The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is a botanic garden on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It is situated near Garfield Circle. Congress, through the Architect of the Capitol, supervises the Botanic Garden. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for maintaining the grounds of the United States Capitol.
The USBG is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. The Garden highlights the diversity as well as the aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological significance of plants worldwide. The USBG educates the public about ways to live by supporting the environment, and by nurturing the plants that support the life on earth.
In 1816, the constitution of the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences in Washington, D.C., proposed the creation of a botanic garden. Congress established the Institute’s garden in 1820 to the west of the Capitol Grounds. This facility stopped functioning in 1837 when the organization stopped holding meetings. The idea of a national botanic garden was reestablished in 1842, when the return of the United States Exploring Expedition to the South Seas (the Wilkes Expedition) brought to Washington a collection of plants from all over the world. These plants were placed initially in a specially constructed greenhouse behind the Old Patent Office Building. In late 1850, the plants were moved into a new structure on the site previously occupied by the Columbian Institute’s garden.
In 1933, the Garden was moved to its present location. First Street and Third Streets, S.W. borders the complex which is located along the north and south sides of Independence Avenue. The Garden includes the Conservatory, the National Garden, the outdoor display gardens in Frederic Auguste Bartholdi Park, and the Administration Building. Since 1934, the Architect of the Capitol has served as Acting Director of the USBG.
The USBG is open throughout the year, including federal holidays. It is the oldest continually operating botanic garden in the United States. The functioning of USBG is as follows:
- Admission to all public areas of the U.S. Botanic Garden is Free.
- Conservatory Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM daily, including all weekends & holidays
- National Garden Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM daily.
- Bartholdi Park Hours: dawn to dusk, daily, including all weekends & holidays
Images of the USBG may not be used in commercial or promotional advertisements. While food and drink are discouraged inside the Conservatory, food is allowed within Bartholdi Park. Smoking is not allowed in the indoor facilities. Furthermore, the USBG and its components are federal property and may not be removed or disturbed.