United States Botanic Garden
Office of Executive Director, 245 First Street SW., Washington, DC 20024
Conservatory, 100 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20001
Production Facility, 4700 Shepherd Parkway SW., Washington, DC 20032
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| Director (Architect of the Capitol) ||Stephen T. Ayers, Acting |
| Executive Director ||Holly H. Shimizu |
The United States Botanic Garden informs visitors about the importance and value of plants to the well-being of humankind and earth's ecosystems.
The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. The Garden highlights the diversity of plants worldwide, as well as their aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological significance. The USBG encourages plant appreciation and the growth of botanical knowledge through artistic plant displays, exhibits, educational programs, and curation of a large collection of plants. It fosters plant conservation by serving as a repository for endangered species. Uniquely situated at the heart of the U.S. Government, the Garden seeks to promote the exchange of ideas and information relevant to its mission among national and international visitors and policymakers.
The Garden's collections include orchids, epiphytes, bromeliads, carnivorous plants, ferns, cycads, cacti, succulents, medicinal plants, rare and endangered plants, and plants valued as sources of food, beverages, fibers, cosmetics, and industrial products.
The USBG's facilities include the Conservatory, the National Garden, Bartholdi Park, an administration building, and an off-site production facility. The Conservatory, one of the largest structures of its kind in this country, reopened on December 11, 2001, after undergoing major renovation that required more than 4 years to complete. In addition to upgraded amenities for visitors, it features 12 exhibit and plant display areas.
The National Garden opened on October 1, 2006. Located on three acres adjacent to the west side of the Conservatory, the National Garden comprises a First Ladies Water Garden, a Butterfly Garden, a Rose Garden celebrating our national flower, a Lawn Terrace, a Regional Garden of native Mid-Atlantic plants, and an amphitheater where visitors may relax and enjoy the stunning views of the U.S. Capitol.
Outdoor plantings are also showcased in Bartholdi Park, a home-landscape demonstration area located across from the Conservatory. Each of the displays is sized and scaled for suitability in an urban or suburban setting. The gardens display ornamental plants that perform well in this region arrayed in a variety of styles and themes. Also located in this park is Bartholdi Fountain, created by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. After undergoing extensive restoration and modifications to save both energy and water, Bartholdi Fountain was re-installed in 2010.
The USBG's staff is organized into horticulture, operations, administration, and public programs divisions. Programs for the public are listed in a quarterly calendar of events and also on the Garden’s Web site. A horticultural hotline and email address are available to answer questions from the public.
The USBG was founded in 1820 under the auspices of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, an organization that was the outgrowth of an association known as the Metropolitan Society, which received its charter from Congress on April 20, 1818. The Garden continued under the direction of the Institute until 1837, when the Institute ceased to exist as an active organization.
In June 1842, the U.S. Exploring Expedition under the command of Captain Charles Wilkes returned from its 4-year voyage with a wealth of information, artifacts, pressed-plant specimens, and living plants from around the world. The living plants were temporarily placed on exhibit on a lot behind the old Patent Office under the care of William D. Brackenridge, the Expedition's botanist. By November 1842, the plants were moved into a greenhouse built there with funds appropriated by Congress. Subsequently, the greenhouse was expanded with two additions and a small growing area to care for the burgeoning collection. In 1843, stewardship of the collection was placed under the direction and control of the Joint Committee on the Library, which had also assumed responsibility for publication of the results of the Expedition. Expansion of the Patent Office in 1849 necessitated finding a new location for the botanical collections.
The act of May 15, 1850 (9 Stat. 427), provided for the relocation of the Botanic Garden under the direction of the Joint Committee on the Library. The site selected was on the National Mall at the west end of the Capitol Grounds, practically the same site the Garden occupied during the period it functioned under the Columbian Institute. This site was later enlarged, and the main area continued to serve as the principal Garden site from 1850 to 1933, when the Garden was relocated to its present site.
Although the Government had assumed responsibility for the maintenance and stewardship of the plant collection in 1842, the two functions were divided between the Commissioner of Public Buildings and the Joint Committee on the Library, respectively. In 1856, in recognition of their increasing stature, the collections and their associated operations and facilities were officially named the United States Botanic Garden, and the Joint Committee on the Library assumed jurisdiction over both its direction and maintenance (11 Stat. 104). An annual appropriation has been provided by Congress since 1856.
Presently, the Joint Committee on the Library has supervision over the USBG through the Architect of the Capitol, who has held the title of Acting Director since 1934.http://www.usbg.gov