Tuesday, March 10, 2015

United States Botanic Garden Greenhouses

One of the really cool things about living close to our nation's capital is that we have easy access to the museums of the Smithsonian.  Anything from fossilized bones of prehistoric dinosaurs WWII airplanes, are only a car ride or metro stop away and they are free for everyone to see, just about every day of the year.

One of my favorites, down on the Smithsonian Mall, is the United States Botanic Garden.  This is America's garden spot filled with a collection of 65,000 green and growing things that include succulents, herbs, tropicals, heritage plants and one of the most extensive collections of orchids you'll ever see, accompanied by lots and lots of butterflies flitting about the place.

Established in 1820, the Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in America and its inception can be attributed to our first President, George Washington.  The USBG still operates under the jurisdiction of our U.S. Congress.  

Some of us "Night Bloomers--(L-R) Me, Kassie, Mary A., Kim and Mary S.
The greenhouse is staffed by real people 24/7 as it is necessary to continually monitor the climate conditions of each greenhouse.
Behind the scenes of this vast and beautiful collection of noteworthy and historic plants are thirty-two greenhouses, tucked away in the southeast side of the city.  This is where the magic happens and, unlike the U.S. Botanic Garden on the Mall, the USBG greenhouses are open to the public only one day of the year.

That one day of the year occurred his past Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit and tour all of those greenhouses with a few members of my garden club, "The Night Bloomers."

Rows and Rows of green and growing things.
The plants plants that are stocked here for the USBG also inhabit the offices of the US Senate Building.  Someone (and that someone was not named) in the US House of Representatives decided that supplying plants from the these greenhouses to the House of Representatives' offices could be cut from the budget. Politics aside, we enjoyed having free reign to peruse the greenhouses and ask questions of the dedicated and helpful staff of botanists  and horticulturists and pot up our own orchid plant to take home as a memorable reprieve from this year's long winter.

The light-filled hallway with greenhouses on each side.
A lady standing next to me was positively shaking with excitement as we made our selection from the trays of orchid plugs.  Her comment-- "This is the best garden tour ever!"  And she was pretty close to being right!

 Everyone who visited could take home an orchid plug with some of the staff on hand to show us all how to properly pack them into their pots with moss.  They also supplied instructions on how to care for our Oncidium "Twinkle Pink"  orchids once we got home.
For more information on how to tour the USBG Greenhouses next year, go to www.usbg.gov and see when next year's day of scheduled tours, open to the public, will be. It is certainly worth spending an enjoyable, informative and interesting afternoon in our nation's greenhouses.

Writer's Note:  The pictures you see here were taken by me at the USBG Greenhouses. I only wish I was a good enough photographer to really show you the scope of the place, but you have to go and see that for yourself!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Cyndie,
    I haven't been to the US Botanic Garden in awhile. Thanks for sharing your trip! I have a friend who is in a garden club called "The Late Bloomers" …. :-) Eileen