“Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.” ~ Walt Whitman
Our first day in DC was a chilly one. After hours of walking around The National Mall, we decided an indoor activity was necessary. I hadn’t realized that much of the US Botanic Garden was enclosed and was ecstatic when one of the Capital Police told us. Both Sarah and I love blooms, and while I pretty much kill anything green, I happily enjoy getting lost in gardens and enjoying flowers cultivated by those who do have a green thumb.
Our founding Fathers had a dream to create a garden that would both preserve and educate people on horticulture. It was designed not just for the purpose of admiring flowers, but that it would benefit the American people, teaching them about the fragile ecosystem and how beneficial plants can be to our well-being.
It was a testament to how revolutionary the American forefathers were, and how conservation was incredibly important even back in the early days of the United States.
Opened in 1820 it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. Over 200 years later, the vision of preserving our ecology, and teaching people about the vital role and over all importance plants play in our every day lives is still very much prevalent, if not more so. It was recognized and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and is considered as not just a garden, but a living museum, housing some of the rarest plants in the world some being 165 years old.
US Botanic Gardens
The gardens are located on The National Mall, next to the Capital and is operated by the US Congress. Unlike many of the Botanic Gardens I have visited, admission is free and it is pen year round, even on federal holidays.
It is a three part facility; The Conservatory, which is a large controlled green-house, Bartholdi Park which is next to the Conservatory and an outdoor garden, changing seasonally, and the Production Facility, that sounds like something out of a spy drama, but it is actually where they cultivate and maintain many of the plants and is located off premises. Which only adds to the allure in my opinion.
We spent all of our time at the Conservatory which is temperature regulated and rather (welcoming so on that chilly day) humid. It has eight rooms, housing a wide variety of plants from medicinal, to roses, to my favorite, orchids.
The moment we happily stepped into the warm, humid, greenhouse it felt like we had been transported to a jungle. With varying flowers broken up into sections, it was a floral haven I could have spent hours in. In fact we did spent quite a few hours there.
We walked the winding pathways that took us on a horticultural journey through succulents, perennials, annuals, herbs, medicinal plants, and even more exotic blooms.
Each room catered to a different type of plant species, all leading back to the main room which was aptly named “The Tropics.” Comprised of two stories, we climbed the scaffolding like stairs, and gazed down upon the floral jungle reminiscent of an Amazonian jungle, yet with none of the reptiles thankfully.
One of my two favorite flowers (the other being peonies) is orchids. The gardens had an abundance of them in all varying shades. I was in heaven. They have over 5,000 types of Orchids with hundreds of different species blooming at any one time.
While they had their own separate room, many were scattered throughout the Conservatory, and were prominently displayed in “The Tropics” hanging form the scaffolding and winding up the pillars.
DC was well worth it, just to experience these gardens, which are probably some of my favorite I have visited. Not only was it incredibly nice, that it was free, but I loved that the majority of it was indoors, making it accessible year round and aways having some flowery cheer always at the ready.
If I lived in DC, it would be a place I would always be at, and I know the next time I go, I will be paying it a visit.
Have you been to the US Botanic Gardens? What is your favorite Botanic Garden you have been too?