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Best Botanical Gardens in Washington, D.C.

June 20, 2014 8:00 AM

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Photo Credit Jamie Hardin

Photo Credit Jamie Hardin

The Mid-Atlantic region is the ideal locale to experience the four seasons, especially as nature transitions into the beauty of autumn, blossoms into colorful spring or is verdantly lush during summer months. There’s no better place to witness such beauty than at these botanical gardens.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court
Vienna, VA 22182
(703) 255-3631
www.nvrpa.org

Visitors can enjoy walking trails and serene lakes as they take in all 95 acres of this botanical garden. The Meadowlark Botanical Gardens contains a visual delight of ornamental display gardens, native plant collections, varieties of cherry trees and an abundance of flowers including peonies, irises, native wildflowers and seasonal blooms. A visitor center contains an indoor tropical garden and is a popular venue for meetings, receptions and weddings. Meadowlark also offers tours, gardening and horticulture workshops, concerts and volunteer programs. During the summer, the Garden even offers an educational children’s camp, Camp Grow, where nature activities are blended with games.

United States Botanic Garden
100 Maryland Ave. S.W.
Washington DC 20001
(202)225-8333
www.usbg.gov

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is considered a living plant museum. An idea conceived by George Washington, the garden was established by Congress in 1820 and is one of the oldest botanic gardens in the U.S. The permanent exhibits and gardens of the USBG abound with life and are composed of a Conservatory, National Garden and Bartholdi Park. The Conservatory contains indoor gardens and galleries and even jungle, desert and primeval paradise landscapes that burst with fragrant blossoms and fruit-bearing plants and trees. The National Garden is complete with rose and butterfly gardens, a regional garden featuring native Mid-Atlantic plants, a First Ladies Water Garden, lawn terrace and even an amphitheater. Bartholdi park is a two-acre garden that features unique and creative plant combinations and designs, and is located on Independence Avenue across from the Conservatory.

Related: Best Sightseeing Tours In Washington DC

Kenilworth Park And Aquatic Gardens
1550 Anacostia Ave. N.E.
Washington, DC 20019
(202) 426-6905
www.nps.gov

During spring and summer, Kenilworth Park And Aquatic Gardens is alive with all sorts of life—both plant and animal alike. Dogwoods, Red Buds and Cherry Blossom trees erupt into fragrant canopies of pinks and purples. The sweet scent of flowering plants like purple wisteria, forsythia and an assortment of daffodils make the park a welcome sight. Animals love it, too. During warm months, turtles, salamanders, frogs and other reptiles and amphibians can be seen in its fields and in the marshes and magnolia bogs off the Anacostia River. This scenic park hosts an annual Lotus & Water Lily Cultural Festival in July, and during spring and summer, park rangers provide free nature walks and art activities for all ages—all supplies are provided free of cost.

United States National Arboretum
3501 New York Ave. N.E.
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 245-2726

www.usna.usda.gov

Considered a national living treasure, the U.S. National Arboretum is the only federally funded Arboretum in the country and is an ideal place to enjoy a picnic and a day of leisure surrounded by nature. Its National Grove of State Trees picnic area marks the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon of food and fun. Visitors can also enjoy a scenic open-air tram tour that covers the park’s 446 sprawling acres of gardens, collections and natural areas. The 35-minute ride includes a taped narrative of the Arboretum including its history, research and gardens and collections.

Related: Familiarize With Founders: Important Places To The People Who Built DC

Kevin Don Porter is the author of OVER THE EDGE and MISSING—two mysteries available on Amazon.com. Visit his website at www.kevindonporter.com..
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