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Local Gardens to Visit

Oct 09, 2019

One of the advantages of being a plant-lover living in the DC area is the easy access to a number of local gardens. Visiting gardens can be a good way to learn about new plants, get ideas for your own space, or to just enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of having to maintain it yourself.

          One of the most well-known gardens of the area is the U.S. National Arboretum. Sprawled out over 446 acres, this massive collection of plants includes a conifer collection, a flowering tree walk, a bonsai museum, a national grove of state trees, an aquatic garden, and an extensive native plant collection, along with other many other gardens and features.

          The U.S. botanic garden is another must-see. Touting itself as a “living plant museum,” the U.S. botanic garden has outdoor gardens along with a spacious, indoor conservatory. The conservatory features plants hardly ever grown in our area, including an extensive tropical garden, a desert garden, a collection of plants native to Hawaii, hundreds of orchids, and a collection of rare and endangered plants. Because the conservatory is inside, it has the added advantage of being open year-round.

          For a quick garden to visit that packs a lot of charm in to a small space, the Mary Livingston Ripley garden is a personal favorite. Located on the south side of the National Mall, this informal garden focuses its half-acre of land on unique perennials, trees and shrubs, all displayed in curved, raised plant beds. Close-by, the Hirschhorn sculpture garden is always worth a visit when in the area, along with any number of the other Smithsonian gardens scattered throughout the area. 

          In Vienna, Meadowlark Botanical gardens is another garden worthy of a visit. Set on 95 acres, Meadowlark includes an atrium featuring an indoor tropical garden, along with sprawling outdoor spaces. With emphasis on education and conservation, Meadowlark prides itself on its native plant collection, including a selection of native, wetland plants set on its serene lake setting.

          Brookside Gardens is an award-winning garden located in Silver Spring, Maryland. It includes a butterfly garden, an aquatic garden, an azalea garden, a garden of fragrant plants, a Japanese garden with a teahouse overlooking a koi pond, a formal garden, and a reflection terrace. With such a variety of outdoor spaces, there seems to be something for everyone at Brookside.

          DC offers a vast selection of outdoor spaces, with the above being only a selection of a few favorites. Others include, but are not limited to: Green Spring gardens in Alexandria, VA, Kenilworth aquatic gardens, Mount Vernon historical gardens, and the gardens at Dumbarton oaks.