Capitol Hill Garden Club In Washington, D.C., Since 1952

Two National Gardens in our Neighborhood, by Sonia Conly

March 03, 2016 10:30 PM | Anonymous member

Two National Gardens in our Neighborhood

The United States Botanic Garden at Maryland and First St S.W. is familiar to most of us and an easy walk or bus ride from anywhere on the Hill. Consisting of the Conservatory, the National Garden and Bartholdi Park, the Botanic Garden offers educational and cultural programs and special exhibits as well as being a museum of plant life.  On a cold day, the Conservatory offers the opportunity to visit a hot dry desert or a moist hot jungle. Among the upcoming programs are the Botanic Garden Production Facility Open House on March 12, a lecture March 19th, Creating Stunning Plant Communities, and for brewers on April 8, the Science of Fermentation.  For more information  


Special seasonal exhibits this year include the “Flora of the National Parks”, with lectures and art work in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park System through October 2nd and Orchids in Focus through April 16th.

The National Garden is “conceived as a laboratory for gardening in harmony with natural ecosystems”. Notable features include a rose garden featuring roses that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic region using organic methods; another feature is the set of regional gardens featuring the plants native to the regions of the Mid-Atlantic including piedmont and coastal plain soils. The Bartholdi Park is currently undergoing renovation into a “sustainable site: ( with the intent of demonstrating sustainable gardens for the home. The Bartholdi Park central feature is the Bartholdi Fountain created by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, creator of the Statue of Liberty.

The National Arboretum just off Bladensburg Road at 24th and R is for most of us easily accessible as a short drive. This urban oasis is multi-faceted institution with missions of research, education, the cultivation of display gardens and a museum of living plant life. It is also an arena for walkers and byclists.

While the iconic feature is the National Capitol Columns, for the garden oriented visitor the heart and soul of the Arboretum are the plant focused collections, including the National Herb Garden, and the National Bonsai and Penjinng Museum and the many varieties of trees including nearly forty varieties of cherries. Walk or drive in peace to see these in bloom soon.

Moonlight full moon walks are filled nearly as soon as the walks are posted. A number of plant oriented societies hold seminars at the Arboretum. A current feature is a link to a web cam tracking the nesting of two eagles

While access to the Arboretum by public transportation is not quite as easy as to the Botanic Garden from the Hill, the Arboretum is accessible by bus from Stadium Armory every day and by the X6 Metro from Union Station and Maryland and 8th on weekends at 45 minute intervals. A bike trail from NOMA to the Arboretum is in the DC Bike Master Plan.

For further information on the Arboretum see:

Arboretum photos from the Arboretum web site.


  • March 12, 2016 11:07 AM | David Healy
    The arboretum consistently fails in its educational mission. Many of it attributes are overlooked or unseen by the public. For example, the Arboretum contains the planet's best collection of boxwood. It's woody plant geoplasm collection may prove invaluable to a world with extreme climate change. It's Asia Valley contains plants at risk in Asia.

    A National Capital Area Garden Club member is remiss not to note that National Capital Area has been, and is, a major stakeholder. NCAGC founded the native plants collection of Fern Valley, has donated over $300,000 dollars in the past 20 years and provides an in kind donation of a gift shop (the Arbor House Gift Shop) to the Arboretum and the visiting public.

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