local exploration: US National Arboretum

On Friday, I did something for the first time that I’ve dreamed of doing and never had the courage to actually do in the 6+ years I’ve lived outside of Washington, D.C.  I drove into the city … all by myself and for myself.

I decided to visit the U.S. National Arboretum because it is free and touted ample free parking on its website.  It took about an hour to get there even though it’s just 30 miles away from my home.  I drove past it the first time because it’s not clearly marked on New York Avenue NE.  I mean, why would anyone think that a road clearly marked several times as a service road would be an entrance to the National Arboretum? I missed the turn all together and ended up in Maryland.  Two U-turns later, I made it into the park and to the visitor’s center.

The receptionist in the visitor’s center encouraged me to visit the bonsais and the orchid exhibit.  So onward I went to view the “Orchids in the Capital” located in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum collection.


National Bonsai & Penjing Museum



Dendrobium Woo Leng



Assorted Paphiopedliums


As pretty as the orchids were, I was drawn to the permanent displays.  I learned about some magnificent oriental rocks.  These are naturally formed rocks with unique characteristics that would be brought home and put on display in the “home office.”


Scholar's Rock



Chrysanthemum Stone with Crystallized Formations



American Stone Carved by Wind


The Chinese Pavilion displayed more stones among their penjings.  A penjing is a miniature tree which is more known by the Japanese word bonsai.


Chinese Pavilion



Interior Entrance into the Chinese Pavilion



Many Chinese Penjing


I just love the little statues in the following two displays:


Rock Penjing - "Lijiang River in Spring"



Chinese Elm Penjing in Training since 2004


The Japanese and North American Pavilions focused more on the miniature trees.


Japanese Pavilion


In the Japanese Pavilion, you can find the oldest bonsai in the whole exhibit.


Japanese White Pine Bonsai in Training since 1625


Many of the famous trees had come down with root rot and were recovering in the nursery.  This is my “oh wow” tree:


Blue Atlas Cedar Bonsai in Training since 1960



Many Bonsai



Many More Bonsai


Some bonsai are from tropical climates and were kept indoors where the climate could be controlled.


Fig Bonsai in Training since 1974 & 1976


This concludes my tour of the bonsai and penjing exhibit.

I then ventured across the little road and found myself at the National Herb Garden where I walked under a knot garden, smelled the roses, and enjoyed the ornamental plants.


Knot Garden



Under the Knot Garden





The herb garden had many plants that I knew from my kitchen but I had never seen such as a bay tree, a cardamom plant, a sesame plant, etc. etc. etc.!  I think it will be fun to arrange a vegetable and herb garden.

There are over 400 acres that I still need to explore at the U.S. National Arboretum.  And there are these columns (from the capitol building) sitting in the middle of a field that will need to be investigated:


National Capitol Columns


The trip into the city wasn’t too bad, so I think I’ll be able to visit more local parks and museums.  I have a lot of catching up to do!


3 thoughts on “local exploration: US National Arboretum

  1. So, did the fig bonsai produce little figs? (I doubt it, but I had to ask. My best guess is that it is either not a real fig tree, cannot produce figs at all, or attempts to produce full size figs but is not allowed to do so.) I think Mepe and I may have driven by the arboretum on our way to Philadelphia, but didn’t stop. It looks like a good one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s