Washington DC – National Arboretum

Beautiful in every season, and now as the days move from spring to summer, it is a special opportunity to see America’s Flora in this unique garden which few visitors learn about.

The National Arboretum is an urban haven, which few can equal, yet it’s only 2.2 miles from the Capitol Building (otherwise known as “Congress”). It is “world’s away”, in every sense. Many people use it as a quiet refuge, and it’s used by families and picnickers and cyclists on a regular basis.

But, this area is reached by a busy thoroughfare (New York Avenue, NE) going through what has been described as a “tacky”, depressed, impoverished part of Washington. People don’t talk about any “incidents” now, but you should ask for local advice from your host before you go.

But, once inside, this is a nature reserve that has no peer in the City. The National Mall may fit 1 million people, but it’s only a big lawn, in Nature’s terms. Yes, nothing comes close to the National Arboretum, and those who roam this 446 acre realm are just enraptured.

It is possible to come to the Arboretum by Metro and transfer by bus and then walk at least 4 very long blocks, but that’s not optimal. See: Washington DC Metro Trip Planner.

It’s best to come by car (either your own, rented, taxi or with friends), or if you have engaged a personal tour of Washington, then ask to come here with them. National Arboretum – Driving Directions and Maps

There is a National Arboretum Tram Tour but otherwise, you will need a bike or a car; parking lots are in several locations, with walks into the various areas. Yes, the expanse is that big!

For the moment, the roads double as the walk-ways, so be aware!

Various maps are available online; use a “mouse-over” of the upper navigation bar. There’s also a static Virtual Tour and maps, so you can decide if you want to come; this link is below.

The site also shows a Blooming Schedule, so check the month which you intend to visit to learn what you might see then.

Once there, you can see:

___ plant wonders brought from all over the world

___ a wide variety of American plants (even a grove of trees with one variety from each state in the Union).

___ a reflecting pool and 22 of the original sandstone carved pillars which were part of the East portico of Congress – witnessing the inaugurations of all the US Presidents from Thomas Jefferson to Dwight Eisenhower.

___ and feed the koi in a huge pond outside the Visitor’s Center, and inside the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum

___ Japanese Bonsai trees which were being trained 400 years ago, when the first English-American colony was being “founded” at Jamestown, Virginia! Yes, people have cared for these little trees for more than 400 years!

___ and visit the National Herb Garden, the largest in America.

___ and also choose the Elizabethan Knot Garden and the Heritage Roses Garden, interplanted with lavenders.

Run by and for research, the US Department of Agriculture has purview. They have a very limited budget, and are hoping to improve the access to the handicapped soon. There are at least 3 handicapped bathrooms on the grounds and a small area of easy access. (see this map at: Handicapped Facilities – National Arboretum

Department of Ag has made some strange choices e.g. you need to bring your own bottles of drinking water, as (at least until recently), the only drinking fountain is at the Visitor’s Center! There are rest-rooms scattered through the park (see them on the map). And, notice that the roads / paths do NOT take you next to the Anacostia River. What a loss.

Also, using alcohol is not permitted, even with your own picnic. It’s understandable. Most of the people who come here want a family-time or a personal way to commune with Nature in a quiet, respectful way. The rules are posted on the website.

Enjoy the Virtual Tour(s). There are actually several very descriptive sections available to “see” on their website. Start with this one. . A static map is at the end.


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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Revieww

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