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Touring the U.S. Botanic Garden

by Sarah Clark, All About Lawns Columnist

Explore the 26,000 plants featured in the United States Botanic Garden, the oldest garden of its kind in the U.S. Here you can find inspiration for your garden, discover new flora, or pick up some new landscaping ideas.

The U.S. Botanic Garden's (USBG) proximity to the Capitol building is your first indication that this is an important destination. Situated adjacent to the pool that reflects the Capitol dome, you'll find the USBG in a neoclassical structure that is consistent with its formal surroundings.
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Botanic Garden Exhibits

Inside the Botanic Garden, your first encounter will likely involve a walk through an exhibit dealing with some aspect of horticulture or botany. Current exhibits include Orchids in an Art Deco Garden, The Birth of Coffee, and How Plants Work. USBG also offers exhibits designed expressly for children that include interactive features and games.

The Permanent Collection

The jungle canopy probably affords the most breathtakingly stunning views. Here you'll find a convincing replication of a rainforest, replete with towering palm trees, numerous varieties of rhododendrons, and other tropical plants.

Surrounding the jungle canopy you'll find the rest of the gardens, including a section on medicinal plants. Learn many of the varieties of medicinal plants, where they come from, and what medicinal qualities they possess.

One of the garden's most popular collections includes an exotic assortment of orchids, totalling some 12,000 plants. You'll likely encounter orchid species you've never seen before in dramatic colors and unusual shapes.

For Desert Landscaping Enthusiasts

The desert plants exhibit provides an interesting contrast to the lush landscaping displayed in the orchid and tropical rainforest collections. Here you'll find numerous species of cacti, shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants. You'll also observe a more lush example of desert landscaping through a rendering of a real desert oasis. Here you can learn how plants such as palms and fig trees can exist in a desert climate.

The botanic garden also provides many places to sit and enjoy the views along the way, including a formal orangerie and garden court with fountains, high ceilings, and tall trees.

About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer based in the Washington metro area.

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