This week in “J visits parks and hopes one day that this blog will be able to fund said trips as well as her National Parks annual pass,” I take a trip to the National Arboretum.
The truth is, I haven’t been to the National Arboretum this year. I went easily half a dozen times in 2014 and am hoping to up my game in 2015. This may be my last year in DC and I plan to take advantage of it.
Spring is coming to the mid-Atlantic, which means azaleas and cherry blossoms in DC and, critically, it is also the season in which E and I will be taking our crop top game to a whole new level. I plan to wear said crop tops when my embroidery circle (the Fiber Cats is our tentative name) meets at the arboretum for textile arts and Old Fashioneds. I also plan to do most of my Sunday reading in my favourite reading spot in DC.
The arboretum rarely if ever feels crowded, even on the weekends during the spring and summer. And even then, only in particular areas such as the field around the capitol columns or in and around the bonsai and penjing gardens. If you drive a little further into the arboretum, it opens up and swallows you.
Every time I have gone, I have spent most of my time wandering through the dogwood and Japanese trails and mostly had the place to myself. There are so many hidden gems to be found. There are benches that look out over the bamboo forests or are gracefully placed beneath willow trees. There are also plenty of look-outs cabins and pavilions to discover.
The bonsai and penjing collection at the arboretum is easily one of its most popular. The founding collection of 53 bonsai and 6 viewing stones was donated to the US in 1976 by the Nippon Bonsai Association. Now there are three pavilions that are home to over 150 different bonsai. Many of the bonsai are several hundred years old and still look so fresh.
DC is all about the cherry blossoms in April. The cherry blossom festival and the ring of trees around the tidal basin on the national mall are both amazing and well worth fighting the crowds (at least once). The arboretum has its own collection of cherry blossoms and is off-the-beaten-path enough that it never gets too lousy with tourists.
On one of my last summer days in DC, I went to the arboretum for a picnic. A friend of mine is an entomologist and pointed out some beautiful dogbane beetles that were hanging out. Keep your eyes peeled for these little guys come summer. They like to hang in pairs.
I will leave you with this photo of a bonsai in the hopes that if I haven’t succeeded, then it will convince you to plan your next weekend or trip around the National Arboretum.
PS: The photo at the top of the post was taken at the arboretum last spring.