October 21, 2017
Back in 1793, nearly 225 years ago, George Washington laid the cornerstone for the US Capitol Building. It was America’s most impressive structure.
Among Washington’s other quests was the creation of a botanical garden. This dream was supported by Presidents Jefferson and Madison and in 1920 the USA Botanical Garden was established.
If the current President was in power in the late 1700’s he would have built a golf course, but Washington wanted to demonstrate the significance of plants and horticulture and maintain a collection of plants to be enjoyed by Americans for centuries.
In 1933 the Botanical Garden was moved to its present location right next door to the Capitol Building. The Garden is now the oldest Botanical Garden in America. It is also one of the smallest and can easily be visited inside one hour.
Anchoring the Garden is a 29,000 square feet glass covered conservatory. The greenhouse consists of a central dome surrounded by 10 smaller rooms, each with its own climatic condition tailored to a specific group of plants.
The USA Botanical Garden is supported by another greenhouse complex facility almost 2 acres in size and is located in Anacostia, not far from the Capital Building. This little known facility is closed to the public and is home to plants not currently on display in the official Garden.
Across the street from the Botanical Garden is Bartholdi Park, a 2 acre garden that constantly changes according to horticulture’s latest trends.
The single plant that garners most attention at the Botanical Garden is the Corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanium) also known as Stink plant. Hailing from Indonesia, the Corpse Flower does not bloom often, but in a strange turn of events, all three specimens at the Botanical Garden bloomed together in late August of this year. The flowers reached heights of approximately 8 feet. For a week, thousands lined up to check out the huge unattractive flower while taking a whiff of the awful scent.
Other noteworthy features of the United States botanical Garden are the extensive rose collection, an amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and the First Ladies’ Water Garden.
Admission is free.