The U.S. National Arboretum is a vast, 446-acre botanical garden located on the Anacostia River northeast of the U.S. Capitol. Though arboretums are generally focused on collections of woody plants, this garden displays a wide variety of plant life adding interest to every season. Operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the arboretum has serves as both a public garden and as a botanical research and educational facility. This is not to be confused with the U.S. Botanic Garden located on Capitol Hill.
The park is arranged by plant collections scattered throughout the property and connected by nine miles of winding roads. Parking lots located near each collection provide easy access. To navigate the park, get the Visitor Guide and map here or download the app onto your smart phone here. Admission to the arboretum is free.
Administrative Building and Visitor Center housing an information area, auditorium and outdoor koi pond
Asian Collection featuring plants from Japan, Korea and China
Azalea Collection, a late-spring spectacle of color with thousands of shrubs bursting in pink, purple, white and red.
Dogwood Collection overlooking the Anacostia River
Fern Valley showcasing plant life from the eastern United States
Friendship Garden filled with perennials on the grounds of the Arbor House
Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection featuring dwarf pine and fir trees, and crapemyrtle
Holly and Magnolia Collections showcase winter holly berries and spring magnolia blossoms
National Bonsai and Penjing Museum holding hundreds of delicately pruned works of art on display in three pavilions. Learn more about the museum here.
National Boxwood Collection containing over 100 species and varieties
National Capitol Columns, an unexpected site of 22 sandstone Corinthian columns rising out of a field. The columns stood on the east portico (facing the U.S. Supreme Court) of the U.S. Capitol from 1826 until 1958, when they were removed for the Capitol extension. These columns saw the inauguration of Presidents from Andrew Jackson to Dwight Eisenhower when the ceremony used to take place on the east front. They were restored and dedicated at the arboretum in 1990.
National Herb Garden displaying over 800 herbs from around the world in four garden “rooms.”
Perennial Collections highlighting daffodils, peonies and daylilies rotating in bloom from February to July
Washington Youth Garden, an educational, hands-on garden and play area for children and families
It would take multiple visits over all four seasons to explore the abundant collections on display at the arboretum. In addition to all of the wonderful plants, visitors can enjoy the designated picnic area in the National Grove of State Trees area and the gift shop in the Arbor House. Check the calendar for hours, special events, classes, and to sign up for their newsletter.
Click here for the Visitor Guide and map
Click here to tour with the app