United States Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG), located on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., is the oldest continually-operating botanic garden in the United States. It is supervised by Congress through the Architect of the Capitol, who is also responsible for maintaining the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The USBG actually consists of three locations: the Conservatory (above), Bartholdi Park, and the Production Facility. Bartholdi Park lies just south of the Conservatory across Independence Avenue and is named for the Bartholdi Fountain, which was designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. He is best known for also designing Liberty Enlightening the World in New York Harbor, commonly known as the Statue of Liberty. One of the goals of the botanic garden is to provide inspiration and ideas for home gardeners through its infusion of colors, shapes, and planting themes. One section of the garden is even certified as a National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat.

The Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, located in Washington, D.C., first suggested the creation of the garden back in 1816. A few years later, in 1820, it was finally granted a parcel of land through an act of Congress. After temporarily ceasing operations from 1837 to 1842, it was re-instituted when the Wilkes Expedition, which was commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean, brought back a collection of plants from the South Seas that were previously unknown to the United States. The dried specimens comprise the core of what is now the National Herbarium, which is curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

  • Visited: Oct 2013

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