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United States Botanic Garden

Free «United States Botanic Garden» Essay Sample

United States Botanic Garden is a famous botanical garden established on the grounds of the Capitol in Washington. It is a museum of live plants, officially recognized by the American Union of museums. It belongs to the Subsidiary federal agencies of the US Congress. Botanic Garden was opened in 1820, however, formally it was established only in 1850 (Fallen, Allen and Solit 2007, 45). It is located at the National Mall, which is a huge complex of museums, memorials and the US archives in the heart of Washington, between the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. It is very popular among residents and tourists. The number of visitors of Botanic Garden reach 1 000 000 people per year (46). Botanic Garden in Washington is one of the largest gardens in North America. Today, it contains about 60 thousand species of plants (48). The age of some of them reaches hundred years. Many different and exotic plants grow in numerous greenhouses and natural areas of the park.


United States Botanic Garden is a fenced triangular area that is located between Maryland Avenue and Independence Avenue. It includes a greenhouse, the National Garden and Bartholdi Park with a fountain. United States Botanic Garden, despite the grandiose name, is small. However, for tourists, weary from visiting museums of National Mall, it can become a salvation. Bartholdi Park with its spectacular fountain in the middle and many mini-gardens is located across the Independence Avenue on the south. There is a building with the garden administration.


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Botanic Garden in Washington consists of three zones: the Conservatory, the National Park, and Bartholdi Park. Outdoor space is called the National Garden. It occupies 1.2 hectares and consists of small thematic sections devoted to native plants, roses, and butterflies (Fallen, Allen and Solit 2007, 48). There are benches everywhere, as well as tables and chairs are available in the water garden in memory of all the first ladies of the USA. In addition, Botanical Garden in the United States has the largest hothouse complex called Production Facility (Anacostia, Washington). It was opened in 1994. Currently it comprises 85,000 square meters of glass coatings of 34 greenhouses of 16 different natural areas (Fallen, Allen and Solit 2007, 50).


More than 200 years ago, George Washington developed a promising image of the new capital of the country with its own botanic garden (Monem 2007, 90). This garden would demonstrate the importance of landscaping for the young state, contributing to the popularization of the idea. The first attempts to create a botanical garden in the US capital were made in 1816 by the Colombian Institute for the Advancement of Science and Art. Washington Botanical Society, founded in 1817, supported the project of establishing a botanical garden in Washington (Monem 2007, 92). Many representatives of the society were also the members of the Colombian Institute. However, unfortunately, this society has disintegrated in 1826 (Monem 2007, 93).

In 1820, the US President James Monroe allocated 5 acres of land for the creation of national conservatory (Monem 2007, 94). Dr. Edward Katbush, founder and first president of Columbia University, was one of the first who saw the need for a botanical garden, which would be a place where a variety of seeds and plants could be grown and distributed to other parts of the US. He has created a repository for seeds and plants (Monem 2007, 95).

The place that was chosen for botanical garden was originally a marshy ground. This land was originally owned by Scottish farmer David Burns, who owned much of the sites of Washington. He was warned that if he decided to plant crops on Avenue and the Mall, then he should do it at his own risk because the streets could appear on this territory. Moreover, with the beginning of construction of buildings, he should move to a new location (Monem 2007, 95).

Perhaps, Thomas Jefferson was the first powerful man who was interested in clearing the territory (Monem 2007, 96). By 1810, a few rows of Lombardy poplars were planted (Monem 2007, 94). However, the Avenue was full with marshes unsuitable for horseback riding. By the end of 1823, the marshy land was drained and aligned (Monem 2007, 94). In the center, the elliptical pond with the island was built, and four gravel paths for walks were laid.

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The trees and shrubs were planted in the garden maintained with meager resources of the Institute. Institute spent $1,500 and asked Congress to reimburse the cost of building the garden, but this request was not granted (Monem, 2007, 98). Although many prominent citizens and Presidents of several countries were included in the list of members of the Colombian institutions, they were not able to raise money for greenhouses and lecture hall. Money for the proper technical maintenance of the garden and plant collection was not enough as well. Despite all the difficulties, the institute began to develop rapidly, thanks to the efforts of enthusiasts (Monem 2007, 99).

Subsequently, most of the land of the botanical garden of Colombian Institute became the US Botanical Garden, founded in 1850, i.e. 13 years after the institution was closed. In 1867, the money was allocated to the first greenhouse. The main building of the greenhouse was 30 feet in length and 60 feet height. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi built fountains and sculptures. A monument to the heroes of Gettysburg was established.

In 1856, Garden was officially transferred to the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress. Since 1934, architect department of Capitol controls the work done in the garden. Now, Capitol architect works as the Acting Director of the United States Botanic Garden. He is responsible for maintenance and operation of the garden and any constructions, alterations or improvements.

Development of the Botanic Garden

The garden was not always located near the Capitol. The location has been chosen for it later (Rutherford 2015, 60). During the formation of the garden, a large-scale campaign to collect seeds and seedlings was launched. Because of this campaign, the plants from all corners of the world came to the US. It took a long time to fill the garden with plants.

However, so-called the US research expedition, which lasted from 1838 to 1842 years, helped to achieve this goal (Rutherford 2015, 63). This expedition led by Lt. Charles Wilkes explored vast areas along the coasts of North and South America and reached Antarctica. Difficult and dangerous journey has played an important role in the development of many sciences – geology, oceanography, hydrography, meteorology, and, of course, botany. It collected more than 60 thousand specimens of flora and fauna, and a numerous seeds of new to the US plants. They have spread across the country afterwards. In addition, the expedition brought more than 200 living plants (Rutherford 2015, 64).

The advertising campaign launched during the creation of a new botanical garden was successful. The seeds were brought to Botanic Garden from all over the world, including such distant regions, as Brazil and China. Some came from the neighboring regions, such as Montgomery County in Maryland (Rutherford 2015, 66). In 1824, under the editorship of William Elliot, the first list of garden plants was prepared. About 60 000 plants grow in the US Botanic Garden today. Some of them are over 165 years (Rutherford 2015, 69).

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Over time, the garden was abandoned. However, in 1997 work on updating the garden began. In 2001, it opened its doors for visitors (Rutherford 2015, 71). New plants were fully-grown. Among them, there was Guarana, creeping shrub that is used in energy drinks. Guarana is located in a garden courtyard among the plants used for the production of a variety of fibers and cosmetics.


The main place of attraction for visitors is the greenhouse. The building is designed in a classical style with a glass dome built in 1933 (Narus 2014, 105). Chicago designers from the firm “Bennett, Parsons and Frost” were inspired by the images of Versailles conservatory of the XVII century and London Crystal Palace of the XIX century (Narus 2014, 106). The greenhouse is built in the form of interconnected rooms and small open spaces.

Each room in a conservatory-greenhouse is devoted to the certain separate climate zone: “Jungle”, “Desert”, “Orchids” and others, which can be divided into different types (eg, plants of American and African deserts, jungles of the Amazon and African) (Narus 2014, 107). Each room has a different temperature and humidity. Shifts can be very noticeable when walking from one room to another. In the “Desert” there are cacti and other thorns; the “Orchid” is filled with flowers of all possible hues, and in the “Jungle” grow evergreen trees under the transparent dome of the Botanical Garden. Here, one can see the chocolate tree and palm trees, cacti and orchids of stunning beauty. Plants predators are very interesting as well. All plants are signed by plates, which are sometimes very difficult to find in the bushes.


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Among the most interesting attractions of the Botanical Garden is Butterfly Garden. Before the entrance of the greenhouse, the place is conventionally divided into two parts. In the first part the best urban landscape art is displayed. The second part is a butterfly garden. Butterfly Garden is a mixed border, filled with plants, which attract pollinators. Opposite to them, there are benches for visitors to observe the life of flowers and insects in a natural habitat. The pavement is very moving. On the tiles, the names of people that have contributed to the development of the garden of butterflies, for example, provided material support, are immortalized (Narus 2014, 109). Such gesture is generally accepted in the United States.

In the territory of the US Botanical Garden, there are several historic trees, such as Crittenden Oak, near which a politician and prosecutor Attorney John J.Crittenden gave his speech to prevent civil war. Additionally, Beck-Washington Elm (grew up to 1948), which was grown personally by George Washington, and under which he oversaw the construction of the Capitol grows in the garden. Sycamore Thaddeus Stevens brought from Kashmir Valley, Chinese oak from the tomb of Confucius, two Lebanese cedar, and some others that have a historical association belong to historical trees (Narus 2014, 115).

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Moreover, in the Botanic Garden, there are things to study. One can see what grows in the desert, and in the tropical forests. An interesting reconstruction was done of the prehistoric landscape, a section with rare and endangered species, the collection of Hawaiian plants that have adapted to live on the volcanic islands, a medicinal garden. In the area with medical plants, the visitors are able to look at ephedra, aloe, and other plants that heal. Out of the five thousand specimens of orchids, which the Botanical Garden owns, only a few hundred are displayed on display, and the exhibition is constantly changing (Narus 2014, 115-116).

Usually, many visitors are attracted by the Amorphophallus titanum. This tropical plant almost never occurs in nature now and lives mainly in greenhouses. It is famous for its size since it has the world’s largest inflorescence. Flowering is rare and lasts only two or three days. During this time, it looks impressive and smells like rotting meat. The last time, the Amorphophallus titanium blossomed was in 2013. However, since there are several of those in the Botanical Garden of the US, the workers of the garden are hoping for it to bloom in the coming years, thus, some travelers may be lucky to see and smell it. Interesting that most of the garden workers are Indians. They have a love for the soil and plants in their blood.

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The garden of miniatures is also one of the most popular exhibitions in the botanical garden. The exposition was opened in 2009 (Narus 2014, 120). The National foundation of bonsai is also extremely attractive to visitors. In the early 20th century, Japan gave 50 bonsai trees (Narus 2014, 121). Since that event, the fund greatly developed. Foundation Museum is designed in Japanese style, which gives it a delightful oriental charm. At the time of ripening, the visitors can harvest fruits and vegetables themselves. This service attracts many visitors.

In the Botanical Garden, Palm House, the World Desert, and oasis, showing the vegetation of different climatic zones catch the attention of visitors. Primeval Garden, where the world is shown as it was in the time of dinosaurs, is the most unusual section. In addition, one of the most popular garden permanent exhibitions is the jungle, where hundreds of plants are gathered to create an atmosphere of tropical forests. Also, among the attractions of Botanical Gardens are Rose Garden, Butterfly Garden, Garden of the First Lady, Lawn Terrace, amphitheater, etc. (Narus 2014, 130).

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Botanical Garden conducts educational activities in the field of ecology, horticulture and botany. In the garden, exhibition and programs for visitors of all ages dedicated to the role of plants in maintaining the diversity of Earth’s ecosystems and the enrichment of the lives of people are organized. This way, the garden workers provide visitors with information concerning the importance, value and diversity plants, as well as their aesthetic, cultural, economic, medical and environmental importance. By teaching more than one and a half million visitors each year, the Botanic Garden aims to demonstrate and promote environmentally sustainable techniques (Zimmerman & St Louis 2015, 33). Organized educational programs in the field of ecology, horticulture and botany are very popular.


The entrance is free of charge. Pictures can be taken everywhere. In each room, the benches are placed. In addition, there are many artificial waterfalls. Getting to the park is possible by subway: Station Federal Center SW station (blue and orange lines). The Botanical Garden is open for visitors daily from 10 am to 17 pm.

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United States Botanic Garden is an amazing attribute of Washington. It is one of the oldest botanical gardens in North America. It is located in the eastern part of the city. Washington Park is a favorite destination of American residents and guests. This place is very popular, as evidenced by the attendance. It was founded in 1820 as a part of the Colombian Institute for the promotion of arts and sciences. The Botanic Garden was moved to its present location in 1933. It significantly enriched its collection during the research expedition of the US Navy in 1838-1842 years. Now, it includes a greenhouse, a small open space, Bartholdi Park, and huge greenhouses, located in Anacostia, Washington’s historic district. Several huge rooms are devoted to different climatic zones. The chief architect of the Capitol controls the Botanical Garden. Each year, the Botanical Garden welcomes up to one million visitors.


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