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The US Botanic Garden is the oldest operating botanic garden in the country. It is located right near the Congress building in Washington D.C and is managed by the Architect of the Capitol. It is a popular tourist attraction and provides visitors with a lush green escape from all concrete of the monuments and museums in the National Mall.
The idea for a botanic garden in Washington D.C first began in 1816 and was supported by the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences and the Washington Botanical Society. Four years later, then president, James Monroe set aside some swampy land about 80 feet from the Capitol for the building of a "national greenhouse."
During the next several years until 1926, the land was drained and the garden was built and expanded. The Columbian Institution collected trees, plants and shrubs from all over the world. Many of these were from areas in the Pacific Ocean which were gathered during the expedition of the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress between 1838 and 1842.
The US Botanic Garden was officially established in 1820, however it faced many hardships and financial woes during the next half century, and Congress decided to move the garden to the southwest side of the Capitol in 1933. Today the Botanic Garden has over 10,000 plant specimens, some of which date back to over 165 years ago.
The Botanic Garden has three main parts. First you will find the historic conservator; the Lord & Burnham Greenhouse which has eight garden rooms under glass and over 28,000 sq. ft. of space. This is the most popular part of the garden and has different plant exhibits. Some of these include; jungle species, plants from Hawaii, rare and endangered plants, desert plants, medicinal plants, Garden primeval, and many others.
The second part of the botanic garden is the Bartholdi Park which features the Bartholdi fountain and located across the Independence Avenue from the Conservatory. The fountain was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who also designed the Statue of Liberty.This park has many different plant themes, innovative designs, colors, and gardens and is designed to inspire and provide home gardeners.
The third part of the US Botanic Garden is the National Garden area which is a beautifully-landscaped outdoors park that is definitely worth a visit. Here you will find different types ofgardens such as the Rose Garden where you will find many varieties of roses, the Butterfly Garden, the First Ladies' Water Garden and the Regional Garden.
Besides the permanent exhibits, there are also temporary and seasonal exhibits that take place all year-long that look at different types of trees and plants and explore other botanical themes.The Conservatory is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, the National Garden is open during the summer from May 28 to September 5 from 10 am to 7 pm, and Bartholdi Park is open from dawn to dusk of every day. Admission to the US Botanic Garden is free. If you get hungry, note that there are no dining facilities in the garden, but there are outdoor dining tables at the conservatory where you can bring your lunch.
If you want to fully explore the botanic garden and learn everything about its history, ask the visitor information desk upon your arrival to see if there are any scheduled tours available for that day.
The US Botanic Garden is located at 100 Maryland Avenue SW in Washington, DC.