Ranked as one of the greenest cities in the nation, Washington, DC offers a dense urban canopy and plenty of accompanying, vibrant gardens. Our advice? Take a break from your computer and get exploring.
Old Stone House Gardens
The historic 1765 Old Stone House, nestled on the bustling M Street in Georgetown, is the oldest DC structure on its original foundation; it also offers an impressive backyard garden. Step away from the city and into a nature oasis by merely exiting M Street through the gate. The biodiverse gardens include various flowers that attract pollinators – plenty of bees, finches, and butterflies call Old Stone House home. And who can resist the chipmunks? The scene only becomes more vibrant in fall.
Old Stone House Gardens, 3051 M St NW, Washington, DC, USA
National Arboretum Columns
National Bonsai and Penjing Gardens
Japanese Bonsai and its precursor, Chinese Penjing, are a unique form of shrubbery rooted in cultural traditions and representations. This museum houses vibrant and colorful vegetation in its outdoor gardens, most popular in springtime during cherry blossom season, and it also includes a quaint indoor pavilion for reflection. The plants are unique and traditional – there is, for example, a Japanese white pine that is approaching 400 years old!
National Bonsai and Penjing Gardens, 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 396 3510
Bonsai pavilion | © DC Gardens/Flickr
National Botanic Garden
Each room within the indoor Botanic Garden’s conservatory represents a different habitat/ecosystem, and the flora that accompanies it. There’s a desert with cacti, a tropical rainforest in a 93 foot mezzanine to allow trees to grow, a rare and endangered species chamber, and so on. The accompanying outdoor gardens range from a vibrant rose garden to a First Ladies’ aquatic plant oasis.
National Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 225 8333
This historic Georgetown estate wows visitors with its glorious outdoor gardens and indoor museum, which houses rare books and artifacts from ancient civilizations like the Maya and Inca. The Byzantine-inspired gardens feature unique architecture coupled with 50 acres of lush vegetation. Over 15 themed gardens feature all types of flora from an Apple Orchard to a hillside consumed by forsythias.
Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd St NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 339 6401
Smithsonian Butterfly Pavilion
Inside the walls of the Natural History Museum, a biodiverse greenhouse sits amid an exhibit about natural selection. For $6, you can enter the luscious greenhouse, which houses over 50 species of live butterflies. The colorful insects swoop through the head, pollinate the vibrant flowers, and may land on your shoulder without you noticing.
Smithsonian Butterfly Pavilion, 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC, USA, +1 202 633 1000
By Kate McMahon