Garden Lifestyle

Season’s Greenings: America’s Gardens at USBG

As always, the winter holiday exhibit at the U.

  • I wouldn't miss my annual visit to the Season's Greenings Holiday display at the US Botanic Garden! Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Love the combinations of color and textures of traditional red pointsettias with the feathery silver grey foliage of Helichrysum italicum (sometimes called curry plant--though this one had very little aroma and no taste).
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Stunning red and silver ornamentation set off the holiday display.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • How 'bout this for an idea? Dried ornamental cabbages sprayed red!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Posing with herbal friends Laura Anthony, Pat Kenny and Jim Adams in front of this beautiful tree in the West Gallery.
  • The pointsettia display is always amazing with plants of every color and size.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Here's one of the trees adorned with ornaments from gardens across the country. How about the fuschia and lime green combo of botanicals--isn't it dazzling?!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Love this model of Longwood Gardens' Canopy Cathedral Treehouse--which I have visited in real life.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • The Biltmore Conservatory is in Asheville, North Carolina, and is on my list of places to see.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • I really want to visit these green-roofed houses in the Children's Garden at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Another destination on my list is this Science Pyramid at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Saved the best for last! This was perhaps my favorite plant display this year--these trailing Dicondra argentea vines were like a chandelier in the hanging gardens of Babylon--quite impressive!
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

As always, the winter holiday exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden is worth seeing. This year the theme was America’s Gardens–public and botanic gardens from Hawaii to Maine–which made me want to visit some of these gardens that I have not seen. Besides this remarkable display, the conservatory is filled with thousands of flowers and other showy botanicals. It is a wonderful place to enter into from the cold.

Even when the holiday show is finished, there is always something to see–I love the medicinal herbs, the Mediterranean plants, the rainforest and desert areas–and the orchid show is up next! I enjoy watching the visitors from around the globe enter the conservatory as their eyeglasses fog up and I watched kids start to peel off their coats exclaiming “Wow it is hot in here!”

This year’s display of plant material in the conservatory was gorgeous. The unusual use of the feathery, silver-grey Helichrysum italicum with the red pointsettias and other silver and red plants and ornamentation was simply lovely. Some inspired artist had the bright idea of cutting down those pesky trees-of-heaven and spraying them silver and wrapping them with tiny white lights; what a great use for those dang invasives! The “chandelier” of hanging plants in the entrance was most impressive–one would never know that it was the fairly common trailing Dicondra argentea–this display was reminiscent of the hanging gardens of Babylon.

I really loved the fact that gardens from across the country sent ornaments for two special trees which were decorated with ornaments representing the diversity of the more than 800 public gardens found across the United States. Public gardens are a crucial place for educating people about plants and the U.S. Botanic Garden is a member of both American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International, professional organizations for the field of public horticulture. And the use of lime green foliage with the fuschia pink pointsettias surrounding the trees was stunning.

Kids and adults line up to see the train display meandering through the amazing structures built totally from botanicals by Applied Imagination. Hard to choose a favorite this year, although both the Biltmore House and Conservatory were most impressive. I liked the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse from Longwood Gardens; the Bridge from the Chinese Garden from the Huntington Botanical Gardens; the Science Pyramids from Denver Botanic Gardens; and the little Green Roof Houses from the Children’s Garden from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens to name a few. The diorama of the Sunken Garden at Como Park Conservatory was unbelievably detailed.

“Public gardens are a crucial place for educating people about plants.” Make a plan for 2020 to be sure and visit the public botanical gardens and conservatories in your locale–and if you are planning a trip be sure to research gardens to see near your destination. The USBG was founded in 1820 and is the oldest, continuously operating public garden in North America.” It is always worth visiting any time of year.


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