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Scenes from the 2019 Season’s Greening Exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Up close and personal with a model of a topiary flamingo


The U.S. Botanic Garden is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, but it gets the most attention during the holidays when its annual Season’s Greenings exhibit is on display — and for good reason. Featuring the most delightful train display, models of DC landmarks in the festively decorated conservatory, plus concerts and extended hours, it’s one of the best ways to enjoy some holiday fun around DC.

The highlight, especially for kids (and the kid in all of us adults) is the garden railway, which is always beautiful, whimsical, and uniquely crafted from plant materials. This year’s theme is America’s Gardens with recreations of structures — conservatories, fountains, and sculptures — from botanical gardens around the country. See the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse from Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania (random fact: I worked there when I was in high school), the Science Pyramid from the Denver Botanic Gardens, the World’s Largest Concrete Garden Gnome from Iowa’s Reiman Gardens, the USBG’s own Bartholdi Fountain, the Biltmore Conservatory, Topiary Flamingos from Ohio, and many, many more fantastically imaginative works. The model trains zipping through it all adds another layer of whimsy and delight.

Try to get a close look to see how the individual leaves, seed pods, stems, and other plant parts are placed to create the works — it really is impressive. Stand back, too, to take it all in and appreciate the mini botanical wonderland.

Once again, in the main Garden Court you can also view Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials as well as poinsettias and other vibrant flora. And be sure to stop in the West Gallery where there is a 26-foot Christmas tree with its own model train whizzing by recreations of DC row houses — all made of plant materials and based on real homes on Capitol Hill and Georgetown.

For more holiday magic at the Botanic Garden, there are concerts Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when hours are extended until 8pm. This is my favorite time to go. The music adds extra spirit and it’s lovely to see the exhibit and plant collections illuminated by colorful lights. Plus, there’s usually no wait to get in then.

Be aware that lines to get in do get long, especially on weekends and when kids are on Winter Break from school. Your best bet for avoiding a wait is to go on a weekday before they’re off for the holidays (think after school activity) or on one of the Tuesday or Thursday evenings in December.

And if you get there and the line is just too long, there is more than just the Seasons Greenings exhibit to enjoy. Explore the plant collections, both inside and out, and pick up a Plant Hunt guide, so the kids can search for specific species. And be sure to check out Patrick Doherty’s amazing Stickwork Sculpture Installation in the National Garden. Bartholdi Garden, also part of the USBG right across Independence Avenue, will also be festively decorated this year.

Season’s Greenings opens on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, and runs through January 5, 2020, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Hours are 10am – 5pm daily (and noted 8pm closings on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December). Admission is free. Get more of a glimpse in the photos below, but definitely plan a visit there to enjoy it all in person!















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Filed under 2019, 2020, All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Seasonal, Special Event, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Scenes from the 2018 Season’s Greening Exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden



Every year I say that if my blog stats are any indication, the annual Season’s Greenings exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden easily is one of the most popular holiday attractions in DC. And that’s backed up by both the long lines to get in to see it and the joyful responses it elicits from visitors of all ages.

In case you’re new to DC (because that’s the only reason one would have for not knowing about the exhibit), every holiday season the USBG’s conservatory is transformed into a festive oasis featuring Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials as well as poinsettias and other vibrant flora. But the highlight, especially for kids (and the kid in all of us adults), is the garden railway, which is always a lovely, delightful display uniquely crafted from plant materials like the rest of the holiday installations.

This year’s All Aboard theme showcases train stations across the United States, from grand classic structures like New York’s Grand Central Station and Cincinnati’s Union Terminal to smaller, charming venues like Maui’s Lahaina Station and the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station to more unusual sites like Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Colorado and Mississippi’s Vicksburg Depot-Railroad Barge. There are also some “fantasy” stations included just for kids, like a Dino Depot and The North Pole village with sweet details kids will love like Santa’s Workshop, a gang of teddy bears, and cute apple and pear topped structures.

Be sure to get a close look at the details, as it’s fun to try to identify the materials used. You’ll see acorn caps, bamboo, eucalyptus leaves, gourds, pieces of tree bark, driftwood, even shelf fungus among the many plants used in the creation of the stations. And don’t miss the windows in the tunnel with neat little dioramas of scenes glimpsed on a train route, like grain fields in Kansas and orange groves in Florida. And if you’re looking for DC’s own Union Station, you won’t find it in the garden railway; it’s the newest addition to replicas of the city’s most iconic buildings on display in the conservatory.


You can also find a few pieces in other galleries, so plan on walking through the rest of the plant collections. If you’re interested in learning more about the stations on display, there will be binders with interesting facts about them and their locations as well as details on materials used to make the train station models. It’s also available online.

For more holiday magic at the Botanic Garden, there are concerts on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when hours are extended until 8pm. I highly recommend going to one of these, for both the music and to see the exhibit and plant collections illuminated by colorful lights. It’s a wonderful holiday experience!

Season’s Greenings opens on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, and runs through January 1. Hours are 10am – 5pm daily (and noted 8pm closings on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December). Admission is free.

For now, get a glimpse of it all in the scenes below.





















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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Scenes from Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden



The annual Season’s Greenings exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden is easily one of the most popular holiday attractions in DC — and for good reason. The conservatory is transformed into a festive oasis featuring Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials as well as poinsettias and other vibrant flora. A beautiful addition this year is an inspired botanical version of the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

But the highlight, especially for kids (and the kid in all of us adults) is the garden railway, which is always beautiful, whimsical, and uniquely crafted from plant materials like the rest of the holiday installations. This year’s Roadside Attractions theme takes you on a trip across the U.S. as miniature trains chug around mini replicas of iconic wacky sights located throughout the country. See Thomas the Tank Engine and friends circle a giant Mr. Potato Head (repping Rhode Island), zip past a Coffee Pot Water Tower (Nebraska), and roll straight into the mouth of The Blue Whale (Oklahoma). The Jolly Green Giant (Minnesota) is hoisting up some of the tracks, and Mount Rushmore (South Dakota) and Route 66 are backdrops for parts of the journey.

Not only can you see these petite oddities, you can learn more about them, too, as more info is available in the exhibit. Until now I had no idea that the Longenberger Basket company headquarters were designed to look like, you guessed it, a Longenberger basket (Ohio)! Or that the world’s tallest concrete gnome (Iowa) must be identified by the material because Poland has fiberglass gnome that’s a couple of feet taller. These are just a few of many fun tidbits to discover on Roadside Attractions tour.

You can also find a few pieces in other galleries, so plan on walking through the rest of the plant collections. To add some extra fun, kids should pick up an I Spy Plant Hunt card at the entrance. They can search for specific species around the USBG as well as the associated stamp to mark it off on the card.

Catching a concert last year

For more holiday magic at the Botanic Garden, there are concerts Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when hours are extended until 8pm. I highly recommend going to one of these, for both the music and to see the exhibit and plant collections illuminated by colorful lights. It’s a wonderful holiday experience!

Season’s Greenings opens on Thanksgiving, November 23, and runs through January 1. Hours are 10am – 5pm daily (and noted 8pm closings on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December). Admission is free. Get more of a glimpse in the photos below, but definitely go see for yourself!












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Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Music, Seasonal, Special Event, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Holidays at the Botanic Garden

A visit to Season's Greenings is always part of our holiday repertoire

 

As if I haven’t recommended Season’s Greenings enough as a great weekday, weekend, or holiday outing both here and on Facebook, I’m now dedicating a whole blog post to the annual holiday display at the U.S. Botanic Garden. I’ve already been three times this season — twice with the kids and once on my own. (Yeah, I kind of dig the USBG.)

But since you can read about all that is at Season’s Greenings in the KFDC Holiday Guide, this additional endorsement will give you a glimpse of what’s there. It’s also a reminder that hours are extended until 8pm on many Tuesdays and Thursdays in December for music in the garden. The concerts, featuring a different act each night, begin at 6pm. Here’s a preview of it all.

This guy will greet you on the way to the trains

The first adorable scene in the Enchanted Forest train display

Waiting for the train to emerge from a tunnel

This creature lurks among the forest

It's the details, like this tiny scene inside a tree trunk, that make the display so amazing

Sasha eyes a little room, all whittled from plant materials, behind glass

A mermaid watches over the trains

The Supreme Court constructed from plant materials is in the conservatory

Visited early on a weekday and nearly had the place to myself

What a treat to tour the jungle at night

Music during extended hours

 

Season’s Greenings will be on view at the U.S. Botanic Garden through January 1. Hours are 10am – 5pm every day, including all holidays. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December (except for Christmas day), the Conservatory is open until 8pm for extended hours and live music. Admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Nature, Seasonal, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter