A few weeks ago, I was visiting DC for work and was able to check out the United States Botanic Garden. The current structure is a result of an idea hatched by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison back in 1820. Today, the Garden is committed to demonstrating the aesthetic, economic, cultural, therapeutic and ecological importance of plants to the well-being of humankind.
It was a cold and rainy day, and I was exhausted from my work obligations. But as soon as I stepped into the outdoor National Garden, I was enchanted. I walked among the paths admiring the beautiful assemblage of plants, the way the rush of traffic and city noise was immediately quieted and the way you could barely see any other buildings over the tops of the trees.
The interior of the US Botanic Garden is divided into different rooms based on a very specific plant theme such as Garden Primeval, World Deserts, Hawaii, Medicinal Plants or Southern Exposure, all which surround a huge multistory jungle. Accordingly, you get to experience each assemblages’ unique habitat, from hot and dry to cool and humid.
They have informative signs placed all around the garden, so you can meander at your own pace and learn as much as you care to, or just relax on a bench and enjoy the view. As per usual, I arrived within an hour of closing and found out too late about the Family Field Journal, a free field guide that takes you on a fun and informative plant hunting trek around the whole conservatory. But I definitely plan to take that with me next time I visit!
The US Botanic Garden often has many rotating and innovative exhibits, such as the one pictured below that allows you to smell a diverse set of spices and learn more about the plants and cultures they come from. And, like most of the museums on the National Mall, admission is free! If I worked in DC, I could imagine myself a frequent visitor, having lunch on the outdoor terrace, or taking restful walks through this oasis in the city.