/ The DC Traveler
Washington DC — By Jon Rochetti on April 8, 2010 at 2:24 pm
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Spring Is Blooming at the National Arboretum

The months of April and May are the perfect time to visit the National Arboretum in Washington DC.   Besides being the nation’s official living museum, it’s home to hundreds of flowering trees, plants and flowers, that go into hyper drive during the spring.

The arboretum’s trees and shrubs have been cultivated for both scientific and educational purposes and it’s also a storehouse of over 650,000 specimens of dried pressed plants, mostly cultivated, from around the world for scientific studies in agriculture, horticulture, botany and medicine.

National Arboredum - Washington DC

Over the next couple of months, some of the more colorful trees, shrubs and flowers that will be blooming include:

  • April — Daffodils, crocuses, magnolias, Korean azalea, Japanese-andromeda, Japanese quince, azaleas, forsythias, cornelian-cherries, woodland wildflowers, flowering cherries, redbuds, crabapples and lilacs.
  • May — Rhododendrons, azaleas, flowering dogwoods, crabapples, flowering cherries, Japanese-quince, Asian magnolia, wildflowers, peonies, lilacs, dove-tree, roses, camellias, bay, herbs, and mountain-laurels

Start your park visit by taking one of the 6 daily taped tram tours.  The 48-person, non-stop, open-air trams run tour most of the major gardens and park highlights.  From there, you can take a leisurely stroll and visit the areas and gardens you most enjoy.

Chinese Pavillion - National Arboretum Washington DCTram tours start at daily at 10:30, 11:30, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00  and 4:00 p.m.  Tickets (Adults: $4.00, Seniors: $3.00, kids 4-16 – $2.00, under 4 are free) are available on a first-come basis at the ticket kiosk near the R Street entrance gate.  No advanced tickets are available.

The park was established by an Act of Congress in the late 1920s, and it now it now operates with a $12 million annual budget  supported by 72 staff members and over 140 volunteers. Over a half million visitors tour the park each year.

You can tour the 9 miles of arboretum roads that connect the major buildings, gardens and botanical collections by car, bicycle, tram or on foot.

A few of the other highlights of the 446-acre park are the:

  • Popular spring destination, the Azalea garden
  • Aquatic plants garden
  • Asian Collections
  • National Bonsai & Penjing Museum
  • National Grove of State Trees
  • National Herb Garden

Capitol Pillars - National Arboretum Washington DC

But the most viewed destination and notable landmark is the National Capitol Columns. Located on a natural knoll in Ellipse Meadow, 20 of the Capitol Building’s original columns that supported the building’s East Portico since 1828, were removed in 1958. After finding the ideal location, the columns were relocated and erected in the Arboretum in 1984 in front of a small reflecting pool.

National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE at R Street, NE.
Washington, DC (map it)

Dates & Times – Daily – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. except Christmas.

Admission - Park admission is free, trams rides are extra (see fees above.)

Nearest Metro Subway Station – Deanwood – Orange line, then a 5 minute cab ride or Stadium Armory – Blue and Orange lines, then take the Metrobus B-2 to Bladensburg Road and walk 2 blocks to R Street, turn right and continue 2 blocks to the Arboretum gates.

Parking – Free parking in multiple lots around the park.

Images – from personal collection  - ©2007 & 2010, Jon Rochetti

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