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U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory

On Mother’s Day, I enjoyed a wonderful walk through the U.S. Botanic Gardens and Conservatory in Washington, DC with my sister and my daughter. What a great way to spend Mother’s Day!

The Conservatory dome houses the jungle room

The Conservatory dome houses
the jungle room.

The outdoor gardens were beautiful but we especially enjoyed the gardens under glass in the Conservatory.
These were magnificent – especially the jungle room.

There are 10 indoor garden rooms plus two beautiful courtyard gardens in the Conservatory. Each garden room has either a special theme; e.g. medicinal plants, orchids, rare and endangered plants, or represents a particular biome; desert, jungle …

In 1997, the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory was closed to the public and completely renovated during a major project that lasted four years. It was reopened in 2001. The renovation was mostly done to modernize the climate control systems, plumbing, electrical, and to replace the aluminum framework and glazing of the dome; the exterior was kept pretty much unaltered.

Inside the jungle dome

Inside the jungle dome

The climate inside the building is now completely controlled by computers that monitor the outdoor weather conditions and automatically adjust the shading, ventilation, misting, and heating so that the daytime and nighttime environment is ideal for the different gardens.

So interesting!

The Garden Primeval was one of the first gardens we walked through. It was created to give you a feel for what a Jurassic forest might have been like and is full of many different types of ferns, cycads, and other ancient plants that are still around after millions of years – a very fascinating garden.

A beautiful fern frond beginning to unfurl

A beautiful fern frond beginning to unfurl

An interesting orchid

An interesting orchid

The orchid room was spectacular! There were hundreds of different orchids which provided an amazing diversity of form and colorful blooms. They were all displayed in a beautiful natural setting. At one point, you walk under a big log which is suspended over the pathway and is completely covered with blooming orchids. Wow – I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it!

The desert room was really interesting as well with plantings of a variety of cacti and other succulents and grasses that are specially adapted for arid conditions.

Up on the canopy walk

Up on the canopy walk

I must say though, the jungle room was my favorite. It is a tropical rainforest housed in the tallest part of the conservatory under a glass dome which rises to 93 feet. There are several walkways that meander through the lush forest floor, over low bridges and under towering trees. The neatest part was the canopy walk that takes you high up into the dome and allows you to walk in the midst of the jungle canopy and experience these magnificent trees and tropical plants from above. It was very cool.

As we walked around the various gardens, we became especially fascinated by the intricate details of some of the plant structures, flowers, and leaf patterns. I didn’t have my camera with me but it’s amazing what you can do with a cell phone! I’m including some pictures of this unique plant “art”. We thought it was really cool – too bad I didn’t think to write down the names of all the plants! Oh well – I’ll get Andre to identify them for me.

On the jungle floor - a misty jungle pond

On the jungle floor – a misty jungle pond

The patterns and colors of the foliage were really interesting!

Crazy variegation!

Crazy variegation!

This variegated prayer plant almost made me dizzy!

This variegated prayer plant almost made me dizzy!

Begonia leaves

Begonia leaves

A palmate compound leaf makes an interesting pattern where the leaflets join the stem.

A palmate compound leaf makes an interesting
pattern where the leaflets join the stem.

There were some really interesting flowers all through the different gardens!

Anthurium inflorescence

A beautiful Anthurium inflorescence

Pink powder puff plant

Pink powder puff plant (Calliandra emarginata)

This was a really interesting inflorescence - I wish I had written down what it was!

This was a really interesting inflorescence – I wish I
had written down what it was but Andre will know!

A beautiful orchid up on the canopy walk.

A beautiful orchid up on the canopy walk.

Peperomia with flower spikes

Peperomia with flower spikes

Bromeliad flowers

Bromeliad flowers

I urge anyone who visits our nation’s capital to plan on spending some time at the botanic gardens. It is well worth the time if you have a love of plants or even just a love of all things beautiful! You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Until next time – Happy Gardening!

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