For those environmentally friendly folks looking to spend a fun day in D.C., there's no better place to go than the U.S. National Arboretum
. The National Arboretum is a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility and living museum. It is great for a whole day's worth of fun or for just a quick picnic lunch. During the summer months, daylilies, waterlilies, crepe myrtles, herbs and meadow flowers are in bloom.
Some perks of the experience:
- Bike riding is allowed
- For those not looking to hike the extensive grounds, you can drive and park at whichever destination you choose
- Pets are allowed as long as they are on a leash
- Great variety: dogwoods, ferns, conifers, bonsai, magnolias, boxwoods
- Did I mention it's free?
A great feature of the Arboretum this summer is the “Power Plants” exhibit. There is a selecction of plants that can be or have been used as sources of bioenergy. For example, some plants, such as the corn and sugar cane, are already used to produce ethanol, or soybeans which are used in producing biodiesel. The plants being featured are: castor beans, barley, mustard, jatropha, sugarcane, corn, sunflower, African oil palm, soybean, switchgrass, poplar, sorghum, algae, alfalfa, sugar beet, cuphea, miscanthus, camelina, lequerella, peanut and canola. They are further classified as either sugar ethanol, grain ethanol, cellulosic ethanol or biodiesel. In front of each plant is a description of which properties make it conducive to producing energy and an explanation of how the energy is harvested.
My favorite part of the Arboretum is the National Herb Garden, which is 2½ acres filled with 800 kinds of herbs from around the world and grouped into 10 different themed gardens. It's a blast to walk through and have different smells pervading all around you. The Herb Garden also features a “Sensory Tour” where there are designated areas where visitors are encouraged to use all five senses in experiencing the herbs.
So if you are in the D.C. area looking to spend some quality time outdoors and maybe to get away from the hustle and bustle, suits and Blackberrys, the U.S. National Arboretum is the place to be!