Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The USA National Botanic Garden

Well I think it is about time for a travel/garden post.  I plan to do a few of these each year and this will be my first.

 About this time last year I was able to have two weeks playing tourist in Washington DC.  I stayed at the wonderful HI Hostel there.  This is where the backpackers stay and you share a dorm room but it meant that I was in easy walkable distance of the National Mall at a cost of about  $450 for the whole two weeks.  This included breakfast and there was a kitchen I could use to cook meals if I wanted.  There was also easy access to transport and helpful staff. 

I was there just at the end of Winter with the last scattered piles of snow on the ground when I arrived.  Of course I checked out all the historic and national buildings and museums etc. but it was too early to really enjoy the outside gardens yet.   However, there was one gardening marvel to be seen and one that, I have to admit, I had never really heard much about before going there.  This was the US National Botanic Garden.  The garden was set up by the early planners of Washington DC as a national plant information resource placed on the front east corner of the Capital Building to balance the Library of Congress that sits on the back east corner of the Capital.  Back then knowledge of growing plants was a serious matter equal to book learning!

If you go today you will see huge glass conservatories with a native plant garden outside of it.   The outside garden was still brown and bare from Winter but inside the glass conservatories there was a warm magical wonderland.  It may have been freezing outside but inside there were humid tropical forests, dry deserts full of cactus and cacao trees loaded with their fiery pods of beans that make chocolate.  There was one conservatory dedicated to Hawaiian native plants but unfortunately it was closed for repair so I missed that.  Because everybody was tired of Winter, the most lovely thing there was their group displays of Spring flowers that just took your breath away with their beauty.

So here are some of my pictures taken at the US Botanic garden from that trip.  I hope it gets you to want to go check it out when you are next in Washington DC.  Our tax money is paying for it so entrance is free.