Explore Nature Year Round At The National Arboretum

    A visit to a garden or arboretum is like a breath of fresh air. The moment you enter you feel yourself slip away from the hectic life outside and relax. This is what it's like to visit the National Arboretum, which is perched on one of Washington, DC’s highest points. Spread out over 444 acres of rolling hills, the National Arboretum is a inviting refuge from Washington, DC’s busier sites and attractions. Bring along your bike and roll along the ten miles of hard surface roads that wind through the Arboretum’s scenic grounds, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll.

    Established in 1927 by Congress, the National Arboretum also conducts research on trees and shrubs to develop superior forms that will thrive in various climates in the United States. By exchanging seeds and plant material with other horticultural research institutions throughout the world, the Arboretum is able to expand its genetic resources. The Arboretum includes several major plant collections, including azaleas, cherries, hollies, rhododendrons, ferns and wildflowers. Hundreds of acres of natural forest complement more than a dozen special gardens.

    One of our favorite places to visit is the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, located on the Arboretum grounds that showcases the delicate Asian art form. Samples from China, Japan and the United States are housed in four pavilions adjacent to the Administration building. The Bonsai Collection was started with a gift of 53 master bonsai specimens and five viewing stones from the people of Japan and was expanded by subsequent gifts from Hong Kong’s Penjing Collection and the North American Bonsai Collection. What is amazing is that the ornamental trees on display range from 15 to over 350 years of age!

    Across the road from the bonsai collection, the National Herb Garden features an extensive spread of antique roses and ten specialty herb gardens. Sorted by their function, the Arboretum’s specialty herbs include fragrance herbs, medicinal herbs, herbs for dyes, herbs with industrial uses, herbs for cooking, herbs used by American Indians, beverage herbs and more. This is a great places to learn about herbs and their uses.

    Among the creative programs offered at the National Arboretum is Wreath Making Workshop that is very popular. They also host a Full Moon Hike in December, January, and February, and identify tress you see on the tour. It maybe easy to identify trees by their leaves in summer, how about the winter? The National Arboretum will help you Sharpen your botanical skills and expand your garden knowledge by learning to identify trees in winter in January. Whether you're in Washington DC on business or pleasure, the National Arboretum is a must-see destination, and also a great place to new ideas for your own garden!

    By Josh Schubert

    Getting There:

    To learn more about the National Arboretum visit www.usna.usda.gov/ or call (202) 245-2726.