United States Botanical Gardens (D.C.)


United States Botanical Gardens, Washington, D.C. 2/17/09


United States Botanical Gardens: (A HREF=”http://www.usbg.gov/”>http://www.usbg.gov/)

is one of the Nation’s most important botanical gardens. It is located on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle, at the east end of the National Mall. The facility is supervised by the Congress through the Architect of the Capitol who is the groundskeeper of the Capitol. Open daily even on federal holidays (except June 3) until 5 pm. It is the oldest and most continually-operating botanical gardens in the U.S. In 1838 Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. During this trip (the “Wilkes Expedition”), Wilkes collected live and dried specimens of plants and was one of the first to use wardian cases to maintain live plants on long voyages. Wilkes returned in 1842 with a massive collection of plants previously unknown in the United States. These dried specimens comprised the core of what is now the National Herbarium, a herbarium curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The live specimens and seeds came to be housed in the Old Patent Office greenhouse, and were cared for there until 1850. At that time, a botanic garden was built to house the collection in front of the Capitol, where the Capitol reflecting pool is now located. The Building was moved to its present location in 1933 just to the southwest of the Capitol, bordered by Maryland Avenue on the north, First Street on the east, Independence Avenue on the south, and Third Street on the west. The Gardens are separated into the following sections;
  • The Garden Court
  • Rare and Endangered Plants (rare species, endangered species)
  • Plant Exploration
  • Orchid House (orchids)
  • Medicinal Plants (medicinal plants)
  • Desert (desert species)
  • Oasis (oasis)
  • Garden Primeval (primeval)
  • Plant Adaptation
  • Jungle (jungle species; this is the largest of the rooms, and includes a second-story catwalk so that the jungle canopy may be observed from both below and above)
  • Children’s Garden (courtyard; features many thriving temperate annuals used to encourage interest in plants)
  • Southern Exposure (courtyard),on the south side of the building, is surrounded by glass walls, receiving more warmth. It features many plants from the Southeast and Southwest, which would not be able to live in the colder District of Columbia climate if not for the microclimate)

The Oasis and administrative offices are the only places in the complex with air conditioning. Each room is closely monitored by a computer-operated sensors to maintain the environment best suited to the plants in that room. Humidity, sunlight and temperature are regulated by means of a misting system, retractable shades and levered windows. All plants are watered daily by hand. The gardens are fragrant, beautiful, and not to be missed when visiting Washington, D.C. Rating: 5+ stars out of 5.


U.S. Botanical Gardens, D.C. 2/17/09


Jungle room, U.S. Botanical Gardens, D.C. 2/17/09


Orchids 2/17/09


Orchids 2/17/09


Botanical Gardens 2/17/09


Botanical Gardens 2/17/09


Botanical Gardens 2/17/09

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