From historical monuments to popular museums and recreational places, there is everything for all kinds of visitors here. One such famous attraction in the US capital city that you can visit during your Washington DC tour is the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) located at 100 Maryland Avenue SW. below are some quick facts about the botanical garden in Washington DC.
Around 200 years ago, the first President of the United States, George Washington, had an idea to include a botanical garden in Washington DC so as to demonstrate the importance of plants to the younger population. Hence, the US Congress established the United States Botanic Garden in 1820. This garden is known to be one of the oldest in North America and has been recognized and accredited as a museum by the American Alliance of Museums.
The garden is dedicated for signifying the cultural, aesthetic, economic, ecological, and therapeutic importance of plants in the well-being of humans. The mission of USBG is carried out by:
- Promoting botanical knowledge to the public by means of plant cultivation;
- Presenting exhibit of plants and holding educational programs to the public; and
- Nurturing sustainability and conserving plants.
You can see a world of plants and environments shown in the permanent exhibits and gardens. From roses to orchids, endangered to new, and from rainforest to the Mid-Atlantic, they indeed have it all. You can see a huge range of things across the three main areas of the park: the Conservatory, the Bartholdi Park, and the National Garden.
In the Conservatory, you can find a collection of plants and different environment in the permanent exhibits. These include:
- Garden Court: It features ethnobotanical plants that are used to provide food, cosmetics, fiber, wood, beverages, etc.
- Plant Adaptations: Here, you can see some wonderful evolutions that happened in the plant kingdom.
- Orchids: You can see a collection of hundreds of orchid specimens at display all the time.
- Medicinal Plants: It exhibits medicinal plant collection from around the world.
Other than these, you can also see Garden Primeval, World Desserts, Mediterranean, Southern Exposure, and many more in the USBG Conservatory.
The Bartholdi Park
Bartholdi Park is a two-acre garden showcasing innovative plants in different styles and designs. This park is a demonstrative garden where you can learn how to implement new horticultural techniques in your home landscapes. The plantation here is updated frequently to show new varieties of plants and new garden maintenance techniques.
During warm weather, you can enjoy the ‘Fountain of Light and Water’ also known as the ‘Bartholdi Fountain’ that is the main center of attraction in the park. This park has a wonderful ambiance and is a great place to relax for an evening. You can enjoy watching many plant varieties here like evergreens, shrubs, deciduous trees, vines, annuals, roses, ground covers, and perennials.
The National Garden
The National Garden was opened in the year 2006, and is an outdoor laboratory for gardening in synchronization with the natural ecosystem. The main features in this garden are:
- The Rose Garden: It displays roses thriving in mid-Atlantic when they are grown using organic techniques.
- The Regional Garden: It features native mid-Atlantic plants that show the beauty of the places’ flora.
- The Butterfly Garden: It displays how garden provides important resources for pollinators.
- The Lawn Terrace: An area where summer classes and festivals are held.
- The First Ladies Water Garden: This garden honors the nation’s first ladies for their contributions.
- The Amphitheater: It is a place where educational programs are held. Moreover, from this place you can get stunning views of the US Capitol and US Botanic Garden Conservatory dome.
Guided tours and group tours are available to visit the park. Guided tours last for up to 45 minutes and it takes you through the USBG Conservatory, while group tours for 10 to 15 people are available as well at 10:30 am or 01:30 pm that take you through the Conservatory. However, you need to make reservations for this at least a month before. Due to size limitation, USBG does not offer group tours for children or school groups.
Visiting the Botanical Garden
Admission: The USBG offers free entry to all. The National Garden and the Conservatory are open from 10:00 am to 05:00 pm every day, and the National Garden extends the evening hours to 07:00 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. At the same time, the Bartholdi Park is open from dawn till dusk every day.
Exhibits: The USBG holds many exhibits throughout the year. As of now, you can see the ongoing exhibits named “Wall Flowers: Botanic Murals” (January 31 to October 15, 2018) and “Botanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora” (May 4 to October 15, 2018). There is also an upcoming exhibit “Season’s Greenings: All Aboard” scheduled from November 22, 2018 to January 1, 2019.
Photography: Visitors can take photographs of public areas. However, commercial use of the pictures is prohibited.