Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


National Herb Garden, National Arboretum

The National Herb Garden is wonderful! Of all the gardens we visited at the National Arboretum, this one is my favorite. I loved the medicinal herb gardens, especially the Native American Herb Garden. We learned how different tribes used plants we are very familiar with, such as cardinal flower, large-flowered trillium and purple cone flower.

National Herb Garden

This is an example of the signs found in the Native American herb garden. The signs tell how the herbs were used by differen tribes.

This is an example of the signs found in the Native American herb garden. The signs tell how the herbs were used by different tribes.

Cardinal Flower

Cardinal Flower

There were also gardens featuring plants for dying, brewing and perfuming. Colonial gardens featured herbs and vegetables. I took pictures of lots of peppers. The park’s website says it has 50 varieties!

Peppers!

More peppers!

And more peppers!


Conifer Collection, National Arboretum

On our way back toward the parking area at the National Arboretum, we swung by a portion of the Conifer Collection. We spent most of the time in the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers. This is about where the rain started drizzling and it drizzled off and on for the rest of the day.

Conifer Collection

Dwarf conifer collection

 


Asian Collection, National Arboretum

We briefly walked through the Asian Collections at the National Arboretum. I wanted to see the Chinese Pagoda and the camellias. The camellias weren’t in bloom, but we got to see the pretty shrubs anyway.

Pagoda

The collection is divided into regions, such as China Valley and Korean Hillside. Each of the sections featured plants from those countries.

Asian Collection

In all, there wasn’t much in bloom, but it was a nice area to walk through.


Washington Youth Garden

If you have kids, you definitely want to check out this garden in the National Arboretum. Besides various plants, there is a cute area where kids can dig, climb and play in a sandbox. The area also has a stage and a sitting area for programs.

Entrance to Washington Youth Garden

(Just a note of warning — take along the bug spray! As we were leaving the garden five mosquitos shared a meal on my leg. I itched for a few days after that!)

The Washington Youth Garden is full of color and a variety of plants. There were tons of bees and butterflies flying around. Sunflowers, coneflowers, rose mallow, apple trees, strawberries, figs, crepe myrtle, canna lilies, sedum, carnations, hydrangeas, spirea and more filled the beds.

Washington Youth Garden

The coolest thing we saw was a passionfruit vine. According to this source, the plant is naturalized and is not native to the U.S. A woman working at the garden said the fruit is ripe when it feels hollow when you squeeze it. She described it as feeling like “cardboard.” Doesn’t sound too appetizing, but I understood what she meant after testing a couple of fruit that were nearly ripe.

Passionfruit vine

Passionfruit vine

 


Fern Valley, National Arboretum

The area called Fern Valley is filled with meadow and prairie plants. The trail also winds through a small wooded area, but we did not walk there. This was a beautiful garden to start our tour of the gardens. The garden had cattails, rose mallow, cup plant and other flowers and grasses. It was very enjoyable!

Here’s just a few photos:

Fern Valley

Bridge in Fern Valley meadow

Rose Mallow and Bee

A bee working on a rose mallow.

Bug on thistle

A bug on a thistle.

bee and flower

yellow meadow


Capital Columns, National Arboretum

First up in our tour of the National Arboretum was the National Capital Columns. These sandstone columns used to stand on the East Portico of the Capital building in the 1800s. They were moved to the park in the 1980s.

Capital Columns

The columns sit in the middle of a meadow. We walked along a mowed path to get a closer look. In front of the columns and in the middle of them are reflecting pools.

Columns Reflecting Pool The park’s website says the columns are the most photographed and filmed structures in the park. I can see why! The columns are also handicap accessible and parking is nearby.

Reflecting pool

 

A sculpture across the field from the columns.

A sculpture across the field from the columns.


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U.S. National Arboretum

On our first full day in D.C., we started out with a visit to the U.S. National Arboretum, which is in the NE quadrant of D.C. There is plenty of parking or you can ride the Metro. The grounds are open Friday-Monday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and pups are allowed.

We walked around the majority of the 446 acre park. It was pretty cool. I really liked how many of the gardens weren’t overly formal and many areas were allowed to grow naturally. The sky looked like rain most of the morning, but the drops held off until the very last leg of our trip. The overcast morning was a welcome change from our hot, muggy day at Harpers Ferry.

There are several gardens throughout the park, but we chose to only visit a few. We made it to the National Capital Columns, Fern Valley Native Plant Collection, Washington Youth Garden, the Asian Collections, the Gotelli Collection of Dwarf and Slow Growing Conifers and the Conifer Collection and the National Herb Garden. We also walked by the Dogwood Collection, the Holly Magnolia Collection and some research gardens. There are more gardens, including the State Tree Collection and the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum (dogs aren’t allowed in the bonsai garden and museum), so there is tons more to see.

Besides education, the park also participates in research. The research gardens were comparing native and non-native plants’ susceptibility to pest damage. The hypothesis is that native plants would attract more native insect predators to help control pest damage. It would be interesting to learn the results! Other research plants included crepe myrtles.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

One of two research gardens comparing native to non-native plants.

Though the whole park was amazing, the herb and youth gardens were my favorites! I’ll share more about each of the gardens and pics in upcoming posts.