National Botanical Garden


The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a botanic garden run by the Congress of the United States (not the Smithsonian). It is located in Washington, D.C., on the U.S. Capitol Grounds campus near Garfield Circle.

The building itself, which includes a large Lord & Burnham greenhouse, is divided into separate rooms, each one simulating a different habitat.

In 1838, Charles Wilkes set out on an explorative mission commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe. During this trip, Wilkes collected live and dried specimens of plants. The expedition returned in 1842 with a massive collection of plants previously unknown in the United States.

The live specimens and seeds came to be housed in the Old Patent Office greenhouse, and were cared for there until 1850. At that time, a botanic garden was built to house the collection, and existed in front of the Capitol; this location is now home to a reflecting pool. In 1933, the building was moved to its present location, just to the southwest of the Capitol.

The Garden Conservatory consists of 10 "rooms" and two courtyards: the Garden Court, Rare and Endangered Plants, Plant Exploration, the Orchid House, Medicinal Plants, the Desert, the Oasis, the Garden Primeval, Plant Adaptation and the Jungle, and the Children's Garden and Meditation Garden (Southern Exposure) Courtyards. Each of these rooms highlights the uniqueness of plants in some way, or teaches about the goals of the USBG. The largest room is the Jungle, which also has a 2nd story catwalk, so that the jungle canopy may be observed from both below and above.

Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens None of the garden is air-conditioned, save the Oasis and the Administrative offices. Each room is closely monitored by computer-operated sensors to maintain the environment best suited to the plants in that room. Humidity, sunlight and temperature are regulated by means of a misting system, retractable shades and levered windows. All plants are watered daily by hand.

Botanical Gardens

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