It’s impossible to dress appropriately for a visit to the United States Botanic Garden; each room you enter is a completely different environment. Set one block southwest of the U.S. Capitol Building, the garden nurtures plants from around the world – including subtropical, tropical, and arid regions. There are a variety of gardens and rooms, all connected through intertwining, labyrinthine paths. Two of the most interesting features are the ever-beautiful rose garden and a room designed solely for fragrances. Perhaps the most unique exhibit is Return of the Titan. This exhibit celebrates the titan arum, also known as the corpse flower or stinky plant. The corpse flower can grow up to 12 feet tall. The flower bloomed for the first time in July 2013, and it may be several more years before it does so again.
The United States Botanic Garden is also well known for its holiday displays. During the Christmas season, the Garden sets up an elaborate toy train that choo-choos around the world. Lights make the walkways festive, and a golden replica of the U.S. Capitol greets visitors at the entrance. Kids love the outdoor children’s garden that is completely interactive. There is nothing the kids can’t play with and touch. Outdoors there are also public picnic tables surrounded by more perfectly manicured gardens with a variety of flowers, all labeled.
The Conservatory is arguably the most popular section of the museum, with exhibits on a wide variety of the world’s natural landscapes. Always warm and humid indoors to keep the plants happy, here you’ll find a fern-filled jungle beneath a 93-foot-high glass dome, and a sprawling room full of over 5,000 different types of orchids.
The United States Botanic Garden is located on Maryland Avenue in Southwest DC. It is overseen by the United States Congress through the Architect of the Capitol. It began operation in 1821, making it the oldest botanic garden in the country. Admission is free for all guests, and the site is open every day from 10am to 5pm. While the garden has no dedicated parking lot, street parking is available all over the surrounding area. The closest Metrorail station is Federal Center, located 3 blocks away and serving the Orange and Blue Lines.