Why You Should Visit the U.S. Botanical Gardens

If you are crazy about plants like I am, the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) should be no stranger to you. Located in downtown Washington D.C., just to the left of the U.S. Capitol building, the grand glass dome of the USBG towers over the neighboring National Garden. It is hard to miss this spectacle, but just in case you did, here are a few reasons why you should move the USBG to the top of your bucket list.

  1. To learn something new!

The garden is divided into multiple sections, ranging from a room dedicated to Orchids,  to a Desert chamber, to a pocket of Prehistoric plants. Each exhibit is very informative, scattered with signs that you can follow as you navigate your way along the paths. There is a self-guided tour to take you through the whole museum, as well as guided tours that start every few hours.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Leinbach

One of the most informative exhibits is dedicated to Medicinal plants. As is true for all the other exhibits, the display of plants is captivating and there is signage everywhere explaining the relevance of the featured flora. It is amazing to evaluate our long human history in terms of our ever-accumulating knowledge of plants. Believe it or not, there are still thousands of plants that have not been identified and therefore, their natural ingredients have not been assessed- maybe there are still plants out there that can improve current treatments or create new ones to cure threatening diseases!

  1. To see unique exhibits

I have been to the USBG several times, and there is always something new to look at! They have rotating events and exhibits to keep things interesting. During my most recent visit to the garden, I was lucky enough to see exhibits including It's Hip to Be Square: The Mint Family, Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Sculpture Installation, and Season's Greenings: America's Gardens. 

In particular, the sculpture installation was really phenomenal. The beautiful construction of stickwork was not only eye-catching but interactive as well (you can walk through it and touch it). It was certainly a fitting physical celebration of the USBG’s 200th anniversary.

Photo courtesy of the United States Botanic Garden official website.

Photo courtesy of Natalie Leinbach

  1. It is cute for taking pictures!

I must qualify that not every person is as mesmerized by plant factoids as I am. However, I still think the USBG is an attractive destination. If not a place for reading and learning about plants, the USBG is certainly the best place to look at plants. Even if you don’t read a single sign (or any of them for that matter), the place is still absolutely beautiful. Entry into the facility is completely free, so it can be a nice way to get into the city and maybe take some artsy pictures for your Instagram feed!