[United States Government Manual]
[June 01, 2002]
[Pages 45-46]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]


Office of Executive Director, 245 First Street SW., Washington, DC 20024
Phone, 202-226-8333. Internet, www.usbg.gov.

Conservatory, 100 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20024
Phone, 202-225-8333

Production Facility, 4700 Shepherd Parkway SW., Washington, DC 20032
Phone, 202-563-2220
Director (Architect of the Capitol)            Alan M. Hantman, Acting
Executive Director                             Holly H. Shimizu


The United States Botanic Garden informs visitors about the aesthetic, 
cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological importance of plants to 
the well-being of humankind.

The U.S. Botanic Garden carries out its mission by presenting artistic 
displays of plants, exhibits, and a program of educational activities; 
promoting botanical knowledge through the cultivation of an ordered 
collection of plants; fostering plant conservation by acting as a 
repository for endangered species; and growing plants for the 
beautification of the Capitol complex. Uniquely situated at the heart of 
the U.S. Government, the Garden seeks to promote the exchange of ideas 
and information relevant to this mission among national and 
international visitors and policymakers.
    Collections of the U.S. Botanic Garden include orchids, epiphytes, 
bromeliads, carnivorous plants, ferns, cycads, cacti, succulents, 
medicinal plants, rare and endangered plants, and plants valued as 
sources of food, beverages, fibers, and other industrial products.
    The U.S. Botanic Garden is currently undergoing a significant 
expansion and transformation. The Conservatory, one of the largest 
structures of its kind in this country, re-opened on December 11, 2001, 
after undergoing major renovation that required more than 4 years to 
complete. In addition to upgraded amenities for visitors, it features 12 

[[Page 46]]

exhibit and plant display areas that interpret plants in their 
relationship to humankind and to the environment. Construction for the 
National Garden, a 3-acre site just west of the Conservatory, is 
scheduled to begin in 2002, and will require about 2 years. This new 
public facility will feature a First Ladies water garden, a formal rose 
garden, a showcase garden displaying the outstanding native plants of 
the Mid-Atlantic region in naturalistic settings, and the Senator John 
Heinz Environmental Learning Center.
    Outdoor plantings are showcased in Bartholdi Park, a home landscape 
demonstration area located across Independence Avenue from the 
Conservatory. Each of the displays is sized and scaled for suitability 
in an urban or suburban house site. The gardens display ornamental 
plants that perform well in this region arrayed in a variety of styles 
and themes. Also located in this park is Bartholdi Fountain, created by 
Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), sculptor of the Statue of 
    The U.S. Botanic Garden makes available many rare and interesting 
botanical specimens for study to students, botanists, and 
floriculturists. In addition to educational programs and special 
exhibits, a horticultural hotline is available to answer questions from 
the public.
    The U.S. Botanic Garden was founded in 1820 under the auspices of 
the Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences, an 
organization that was the outgrowth of an association known as the 
Metropolitan Society and that received its charter from Congress on 
April 20, 1818. The Garden continued under the direction of this 
Institute until 1837, when the Institute ceased to exist as an active 
    The U.S. Botanic Garden remained abandoned until 1842, when it 
became necessary for the Government to provide accommodations for the 
botanical collections brought to Washington, DC, from the South Seas by 
the U.S. Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, under the leadership of Capt. 
Charles Wilkes. The collections were placed temporarily on exhibition at 
the Patent Office upon return of the expedition in June 1842. The first 
greenhouse for this purpose was constructed in 1842 on a lot behind the 
Patent Office Building under the direction and control of the Joint 
Committee of Congress on the Library, from funds appropriated by 
    The act of May 15, 1850 (9 Stat. 427), provided for the relocation 
of the Botanic Garden under the direction of the Joint Committee on the 
Library. The site selected was on The Mall at the west end of the 
Capitol Grounds, practically the same site the Garden occupied during 
the period it functioned under the Columbia Institute. This site was 
later enlarged, and the main area continued to serve as the principal 
Garden site from 1850 to 1933, when the Garden was relocated to its 
present site.
    Although the U.S. Botanic Garden began functioning as a Government-
owned institution in 1842, the records indicate that it was not until 
1856 that the maintenance of the Garden was specifically placed under 
the direction of the Joint Committee on the Library and a regular, 
annual appropriation was provided by Congress (11 Stat. 104).
    At the present time the Joint Committee exercises its supervision 
through the Architect of the Capitol, who has held the title of Acting 
Director since 1934.

For further information concerning the United States Botanic Garden, 
contact the Public Programs Division, 245 First Street SW., Washington, 
DC 20024. Phone, 202-225-8333. Plant Hotline, 202-226-4785. Internet,