Tag Archives: U.S. Botanic Garden

Celebrating New American Gardens Exhibit at U.S. Botanic Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Explore a new exhibit called Celebrating New American Gardens at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington DC. The exhibit showcases 21 gardens in the United States that have created new gardens or renovated a garden within the last five years. Photos, drawings, landscape designs, and project descriptions communicate each garden’s story. These new gardens showcase new plant collections, create spaces for people to connect with nature, and foster sustainability.

Longwood Gardens

“Gardens are always changing – with the seasons, with emerging gardening trends, and with their communities. We are excited to feature these new gardens and showcase the diversity and beauty of modern garden projects,” said Saharah Moon Chapotin, U.S. Botanic Garden executive director.

From now until October 15, 2019, when the exhibit ends, the U.S. Botanic Garden will have programs, workshops, lectures, and tours related to the exhibit. The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Conservatory is located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. The following are the gardens featured in the exhibit.

  • Adkins Arboretum, Maryland
  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York
  • Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Massachusetts
  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Illinois
  • Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado
  • Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, Michigan
  • Green Bay Botanical Garden, Wisconsin
  • The Grotto Gardens at the Dayton VA Medical Center, Ohio
  • Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Florida
  • New Orleans Botanical Garden, Louisiana
  • Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pennsylvania
  • Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon
  • Reiman Gardens, Iowa
  • San Diego Zoo, California
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park, California
  • State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Georgia
  • Tohono Chul, Arizona
  • Tulsa Botanic Garden, Oklahoma
  • United States Botanic Garden, District of Columbia
  • Waterfront Botanical Gardens, Kentucky

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Volunteering at Washington DC’s Public Gardens

The Washington DC area has many opportunities for people with a passion for plants and gardening to volunteer. This article focuses on three opportunities where the entities are not non-profits, they are actually part of the federal government. Thus, they share several unique characteristics.

This article provides a broad overview and compares and contrasts three places. However, it is best to reach out to the organization that interests you for more detailed information. Opportunities to volunteer are like the tide, they ebb and flow depending on the season and annual events. To learn about additional organizations that may need volunteers, view this list of public gardens and contact them directly.

U.S. Botanic Garden

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) was established by Congress in 1820 and is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the country. The USBG is comprised of the Conservatory, the National Garden, and the Bartholdi Park. It is administered through the Architect of the Capitol. It is a prime tourist attraction, open every day of the year, and within walking distance of metro stations.

“Volunteers are vital to the support of the Botanic Garden,” said Elizabeth Barton,Education Specialist and Volunteer Coordinator, who oversees about 250 volunteers. People interested in volunteering at the USBG should first complete the application form on the USBG website, which gives Elizabeth a sense of timing, availability, and interests. After she receives the application, she calls the applicant to set up a meeting with her and possibly another staff person. Applicants can apply between January and early October.

U.S. Botanic Gardens’ production greenhouses

The USBG has a public programming team and a horticultural team. Volunteers who work with the horticultural team work with the plants either inside the conservatory, outside with the gardens and grounds crew, or at the USBG production facility in Maryland (large production greenhouses). Volunteers who work with the public programming team assist with the public programs, such as lectures and children’s programs, answer questions at the visitor’s desk, manage the Discovery Carts, or serve as docents.

All volunteers attend a general volunteer orientation. Starting in 2019, all volunteers will attend an accessibility awareness training where one learns to interact with people who have special needs and disabilities. There may be further training depending on the assignment. “None of the volunteer duties require prior horticultural knowledge,” explained Elizabeth. “We work with you where you are. The horticultural team loves working with people who have horticultural experience but they also love working with people who have no horticultural experience but have enthusiasm. As long as you have the enthusiasm, we can teach you about the tasks.”

Docents obtain additional training on how to give a tour and basic botany and plant morphology. Docents focus on a particular area of the Botanic Garden to learn about those particular plants. For example, a docent who leads tours of the National Garden outside would get additional training on the National Garden before leading a tour.

Elizabeth emphasized that there is also the opportunity to explore a special interest. A volunteer can present an idea to USBG staff who will discuss it to see if the idea fits with current programming. She explained how a volunteer had an interest in conifers and thus developed a conifer Discovery Cart. (Discovery Carts are informal, pop-up educational opportunities on specific topics such as conifers, chocolate, or poinsettias.)

Volunteers need to commit to 100 hours per year, which could be a 4-hour shift every other week or 2-hour shift every week or a condensed number of weeks. It varies because some people live nearby and can easily commute to work a few hours at a time while others live further away and prefer infrequent trips and a longer day.

A well-known volunteer giving a lecture at USBG

Because USBG is part of the federal government, volunteers need to go through the background security check and fingerprinting process that is required of all feds. If you are a current or retired government employee, you would have been through this process before.

Volunteers not only benefit from helping others, they learn more about horticulture and gardening. “Volunteers learn a lot no matter what they are doing here,” said Elizabeth. “They also are able to give back to the community, that is, the USBG is a great resource to the community.”

USBG staff host two volunteer appreciation events every year for the volunteers, a holiday and a spring social event. If volunteers have volunteered for a set minimum number of hours, they are able to attend a one day educational and appreciation event hosted by the Horticultural Consortium of the Greater Washington area (HCGWA). The HCGWA is a group of local organizations that depend upon a cadre of volunteers. Each year, one of the organizations hosts and develops the agenda and invites the volunteers from the other organizations.

Smithsonian Gardens

The Smithsonian Institution was established by an act of Congress in 1846 and is a unique public-private partnership that receives federal funds. In 1972, the Smithsonian Gardens was established to manage the Smithsonian museum grounds and is comprised of the Grounds Management Operations, the Greenhouse Nursery Operations, and the Horticulture Collections Management and Education. The outside gardens are open every day of the week and there are several nearby metro stops.

Alison Kootstra, Volunteer Program Coordinator, explained that even though they have a small volunteering program, less than 100 volunteers, they have a very high retention rate. As with the USBG, applicants need to first complete the volunteer application form on the website. Alison reviews the application and contacts the applicant to set up an in person interview. Interviews are conducted at the Smithsonian Gardens office on Maryland Avenue (next to L’Enfant Plaza metro station) or at the Suitland, Maryland, production greenhouses, depending on the location of the volunteer opportunity.

There are three different types of opportunities: grounds maintenance, greenhouse, and docents for exhibitions. Alison most frequently recruits for the grounds maintenance position where volunteers work alongside staff horticulturists in the Smithsonian gardens. Tucked among the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall are 13 thematic gardens.

Volunteer at Smithsonian Gardens event
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens

Volunteers are asked to commit to working from April to October, one day per week. Because staff work Monday through Friday, volunteers also work during the work week and not on the weekend. Recruitment occurs every year and three to eight people are chosen to work in specific gardens. “Experience is not required,” explained Alison. “It is more important that the person has enthusiasm, the willing to learn, and the ability to follow instructions.”

The Suitland greenhouses are not open to the public so the environment may be quieter than the public gardens, which are frequented by tourists. Tasks include planting, transplanting, and taking care of orchids and tropical plants. This opportunity is less frequent because volunteers tend to stay for a long time. Again, since volunteers are working with staff who work weekdays, the opportunity is also on weekdays.  

There are opportunities for docents for exhibitions but this is less frequent, depending on the need or exhibit. Because the Smithsonian Gardens is responsible for an orchid exhibit that begins in February 2019, Alison just recruited 20 new volunteers to serve as docents. This exhibit is open every day so the opportunity to volunteer would be on the weekday or weekend and would require quite a lot of interaction with the public.

Alison ticked off the benefits of volunteering with the Smithsonian Gardens, which mirror Smithsonian employee benefits. Volunteers receive 20 percent off at Smithsonian gift shops and many of the public food eateries, access to behind the scenes tours or enrichment activities within the Smithsonian, discounts on some ticketed Smithsonian programs, and reciprocal arrangements with other museums across the country.  In addition, Alison plans an enrichment activity every other month such as a tour of another public garden or a trip to see a local museum exhibit. Like the USBG, if volunteers have volunteered for a set minimum number of hours, they are able to attend the HCGWA event.

Volunteer in the Smithsonian’s Ripley Garden
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Gardens

Smithsonian volunteers must also undergo the background security check and fingerprinting.They must attend an orientation and an annual security training. There may be additional training as needed for specific positions, for example, grounds staff may have more safety trainings than docents.

U.S. National Arboretum

The U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) was established in 1927 by an act of Congress. According to their mission statement on their website, the USNA enhances the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term multi-disciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits. The USNA is administered by the U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Services. Located in Northeast DC with entrances on New York Avenue and R Street, the Arboretum is made up of 446 acres and many plant collections. There is no nearby metro stop but plenty of free parking.  

 “We get inquiries from people interested in volunteering from our website or they walk in to the Arboretum and ask if there are volunteering opportunities,” said Carole Bordelon, Supervisory Horticulturist and Acting Volunteer and Intern Coordinator. Carole asks interested applicants to complete an online form. She looks at the applicant’s interests while asking staff how many volunteers they can support, and then tries to match the two.

Volunteers cleaning seed at USNA
Photo courtesy of USNA

“We have several different types of volunteers but the majority are working outside in the gardens and assisting staff with weeding, pruning, mulching, and planting,” said Carole. “Although the Arboretum is open to the public on the weekends, the staff work during the week so the volunteer positions are only available during the work week. In addition, depending on the collection, the staff horticulturist may want a volunteer to work on a specific day.”Currently, they have about 75 volunteers that come in on a regular basis and work in the various collections. They also have a need for volunteers to work indoors on the herbarium, archives, exhibits, image database, and public programs.

“There are some volunteers who have been here a long time so there is no need for volunteers in that particular garden area but in some areas they need volunteers for the spring/summer months and not the winter. There are some volunteers who work in one collection outside and then on bad weather days, work inside on the herbarium.”

They do require 4-6 hours per week, usually 4 hours. “We set up a schedule and most of volunteers who work outside are asked to come on a specific week day,” said Carole. 

Volunteers planting in the USNA’s Fern Valley Meadow
Photo courtesy of USNA

Volunteers learn about the plants in the collection and proper techniques, but they also enjoy the ability to meet new people. The Arboretum is a tourist attraction; volunteers may interact with visitors from all over the world. In addition, the USNA staff put on an annual volunteer recognition event where they invite a guest speaker and distribute service awards. Staff arrange outreach field trips to other public gardens and volunteers are encouraged to go to the Smithsonian In-Service Days in the winter months. Similar to the other two, USNA volunteers may attend the HCGWA event. USNA volunteers must complete the background check and fingerprinting.

Friends of the National Arboretum

Although the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA) is a non-profit organization, it is important to mention because FONA works in tandem with the USNA and FONA volunteers work on the Arboretum property. People interested in volunteering may find themselves at the Arboretum for one-time events or long-term projects managed through FONA.

To volunteer, applicants need to complete the online form at the FONA website. “Many of our opportunities are seasonal,” explained Melinda Peters, Volunteer Programs Manager. “For example, recruiting for volunteers for the annual Garden Fair and Plant Sale in April will start up later. Our busy time will start at the end of February and into March and that is when I will start contacting applicants.”

To help distinguish between the two, the Arboretum manages volunteers who work in the plant collections or in the Arboretum’s Administrative Building while FONA manages volunteers for annual events such as the Garden Fair and Plant Sale, summer concerts, and Full Moon Hikes and for long-term projects such as the Washington Youth Garden and the Springhouse Run restoration project.

Volunteer pruning in the Asian collection
Photo courtesy of USNA

For the past 2 years, volunteers have restored Springhouse Run which is actually two streams that run through the Arboretum and into the Anacostia River, the Springhouse Run and the Hickey Run. The stream has been restored to a more natural flow and volunteers have planted many native plants. The Washington Youth Garden helps DC’s youth learn to garden and volunteer opportunities exist from April to early November, Tuesday and Saturday mornings. The Full Moon Hikes are guided walks around the Arboretum in the evening, under a full moon,which requires volunteers to serve as tour guides. The Garden Fair and Plant Sale is an April weekend where many different types of plants are for sale to the public, either from the Arboretum’s holdings, local garden clubs, or nurseries. This is a purely volunteer-run event at the Arboretum managed through FONA.

Unlike the three federal entities mentioned above, FONA does not require a background security check and fingerprinting except for the Washington Youth Garden volunteers who have to complete a more extensive onboarding process. However, volunteers for one-time events may have to sign a liability form.

There is more flexibility in terms of hours if one volunteers through FONA. Volunteers can work on weekdays, weekends, and in the evenings, depending on the event.  Also, corporations that want to or universities that require service hours can work through FONA to complete one-time service activities such as mulching on the Arboretum grounds.

Volunteer cleaning up in USNA’s Azalea collection
Photo courtesy of USNA

As with all volunteering opportunities, the benefits are socializing, learning, and giving back to the community. “For single events, we provide snacks, tools,and training,” said Melinda. “It is safe to say that food is always involved somehow.” FONA volunteers are invited to an annual volunteer appreciation event and as with the other three entities, volunteers may attend the HCGWA if they meet the required hours. Melinda also explained that the Full Moon Hike leaders receive a stipend because they have to undergo a more rigorous training program and commit to a certain list of guidelines.

To summarize, there are many different opportunities to volunteer with these prestigious organizations, you just have to figure out which is the best match for you in terms of your time, interests, and ability. Some will require digging in the dirt while others will require public speaking. But with all, horticultural experience is not a requirement so do not hesitate if you do not have plant experience. Just show up with enthusiasm and a willing to learn and you will become connected to DC’s horticultural network!

Season’s Greenings Exhibit at Washington DC’s U.S. Botanic Garden

Check out the U.S. Botanic Garden’s holiday season exhibit, Season’s Greenings: All Aboard. Season’s Greenings showcases historic railroad stations across the country including three Maryland stations (Ellicott City, Viaduct Hotel, and Point of Rocks) and DC’s own Union Station. Each year, the U.S. Botanic Garden staff and Applied Imagination of Alexandria, Kentucky, collaborate to create a theme and then to build the plant-based sculptures based on that theme. All the train stations are made of plant materials.

Salt Lake City Union Pacific Depot, Utah

Clock of Salt Lake City Union Pacific Depot made of cinnamon, acorn cap, anise fruit and driftwood

There are more than 20 replicas of railroad stations and two fantasy stations: Dino Depot (a large dinosaur) and the North Pole. Located in the West Gallery, the iconic stations take up the entire room with G gauge model trains running through. In addition, there is a “caboose” tall enough for kids to walk through to view dioramas of peanut farms, citrus groves, and grain fields. Outside the U.S. Botanic Garden at the front entrance is another train set among winter greens.

Point of Rocks Station, Maryland

In the Garden Court, there are 12 Washington DC landmarks plus the new Union Station. Each building is constructed on a frame of acrylic-based foam, casting resin is poured in the window cutouts, and wall surfaces are finished with sand-based grout. Each building is made of plant materials and if you look closely, you will see everything from walnuts to acorns.

Union Station in Washington DC

Statues of Union Station are made of corn husks, tulip poplar seeds, lafi pods, and other plant materials.

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington DC

Walnut shells on walls of Nat. Museum of African American History and Culture

Also in the Garden Court are thousands of poinsettias, from traditional red, to white, marbled, and lime green. Upright, red twigs and fully decorated live trees punctuate each river of poinsettias.

Many different types of poinsettias among ferns, red twigs, and decorated trees

The Season’s Greenings exhibit runs from Thanksgiving to January 1, 2019. The U.S. Botanic Garden, located at 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC, is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. On most Tuesdays and Thursdays in December the Conservatory will be open until 8:00 pm for live seasonal music concerts and after-dark holiday exhibit viewing. For more information and the music schedule, visit http://www.usbg.gov.

Cincinnati Union Terminal, Ohio

Relax in DC’s Renovated and Sustainable Bartholdi Park

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) has completed the renovation of Bartholdi Park. The new garden is a showcase of sustainable gardening. Created in 1932, Bartholdi Park has served as a demonstration garden for more than 80 years. In 2016, a complete renovation started that also provided the opportunity to increase accessibility, showcase the Sustainable SITES Initiative principles in action, and demonstrate USBG’s commitment to sustainability.

Some of the changes will be noticeable to visitors. For example, most of the plants are native to the mid-Atlantic region. There is an expanded collection of edible plants in permanent and seasonal plantings in a new kitchen garden. Some of the large trees and shrubs were retained while others were placed in other locations in DC. There is more signage and more places to sit and relax. The tables and chairs were made from white oaks that had fallen naturally during a storm. There is a bike rack, additional lamps/lighting, and a water fountain. There will be outside activities such as yoga and nature-in-motion walks. Not so obvious to visitors are structural changes such as using permeable paving and rain gardens to capture rainfall, diverting runoff from D.C.’s combined sewer system. The original soil was saved and then added back with additional compost. Flagstones from previous pathways were salvaged to create new paths.

Bartholdi Park has achieved the SITES gold certification for its sustainability strategies. It is the first project in Washington, DC, to be certified under SITES Version 2. Sites is a comprehensive system for designing, developing, and maintaining sustainable land. The Park serves as a model for communities interested in sustainable gardening landscapes that are accessible and enjoyable by the public.

The story of the renovated Park is shared through new signage in the Park. A new Field Journal, an interactive booklet for young visitors, can be picked up free at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s information desk. Tours of the Park and other activities can be found at www.usbg.gov/programs.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The conservatory is at 100 Maryland Avenue SW on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. The Bartholdi Park is across the street. All of these photos are courtesy of USBG.

U.S. Botanic Garden’s Holiday Exhibit Features Iconic Roadside Attractions

With school closed for the holidays, the kids at home and the in-laws in town, what is the perfect indoor activity for all of you to enjoy? Take a trip downtown to U.S. Botanic Garden. Their holiday exhibit, Season’s Greenings: Roadside Attractions, will open Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017, and run through January 1, 2018. This year, the holiday show will feature roadside attractions. Model trains will wind around plant-based recreations of iconic American sights such as Texas’ Cadillac Ranch, Colorado’s hot-dog-shaped Coney Island Hot Dog Stand, South Dakota’s Corn Palace, and New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant. All of these will be made from plants and other natural materials.

Plus there will be the signature Washington DC landmarks made from plant materials including the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The U.S. Botanic Garden will be decorated for the season with wreaths, garlands, and more than 30 varieties of poinsettias — the perfect place for holiday family photos! The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays in December, the Conservatory will be open until 8 p.m. for live seasonal music concerts and after-dark holiday exhibit viewing.

The Conservatory is located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation. More information is available at www.USBG.gov/SeasonsGreenings

School’s Out: Visit the Newly Renovated Children’s Garden at U.S. Botanic Garden

Now that school is out, take your kids to the newly renovated Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington DC. The Children’s Garden is in an open air space in the center of the glass greenhouses. Several new structures have been installed including a large metal platform discovery station with steps for children to walk up to a covered lookout station. As they ascend the platforms, they will see interactive panels filled with botanical materials.

The garden also has a new digging area for children to use child-sized tools and to learn about composting. There are raised beds for them to plant and water at their level. There is a series of fabric and metal leaf shapes at varying heights to provide shade and interest and dandelion metal sculptures with steel “seeds” that sway in the breeze. New child-size seats resemble oversize watering cans and toadstools. A new metal arbor has replaced the old vine tunnel, soon to be covered with kiwi vines.

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) is open to the public free of charge every day of the year from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Children’s Garden, which is actually outside, is open seasonally, usually May to October. The USBG has many events for children and adults every month, including seasonal displays. Check out their website for activities at http://www.usbg.gov.

Photos are courtesy of the USBG

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 12

This Friday is National Public Gardens Day, an annual tradition of celebrating public gardens on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day weekend. Communities nationwide are invited to explore the diverse beauty of their local green spaces and to take advantage of the conservation, education and environmental preservation resources that public gardens provide.

The American Public Garden Association (APGA) manages a database of APGA-member gardens participating in National Public Gardens Day. The APGA is the leading professional organization for the field of public horticulture serving public gardens. People can view the database to see which public gardens are having celebrations in their area but be advised that this is a self-reporting tool, it is up to the members to inform APGA of their plans to provide discounts, promotions, demonstrations, and other great celebratory incentives to visitors. There also are non APGA member gardens that celebrate National Public Garden Day as well so it is best to call your local public garden or arboretum to see if they have planned any special activities.

In the Greater Washington DC area, the following APGA member gardens have special activities for Friday, as posted in the database:

Maryland

Adkins Arboretum

Historic London Town and Gardens

Virginia

James Madison’s Montpelier

Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Green Spring Gardens is an APGA member but you will find their activities on their own website at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Washington DC

U.S. Botanic Garden

Smithsonian Gardens

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

U.S. Botanic Garden’s New Exhibit: You Can Grow It!

img_4450Check out the U.S. Botanic Garden’s new exhibit — You Can Grow It! From February 18 through October 15, you can see tips and answers to some of the questions people ask most frequently about caring for plants in their own homes and gardens, including how to choose the best plant for their space and care abilities. The exhibit will provide answers to common issues about lighting, watering, fertilizing, and pests, as well as how to rescue a plant that experiences problems. If you are unsure of what kind of plant you can grow, you can find tips based on which direction your window(s) face in a four-panel “house” diorama.img_4446

The Conservatory gallery will feature separate sections with tips on topics such as foolproof plants (for those with a less-than-bright-green thumb); today’s popular succulents; tropical house plants; seasonal plants like amaryllis, Christmas cactus, poinsettia, and more; expert care tips on orchids, carnivorous plants, and others; how to propagate plants from seeds and cuttings; and even hydroponics. Outdoors, You Can Grow It! will showcase plants for growing outside including items for kitchen use like herbs and vegetables, container gardening, and more. 

img_4414Throughout the exhibit run, the U.S. Botanic Garden will offer programs, workshops, lectures, tours, and cooking demonstrations to showcase and provide training on gardening at home.

The U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, DC is open every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free. To learn more about the exhibit, visit www.USBG.gov/YouCanGrowIt. Photos courtesy of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

U.S. Botanic Garden’s Seasonal Exhibit Opens Thanksgiving Day

usbg-holiday-show-lincoln-memorial-and-washington-monumentThis year’s annual U.S. Botanic Garden holiday exhibit, Season’s Greenings: National Parks and Historic Places, will open Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2016 and run through January 2, 2017. Immerse yourself in the sights, scents, and sounds of the season with wreaths, garland, trees, and thousands of blooms from exotic orchids to a showcase of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties.

Throughout the Conservatory, the U.S. Botanic Garden will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. In this year’s model train show, the trains will chug around, below, through, and above re-creations of iconic national parks and sites in the National Register of Historic Places. See the Grand Canyon, the Gateway Arch, Old Faithful Inn and Geyser, Mount Vernon, Mount Rushmore, a 7-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, and many more representing 48 different national parks and historic sites, all made from plants and other natural materials.

The West Gallery will house one of the largest indoor trees in Washington, DC, covered with ornaments celebrating national parks, and the Garden Court will welcome back model landmarks from the nation’s capital including favorites like the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and more – all also made from plant materials. More than 30 varieties of poinsettias will showcase old and new colors, forms, and sizes of this seasonal favorite.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. It is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays in December, the Conservatory will be open until 8 p.m. for live seasonal music concerts and after-dark holiday exhibit viewing. 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20001; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

New U.S. Botanic Garden Exhibit in Washington DC: Flourish Inside and Out

 

Flourish- Inside and Out exhibit logo - U.S. Botanic GardenThe U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) in Washington DC presents a new exhibit Flourish: Inside and Out from May 21 (this Saturday) through October 2, 2016. The indoor and outdoor exhibit, developed with consultation from Chicago Botanic Garden, showcases the proven human-health benefits of interacting with nature. Research has demonstrated that when people garden or otherwise spend time with nature, they experience increased productivity, better physical and mental health, healing, and improved test scores.

“Plants enrich our lives,” says Ari Novy, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden. “In addition to providing the food we eat, clothes we wear and air we breathe, they also have profound and subtle impacts on our heath. The act of gardening has positive physical and emotional impacts on our well-being. Research shows amazing benefits of simply talking a walk in planted areas, such as parks, gardens and natural landscapes. Even a window view of plants has been shown to decrease convalesce time in hospital patients. Through Flourish: Inside and Out, we invite visitors to immerse themselves in the healing world of plants while demonstrating how everyone can bring the power of plants into their lives.”

The East Gallery of the Conservatory will feature indoor vignettes showing how plants can bring the outdoors inside in various settings such as offices, homes, schools, and waiting rooms. Each section will feature ongoing programs such as Green Bronx Machine that is growing greens and other vegetables in classrooms and examples of tools and techniques for indoor plant care.

Outdoors, Flourish: Inside and Out will engage many senses – the front Terrace will feature plants to stimulate the senses of smell, touch, sound, and sight. For visual appeal even at a distance, colors will transition around the Conservatory in a rainbow of warm to cool colors.

The east Terrace beds will profile organizations that use horticulture and gardening in a therapeutic manner with diverse audiences including veterans, current- and formerly incarcerated youth and adults, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities.  These programs promote healthy lifestyles, supply horticultural therapy, provide horticultural job training, and offer gardening-based recreation. Programs profiled will include St. Coletta of Greater Washington, Melwood Horticulture Program, Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, the Rikers Island GreenHouse program by the Horticultural Society of New York, and Denver Botanic GardensChatfield Farms.

Additionally, the exhibit will showcase accessible gardening with beds of varying heights and designs to enable people of all abilities to garden. Features will include beds and planters for standing, sitting, and wheelchair use and a tool shed featuring adaptive and ergonomic tools.

Throughout Flourish: Inside and Out, the USBG will offer programs, workshops, lectures, tours, and cooking demonstrations to showcase and provide training on gardening at home and ways plants and nature can enrich daily life. The USBG is also working with the National Park Service (NPS) to share how their Find Your Park program can help visitors connect with nature in national parks, as well as collaborating on veteran-related horticulture programs with the NPS American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial adjacent to the USBG. Visit www.USBG.gov/Flourish to learn more about the exhibit and associated programs.

Text and image courtesy of the USBG.