Located in the northeast part of Washington D.C., the National Arboretum is a tranquil oasis in the bustling city. Spanning over 400 acres, this living museum is dedicated to showcasing a diverse collection of trees, shrubs, and plants from around the world. Visitors can wander through various gardens and collections, enjoy stunning views of the Capitol building and city skyline, and learn about the importance of conservation and sustainable landscaping.
Established in 1927 by an act of Congress, the National Arboretum was initially created as a research facility to develop new plant species and investigate ways to combat plant diseases. Over the years, the Arboretum has expanded its mission to include public education and conservation efforts. Today, the Arboretum is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.
Gardens and Collections
The National Arboretum is home to an extensive collection of plants, with over 446,000 specimens representing 7,000 different species. Visitors can explore various gardens and collections, including:
- The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum: Featuring over 150 specimens of bonsai and penjing, a Chinese style of miniature landscapes, this collection is one of the largest in the world.
- The Asian Collections: A series of gardens showcasing plants from East Asia, including the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Korean Bell Garden.
- The National Herb Garden: A diverse collection of herbs, arranged by theme and use, such as culinary herbs, fragrant herbs, and medicinal herbs.
- The Azalea Collection: A stunning display of over 10,000 azaleas, with peak bloom occurring in mid-April.
- The Fern Valley Native Plant Collection: A collection of ferns, wildflowers, and other native plants, representing the diversity of plant life found in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The National Arboretum is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed on Christmas Day). Admission to the Arboretum is free, though some attractions, such as the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, require an entrance fee. Visitors can take a guided tram tour or walk the many paths and trails to explore the gardens and collections. The Arboretum also offers a variety of educational programs and events, including workshops, lectures, and children’s activities.
The National Arboretum is a unique and beautiful destination in the heart of Washington D.C. Whether you’re a nature lover, a plant enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat from the city, the Arboretum offers something for everyone. Plan your visit today and discover the beauty and diversity of this living museum.