Friday, August 18, 2017

US Botanic Garden - A national treasure

Last Friday, I picked up coverage of the Capital Region Garden Bloggers' Fling with photos of our visit to the Hillwood Estate.  After lunch at the estate, the bus took us to the National Mall.  I previously reported on my tour of the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden on the Mall.  Another highlight of the Mall tour was the US Botanic Garden.  By way of a disclaimer, I should disclose that the weather in Washington DC had taken its toll on me as the afternoon progressed.  As a life-long resident of Southern California, I'm used to heat but not heat accompanied by the kind of humidity that characterizes summer in the eastern part of the country, and June 23rd in DC was particularly hot and muggy.  By the time I reached the US Botanic Garden, I felt like I was melting.  I took fewer photos than the visit warranted but I offer the best of those I collected.

We entered the garden through the gates shown here, which were surrounded with attractive plantings on both sides

I immediately fixated on the 3 Cercis canadensis 'Rising Sun' shown here.  While I've occasionally seen them for sale in SoCal, those specimens never look as good in my climate as they did here.



A stream ran under this winding boardwalk

This is pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata), which I only know because there was a sign to tell me so


We skirted by a large lawn area bordered by flower beds but didn't linger long.  Daylilies were a highlight here.

This giant planter was positioned along the path leading into the Conservatory.  I don't know who the woman captured in my photo is but she kindly, if inadvertently, provides a sense of the planter's scale.


At this point we entered the Conservatory, starting in the area that housed tropical plants.  Of course, tropical conservatories tend to be warm and moist and we'd already had enough of that so this area got much less attention than it deserved.  Even I'm surprised by how few photos I took in this area.


This area of the Conservatory was 2 stories high.  (Note that you can see the tops of a couple of heads in the lower right-hand corner of my photo.)


I looked all over for a tag to identify the plant in the center foreground here.  I'm fairly certain that it's a Plectranthus as the leaf's veining and underside color is similar to that of one in my own garden but I've never seen one with this kind of metallic sheen.


My tour companions, Kathy (GardenBook) and Sue (Idyll Haven), and I took refuge for a time in an air conditioned educational exhibit at one end of  the conservatory.  The cool air restored us somewhat but the presence of a large number of small exuberant children eventually got us up and moving again.  I must have been feeling better at that point because I took a lot of photos in the World Deserts section of the Conservatory.



Time was running short, so we hustled across the street to Bartholdi Park.  Described as a "showcase of sustainable and accessible landscape design," this area was renovated just last year.

I captured this view of the exterior of the Conservatory from the entrance to Barthholdi Park.  The dome to the right is the US Capitol building.

I didn't process what I saw here until I reviewed my photos.  It looks to me as if the area in the foreground may have once been a fountain, although the park renovation reportedly included work on storm water capture so perhaps this is part of that mechanism.

Vegetable garden

From left to right: Cardoon, Echinacea, and Cotinus

2 of the many plant containers in the park 

The park's centerpiece, the Fountain of Light, created for the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition to celebrate the country's first 100 years


I really wish I'd had more time to see DC.  I've visited only once before and, as that visit was work-related, I didn't have adequate time to see the city that time either.  I hope to get back someday and tour it at a more leisurely pace, perhaps when the White House has a more suitable occupant.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

18 comments:

  1. Helo Kris! What a wonderful place to visit! I love that giant planter and the densely planted borders, that's what I want in my garden even if it makes it look smaller!

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    1. For a public garden, the exterior portion of the US Botanic Garden is relatively small but the level of detail encourages close examination and a more intimate connection with the garden.

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  2. That's one huge planter! Looks like there was a lot to see in the hot and humid weather.

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    1. Ugh, the weather was truly miserable that afternoon - even the locals in the group commented on it. Luckily, the weather improved for the remaining days of the Fling.

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  3. I wonder how that huge bowl was constructed then moved to the site. It must have been craned into place.

    The condition of the foliage everywhere indicates humidity--must have been great for the plants, not so good for the humans. Thanks for braving the h&h to tell the tale.

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    1. It IS very green in the larger DC area, at least by comparison to summertime in SoCal! I gained more respect for our usual hot-dry mix.

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  4. During my years teaching in Gettysburg, PA (only 90 minutes from DC), I would go into Washington for the day several times a year. The Botanical Gardens were often on my itinerary (especially after the American Indian Museum opened not far away). That warm, moist conservatory is heaven on a cold, snowy winter day. :-)

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    1. As the other time I visited DC was in February or March when there were patches of snow on the ground, I can imagine how pleasant that conservatory must have been, Jean! It's all a matter of perspective! Even with the heat and humidity, I couldn't help thinking how nice it would be to take a sack lunch and plunk myself down in one or another of the National Mall gardens as a mid-day work break.

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  5. This is definitely going on the bucket list. Just the conservatory alone would be worth the trip! Thanks for the tour, Kris!

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    1. If/when you make that trip, Eliza, don't miss the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden just a short walk from the US Botanic Garden - it was fabulous!

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  6. You got lots more photos and better ones than I did. I don't think I even looked at the plantings outside the conservatory, in my quest to find somewhere indoors with ac and a bathroom. You had two great companions to view the gardens with, they must have been fun!

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    1. Kathy and Sue were a lot of fun and I'm glad to have finally met both in person after years of comments back and forth on blogs. Personally, I liked the exterior area of the Botanic Garden better than the Conservatory.

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  7. Now you've got me wanting to go through my US Botanical Garden photos, I haven't quite made it there yet. I'm impressed you worked up the energy to visit Bartholdi Park, I remember when it came time to get back on the bus I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it the couple of blocks back to where they were parked. So so so worn out from the humidity and heat.

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    1. That's funny in that I had the same thought about the Enid Haupt Garden after seeing your post yesterday. I don't think I took a lot of photos there, though, and I definitely didn't explore all the territory you did there.

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  8. Heat is bad enough. The heat and humidity together in DC is murder. Great photos! The metallic plant in the conservatory is Hemigraphis. Maybe Hemigraphis colorata.

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    1. Thanks for the ID, Evan! I think you're probably right. Dave's Garden says it has very high moisture needs (suitable for bogs) so I guess it's out for me, even if I could find it.

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  9. Wow, you got some great pictures even under the duress of the summer's humidity. I missed quite a lot. Would love to revisit also. That giant planter was so impressive.

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    1. It would be fun to see the staff going about filling that planter. It brings to mind images of the playing card guards serving the Queen of Hearts in 'Alice in Wonderland'.

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