The United States National Arboretum
Ford's Theatre
Eng. and Printing
National Archives
Old Post Office
Old Stone House
Supreme Court
U.S. Botanic Garden
U.S. Capitol
White House
National Zoo

Live Theaters
Art Galleries
Phone Numbers
What's New
Books And Videos

3501 New York Ave. NE
Telephone: 202.475.4815
Admission: Free
Arboretum Grounds:
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

National Bonsai Collection:
10:00 AM - 2:30 PM

Administration Builing and Information Center
Monday - Friday 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday for scheduled events only

The Arboretum is closed December 25.

Activities of the United States National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., are concerned primarily with educationing the public and conducting research on trees and shrubs.

In keeping with the educational aims, many varieties of trees and shrubs are being assembled and labled for public display.

Research on woody plants emphasizes the development of superior forms that will grow in various climatic zones in the United States. A herbarium containing 500,000 dried plants is maintained for technical reference.

The Arboretum was established by an act of Congress on March 4, 1927. In 1973, the National Arboretum was placed on the The National Register of Historic Places, identifying it as worthy of preservation for its historic value. It is administered by the Secretary of Agriculture and is part of the Agricultural Research Service. An advisory committee, composed of public-spirited citizens and representatives of interested organizations, assists the Secratary in developing the Arboretum and its program. This program is national in scope.

The Arboretum's location also adds to its national character. It is an intermediate climatic zone, which makes possible the growing of trees and shrubs from a relatively wide range of climatic situations.

The Arboretum Plantings

Plants are arranged in different combinations throughout the Arboretum. Nine miles of paved roads provide access to the principal plant groups.

In the Arboretum are single-genus groupings of hollies, crabapples, azaleas, magnolias, boxwoods, cherries, irises, daylilies, peonies, viburnum, rhododendrons, and maple. Simple and mixed plantings are grouped for landscape effect. Other plantings are grouped for use as ground covers and bank covers.

Plants in the Morrison Azalea Garden are grouped in a formal arrangement.

Plant groups of unusual interest include the azalea plantings, which are among the most extensive in the Nation; acquatic plantings; the National Bonsai Collection; the collection of oriental plants in the Cryptomeria Valley of the Garden Club of America; the Gotelli Dwarf Conifer Collection the dogwood plantings of the Woman's National Farm and Garden Association; Fern Valley, sponsored by the National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs and other organizations; and the National Herb Garden, sponsored by The Herb Society of America. The National Bonsai Collection, a bicentennial gift from the Japanese people is housed in a specially constructed pavilion.

Seasonal Highlights

Late March - Early April - The early leaf greens, flowers of camellias, the first pears, magnolias, winterhazels, witchhazels, cornelian-cherries, and early bulbs which have been naturalized in considerable quantity.

Mid-April - Quince, magnolias, the earlier azaleas and rhododendrons, daffodils, and the flowering cherries and crabapples.

Late April and May - The main mass of azaleas, flowering dogwood, and the later crabapples are followed by native azaleas, mountain laurel, the hughe blooms of the elephant-ear magnolia, peonies, and old roses.

June - August - Daylilies, lilies, and waterlilies are followed by crapemyrtles, hibiscuses, and herbs. Scattered shrubs bloom throughout the summer.

September - October - Fall-flowering Lycoris and Sternbergia, and massed fruits of crabapples, fire thorns, holly and a host of berried shrubs. Fall display begins in mid-September and continues through October, when tree foliage exhibits is spectacular change in color. This color change is highlighted by the rich yellows of tulip poplar and hickory, and the reds and bronzes of the gums and dogwoods that are abundantly scattered throughout the native woodlands.

All Season - The Gotelli Dwarf Conifer Collection, Watnong Collection, the Holly Walk, Fern Valley, the National Bonsai Collection, boxwood, and the National Herb Garden provide interest throughout the growing season.

Location of the Arboretum

The Aboretum occupies 444 acres in the northeast section of the District of Columbia. It is bounded on the west by Blandensburg Road, on the north by New York Avenue, and on the south by M Street. The visitors' entrance is located on New York Avenue, Northeast.

Cars or Taxicabs - From Capitol Hill, take Maryland Avenue to M Street/Maryland Avenue entrance. From downtown Washington, take New York Avenue and enter service road after crossing Bladensburg Road. For evening functions use R Street entrance off of Blandensburg Road.

Public Transportation - From central Washington, take metrorail or bus No. 42 to Stadium Armory Station; then change to bus B-2, B-4, or B-5 to intersection of Bladensburg Road and R Street. Walk east on R Street 300 yards to the R Street gate. For information on metrorail or bus routes and schedules call (202) 637 - 7000.

Rules for Visitors

The following regulations are necessary for the protection and functioning of the Arboretum:
  • Visitors enter the Arboretum at their own risk.
  • The vehicle speed limit is 15 miles per hour.
  • Park in designated areas only.
  • All pets must be kept on leashes.
  • Children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.
  • All plants, fish and wildlife are protected. Plant labels are not to be removed.
  • Picnicing is permitted only in the designated area.
  • Please use receptacles for litter.
  • The building of fires is prohibited. Visitors are requested to be especially careful during dry periods in disposing of cigars, cigarettes, and matches.
  • Collecting plant material and flowers is prohibited.
  • Sport and recreation activities are prohibited.
  • Loud playing of radios and other audio equipment is prohibited.
  • No bike riding on garden paths.

Guide Service

Volunteer guide service is maintained by the National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs; organized groups requiring the services of a guide should makde arrangement for the service well in advance of the proposed visiting date.

Visiting Hours

The Arboretum grounds are open every day of the year except Christmas. The visiting hours all year round are as follows:

Monday through Friday - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Administration Building and the Information Center are open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends for scheduled events only. The greenhouses are not open to the public. The National Bonsai Collection is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Text by the Argricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture
© Copyright Thaddeus O. Cooper 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000