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Exploring the U.S. Botanic Garden

By Roshani Kothari

Ancient ferns, rose bushes, pineapple plants, lavender bushes, native plants and so many other varieties of plants and trees, all combine to create the beautiful indoor and outdoor garden collections at the United States Botanic Garden, one of D.C.'s treasures on the Mall. Located near the U.S. Capitol, the Garden was founded in 1820, and is the oldest continuously operated public garden in the United States. It is administered by the Architect of the Capitol and overseen by Congress. On Sunday, June 2nd, I partnered with Kathy Jentz, Editor & Author of Washington Gardener Magazine to organize an event to explore this historic Garden. We met the attendees in front of the Conservatory entrance and talked about our level of gardening knowledge about plants. Afterwards, Kathy led us on a tour of the outdoor gardens, including the rose garden, native plant and tree garden, pond garden and to Bartholdi Park. We admired and smelled the delicate elderberry flowers, learned about paw paw fruits and many other unique plants in the outdoor garden collections. We stopped to take photos in the different gardens.

After exploring the outdoor gardens, we walked back to the Conservatory entrance and started the tour of the indoor collections, including the prehistoric garden with cycads and fern trees; a medicinal plant collection with black pepper and vanilla bean vines; an orchid collection with colorful orchid flowers of different sizes; and Mediterranean plants such as lavender, sage and other plants. We concluded our tour by sharing resources and encouraging attendees to check out the Garden workshops and tours. All of us had a great afternoon learning about the different plants and trees and we left amazed by all the garden collections at the U.S. Botanic Garden.


Here are some U.S. Botanic Garden and other garden resources. Feel free to comment below to suggest other resources.

Kathy Jentz

Kathy grew up not enjoying gardening because she had to help haul water to her parent’s community garden plot. As she got older, she developed a passion for gardening. She had a small balcony garden and then expanded into a common area of her condo building. She eventually decided to get her own house with a yard and helped create a community garden across the street. Besides gardening in her own space, she edits the Washington Gardener Magazine, which was in print and is now a digital publication. She also writes gardening books and her two most recent books include: Groundcover Revolution and The Urban Garden: 101 Ways to Grow Food and Beauty in the City. She organizes Seed Exchanges at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, and Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. She also organizes an annual Garden Photo contest.

Roshani Kothari

Local Gardener & Photographer

Roshani has been gardening for over 20 years. She was introduced to gardening by her grandfather and father, who loved gardening and growing vegetables from India. She volunteered at Clagett Farm many years ago where she learned about growing and harvesting different types of vegetables. When she bought her home in Petworth, Washington D.C., she took out the lawn in her backyard and planted a vegetable garden, along with raspberry canes and fruit trees. She also took out the grass from her little front yard and planted a Gerardi Dwarf Mulberry tree. She also removed the grass from next to the sidewalk in front of her home and planted sunflowers there. Now, this area has a cherry tree, butterfly bush, and an elderberry bush. She recommends interspersing flowers like zinnias, cosmos, and nasturtiums with vegetable plants to attract pollinators to the garden. If you are just starting out and have limited space, she suggests planting easy to grow herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and mint.

1 Comment

Great group and fun outting!

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