National Arboretum



Washington, D.C.

June 2019

This grove of trees features the state trees of all 50 states. 

The U.S. National Arboretum is a collections-based research facility and public garden of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It is dedicated to the enhancement of the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multidisciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretive gardens and exhibits.

Established in 1927, the U.S. National Arboretum is part of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the principal in-house research arm of the USDA.  The ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority to ensure high-quality, safe food and other agricultural products.  It also assesses the nutritional needs of the American population to sustain a competitive agricultural economy. 

The Arboretum is located inside the beltway just a few miles northeast of the Capitol and Mall. 
It is about 1-1/2 miles from one end to the other.  There are roads with parking areas in each section to reduce walking if you choose.
Start your tour at the Visitors’ Center just to the left of center in this photo.
Our first walking loop was the “Grasses” section. 
We never knew corn was considered a grass. 
Still in doubt?  Decide for yourself at these sites.
We learned about the history of lawns.  Interesting – Really!
Wheat – another grass.
Next we followed the trail down the edge of a large field.  Off in the distance, we saw these pillars and wondered.
Several joggers were enjoying the miles of trails – just a mile away in each direction is bumper to bumper traffic.
Our next stop on the trail is the State Tree collection shown in the earlier panorama.
We’re looking for the West Virginia and Wisconsin state trees. 
These 3 trees are the Sugar Maple – the state tree of West Virginia.
By the trees in the previous photo.

Next, we found the state tree of Wisconsin.  Look familiar?
Our home states both share the Sugar Maple as their state tree. 
As we circled around to the other side of the field, the Capitol Columns came into closer view.
We were surrounded by flowers and bushes blooming. 
The bees were enjoying the flowers, too.
Slowly, we are circling back around to the Capitol Columns.
A nice rustic footbridge along the trail near the columns.
Finally – the answer!  These 22 columns were removed from the U.S. Capitol during an expansion of the building in 1958.
They date from 1826 and were in the photos of presidential inaugurations from 1829 (Andrew Jackson) to 1957 (Dwight Eisenhower) – including Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861.  Lots of history here! 
The history these pillars have seen!
Next to the Capitol Columns is this reflecting pool.
From there, we finished our first loop and headed back toward the Visitors’ Center and other displays.
Next stop – the National Herb Garden
Have you ever wondered, “What is Gruit?”  Well, here’s your answer.   
Here are some of those plants that make up Gruit.
More herbs.
The successors of Gruit – Hops.
Another beautiful garden area.  Next year, we will come in April or May when the flowers are in full bloom.
Even in the 90-degree heat of late June, it was still nice. Note the Armillary Sphere in the center garden.
This Armillary Sphere is a modern version of an ancient astronomical instrument to tell time.
A cool respite from the hot sun.
Lots of bees enjoying the flowers.
The Herb Garden includes a variety of peppers – including these super-hot Capsicum.
Next is an interesting (and educational) loop with 10 Specialty Gardens.
It’s also a place to rest and enjoy some shade on a hot day.
The Culinary Garden highlights a variety of herbs used for flavoring and seasoning food.
Examples are basil, rosemary, chives, dill, and mints.
Exploring the Culinary Garden display.
Next is the Medicinal Garden, including herbs used for modern medicines or plants for which alkaloids have been synthesized for medicinal purposes. Examples include Madagascar Peel Winkle, marshmallow, mayapple, and foxglove.
View of the Medicinal Garden.
Some additional information about the Medicinal Garden.
Next on the loop is the Native American Garden, featuring herbs used by the Native American Indians of eastern North America. Examples are wild strawberry, highbush blueberry, and wild ginger.
View of the Native American Garden.
Next is the Dioscorides Garden. (Don’t feel bad – I had to look this one up, too!) See next photo for description.
Now we know the definition of “Dioscorides.”
View of the Dioscorides Garden.
The Colonial Garden includes plants brought from the Old World by colonists, as well as native plants used in colonial times. Examples include yarrow, chicory, bee balm, and sorrel.
View of the Colonial Garden.
Next is the Beverage Garden, which includes plants used for teas or for flavoring liqueurs and other beverages.
Here is a good explanation of the Beverage Garden.
View of the Beverage Garden.
Next is the Asian Garden, with herbs used in the far east. Included are garlic chives, hardy orange, common ginger,
perilla, chrysanthemum, and Japan pepper.
View of Asian Garden.
Next is the Fragrance Garden is a collection of plants grown for their sweet scents and the pleasure they give. Plants include the rose geranium, English lavender, lemon balm, clove pink, and clary sage.
Interesting information on the Fragrance Garden.
View of the Fragrance Garden.
The last garden on the loop is the Industrial Garden, including plants that are the sources for fuel, oil, pesticides, fibers, and other products for modern industry. Examples include milkweed, perilla, licorice, and sesame.
More information about the Industrial Garden.
View of Industrial Garden.
As we leave the Herb Garden, there is a section devoted to the plants used in the making of beer.
Some of the plants used in the making of beer.
Our next stop is just across the path at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum.
Entrance to the Chinese Pavilion.
Another view of the Chinese Pavilion at the National Bonsai and Penjing Garden.
Interesting pathways and portals between sections of the garden.
Some of the dozens of Bonsai trees in the garden area.
Close-up of a Bonsai Tree
Another close-up of a Bonsai Tree
This 148-pound Japanese stone “Chrysanthemums in Moonlight” was given to President Gerald Ford by the Japanese Suiseki Association as a gift in commemoration of the United States’ 200th anniversary in 1976. The flower patterns appear naturally on these rocks, found in a high mountain area in central Japan that is now a protected area.
More Bonsai trees found just around the corner from the first group.
In addition to Bonsai trees, there are several Asian plants on display. (See next photo for close-up)
Interesting flower on the plant in the previous photo.
After the Bonsai garden, we decided to hike around some of the trails around the Arboretum.
Interesting plants can be found all over.
Just a short hike (or drive) from the main area is the Asian Collections trail.
There are lots of flowers along the trail, large and small. These are about the size of a small fingernail.
It wouldn’t be an Asian Garden without a pagoda.
Before we left, I had to take a selfie at the display for invasive species and dangerous bugs.

We had a great time exploring the U.S. National Arboretum. It was educational and interesting at the same time.

To find the Arboretum, take Exit 19 off the DC Beltway (on the east side of town) and take Rt 50 east about 7 miles.

There are detailed directions on the Arboretum website: