Calling all residents of DC, Maryland, and Virginia: the next time you’re brainstorming a day trip, consider visiting a botanic garden! Botanic gardens are the perfect spot to visit with your mom, friend, or significant other. You don’t need to be a plant expert to appreciate the beauty these gardens have to offer!
United States Botanic Garden
Washington, D.C.’s United States Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. It’s free of charge and has three exhibit areas. The Conservatory houses many different plants and environments in its permanent exhibit and gardens, from orchids to rare and endangered species and even Jurassic plants. The National Garden is the newest outdoor garden. It features Mid-Atlantic native plants, the Rose Garden, the Butterfly Garden and the First Ladies Water Garden. Bartholdi Park is often considered as the secret garden of Washingtonians. It is located across Independence Avenue from the Conservatory and has theme gardens that surround the historic Bartholdi Fountain.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
The 95 acres of Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is located in a bustling metropolitan city. Yet, its 95 acres provide a rare escape to a more peaceful, serene part of Vienna, VA. Meadowlark’s ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections are situated among lakes, forests and walking trails with stunning views of the Piedmont hills. The largest collection at Meadowlark is the Potomac Valley Collection, which includes beautiful spring blooms. Daffodils, tulips, magnolias, flowering cherries and lenten roses appear in March and April.
If you don’t want to battle the large crowds in Washington, D.C. to see the cherry blossoms, go to Meadowlark! Azaleas, rhododendron, dogwoods, lilacs, Siberian irises, native wildflowers, peonies, alliums and a butterfly garden follow with blooms in May. A small wetland, Lake Lena, is at Meadowlark’s lowest elevation. Several species of aquatic animals and birds like turtles, herons and fish can be found here.
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VAm ranks among the top botanical gardens in the United States. The historic property offers over 50 acres of spectacular, serene gardens with bridges and winding paths. A 63-foot classical-domed Conservatory is the only one of its kind in the mid-Atlantic. At Lewis Ginter, you can explore 15 themed gardens including a Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Healing Garden, Fountain Garden and Asian Valley. There’s even a fully accessible treehouse and a free audio tour of the garden you can access through your smartphone.
A visit to any of these gardens is a wonderful way to appreciate spring in all its glory. Remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and take a phone or camera to capture photographs. If you enjoy gardening, you may even want to jot down some notes along the way!