3 tips from the U.S. Botanic Garden for Mid-Atlantic, D.C. native gardens
National Garden in D.C.
Washington boasts a seemingly endless array of museums and gardens. Many locals leave these institutions of Americana for the tourists to navigate.
But the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., is one national treasure that locals shouldn't skip — less for the history lesson and more for the gardening advice.
The National Garden unfolds in the shadow of the Capitol dome, but don't let the name fool you. It's more like Washington's local garden and is billed as a "living laboratory that’s totally focused on Mid-Atlantic native plants."
It's a great place to visit before talking to a Washington landscaper about the best plants for your lawn and garden.
Mid-Atlantic garden tips
The Mid-Atlantic region is home to some uncommon richness of plant species resulting from its patchwork of habitats. It's all about geography: Because the area lies midway between the colder Northeast and warmer Southeast regions and many plants overlap, says Bill McLaughlin, horticulturist and plant curator at the Botanic Gardens.
There's also an east-meets-west situation in our region due to the colder continental regions to the west and the moderate coastal climate to the east.
“Adding native plants back into your garden helps shift the balance back to the positive,” McLaughlin says.
We've harvested three tips for going native from the Botanic Garden folks:
- Be sure to read up on native plants you purchase to understand their requirements. Many plants are easy to grow, but some require specific conditions.
- Make sure you buy plants from reputable Washington plant nurseries. Never purchase wild-collected plants.
- Rejoice in the birds, bees and other pollinators who will call your garden or lawn home.
The National Garden was created for people who want to incorporate natives plants into their everyday lives, whether it’s a flower bed, grass or vegetable garden.
It's also an enjoyable way to better understand the options a professional landscaper will offer when it's time to create your own private natural habitat at home.
Want to get started in your own tree box or backyard? How to plan a garden in the Washington, D.C., area.