The U.S. National Arboretum is much more than a showcase of American horticulture. It is also a place where gardeners of all ages can fill their souls with the inspiration that only gardens can provide. Scores of youngsters in the neighborhoods surrounding the Arboretum can get their first taste of gardening in the Youth Garden. The Washington Youth Garden is funded and operated by the Friends of the National Arboretum and charitable contributions from a wide range of supporters.
The Washington Youth Garden sows the seeds of interest in gardening, horticulture, and environmental issues during the school year with carefully designed lessons and activities that are delivered in the classrooms of several schools in the area. The children who participate in these activities are in grades 3, 4, and 5. When spring arrives, students who have developed a strong interest in the program begin planting their own small garden plot in the Youth Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum. As summer progresses, they experience the drama of nature that is often missing in urban life. They enjoy the wonder of watching seeds sprout, nurturing growth, and proudly harvesting the fruits of their labor. They also experience the challenge of weeds, the attack of pests that is so often met by the counterattacks of beneficial insects, and the cycle of death, decay, and rebirth as they manage their plots.
Nestled between the Grove of State Trees and the Fern Valley Native Plant Collection, the Washington Youth Garden is at its bountiful best in high summer. Extensive plantings of colorful annual and perennial flowers ring the collection and invite passersby to venture inside to see the children's' handiwork in about 100 small individual plots. A butterfly garden and a cutting garden teach the importance of nature's beauty and the interdependence of plants and animals in our everyday lives.
You'll want to plan at least a half hour visit if you come to the Washington Youth Garden. The paths in the garden are not handicapped accessible. The flower borders are at peak in late summer, as are the garden plots.
Last Updated October 22, 2008 3:41 PM
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