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Smithsonian Gardens – Great Tours of Beautiful Spaces

On March 13, 2017 we kicked off our Smithsonian Garden Series with a talk at Central Library by Smithsonian Garden Director Barbara Faust. Her informative talk was well attended and created a lot of interest in the tours.

Barbara Faust. Photo courtesy Barbara Faust.

Our April tour was of the Haupt and Ripley gardens. The Enid A. Haupt Garden features a parterre flanked with the Asian-inspired Moongate Garden and the Moorish-style Fountain Garden. It’s adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle and above the National Museum of African Art. The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden is a plant lover’s paradise that hosts more than a thousand plants and bulbs along a winding path between the Arts and Industry Building (the first United States National Museum that opened in 1881) and the Hirshhorn Museum.

Purposefully wild garden. Photo courtesy Karin Price.

Our May tour was of the Pollinator Garden. The Pollinator Garden features different habitats and informational signage about pollinators. A significant objective in the Pollinator Garden is to emphasize natural plant/pollinator partnerships. All of the plants, grasses and trees in the garden were specifically selected for providing nourishment and shelter to pollinator insects. It is located on the east side of the National Museum of Natural History at 9th Street between Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“I appreciated the free and informative tour very much – thank you!” — Tom Underwood

Photo courtesy Tom Underwood.

Photo courtesy Tom Underwood.

Our June tour was of the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden. The garden was completely reconstructed last year and features roses, which, while maintaining beauty and fragrance, are also hardy (resistant to diseases). Companion plants enhance the design. The Rose Garden is located on the east side of the Smithsonian Castle.

Photo courtesy Steve Spangler.

Our August tour was of the National Air and Space Museum Garden. Landscape gardens include over seven acres of trees, shrubs, ground covers, and herbaceous perennial and annual plants. Set in multiple tiers of walled terraces, the plantings are intended to provide year-round seasonal interest to museum visitors and staff.

Happy Encore Learning garden tourists. Photo courtesy Erin Clark.

Our September tour was of the garden at the National Museum of American History. Installed in spring 2017, Common Ground: Our American Garden is an outdoor exhibit that tells the story of migration through the movement of people and plants. The garden encompasses the raised planting beds around the outside walls of the museum and features a colorful landscape of plants with important connections to American memory, healing, discovery, and ingenuity. Some may be culturally significant and come from an immigrant country of origin. Others are regionally developed heirloom varieties or native plants found here in America. Some provide flavor, fragrance, or medicinal qualities as beloved herbs. Many have been discovered by Americans here and abroad and contribute to the attainment of the American dream today.

Photos courtesy Karin Price.

Our October tour was of the garden at the National Museum of the American Indian. The grounds are considered an extension of the building and a vital part of the museum as a whole. The landscape is designed to recall the natural landscape environment that existed prior to European contact and encompass four habitats: upland hardwood forest, wetland, cropland, and meadow. More than 33,000 plants of approximately 150 species inhabit the space. These plants are native to the Piedmont region between the Atlantic coastal plain and the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to plants, the landscape brings together boulders from around the western hemisphere, clay sculptures, and water features to create a beautiful invitation to visitors to return to a Native place.

Our group with horticulturist Christine. Photo courtesy Bill Peters.

“I am new to Encore Learning and the Smithsonian Garden tour at the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum was the first special event I’ve attended. What a great way to start my membership! I’ve always enjoyed viewing that particular garden – but, until the tour, I never knew how much the museum used the products of the garden – cotton for weaving, tobacco for special ceremonies and vegetables (peppers, beans, kale and more!) for the restaurant. This was a terrific tour and that increased my knowledge of that particular museum complex as a whole. Thank you!” – Wendy Swanson

Our thanks to member Bill Peters, who worked with the Smithsonian to arrange this series of tours.