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Washington, D.C.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Sight: #31

Highlights: A variety of ecosystem exhibits, 4000 living specimens, state-of-the-art automated environmental control systems, the 24-foot Palm House, Bartholdi Park, The National Garden.

Lowlights: Stabbed by a cactus!

Location: 245 First Street, S.W., Washington, DC, 20024

Hours: 10am to 5pm daily.

Phone: (202) 225-8333

Admission: Free!

Access: Provides full accessibility for those with special needs, ADA compliant.


Personal Rating:   (5 thumb max)

If you're a lover of all things green and you find yourself in Washington, D.C. with a little time to kill, do yourself a huge favor and visit the United States Botanic Garden (USBG). America's oldest public botanic garden, the USBG traces its origins way back to 1816 when a botanic garden was first proposed.

Realized 4 years later in 1820, Congress facilitates the creation of a garden in partnership with the Columbian Institute. Unfortunately, even though the garden was a great idea, things petered out in 1837. However, in 1842, the idea of a national garden was resurrected with the need to house exotic plants collected from the South Seas by Charles Wilkes during the Wilkes Expedition. Since then, the USBG has grown by leaps and bounds, and now provides a world-class home for approximately 4000 interesting and varied plant species, representing well the rich panorama of plant life found in the many reaches of our planet.

In 1997 the USBG was closed for 4 years for extensive renovation. The work included restoration of the superstructure, limestone fašade, radiator system, fountains, exterior windows and doors, and reverting the Palm House to its original design. All of the work is top-notch and is evident just about everywhere you look.

Located just south of the U.S. Capitol Building, the USBG consists of three primary components; the Conservatory, Bartholdi Park, and the Production Facility.

The Conservatory consists of 10 "rooms" and 2 courtyards; the Garden Court, the Orchid House, Rare and Endangered Plants, Plant Exploration, Plant Adaptation, Medicinal Plants, the Oasis, the Desert, the Garden Primeval and the Jungle, and the Childrens Garden and Meditation Garden Courtyards.

Bartholdi Park serves to inspire home gardeners who visit its vegetative expanses. There you'll find a variety of both structured and non-structured gardens which strive to infuse color, shape and planting themes into their displays.

The Production Facility is maintained by the USBG outside the D.C. area and is used for the growing and storage of plants.

Today I'll be focusing my attentions solely on the USBG's Conservatory. Do you have a green thumb? Do you like to visit places green and vegetative? Yes? Well, come with me, my tour of the facility is about to begin!

Description & Pics

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