- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

A walk onto the terrace of the United States Botanic Garden gives visitors a sampling of 12 public gardens across America.

“A Sense of Place,” the exhibit that opened last month and continues through Oct. 8, highlights the trees and plants from different regions.

Horticulture staff from botanic gardens, parks and arboretums designed and constructed display gardens that represent their institutions. Visitors will see a Japanese garden with a teahouse, a bog garden of carnivorous plants, a desert display of cactuses and other succulents, and a Hawaiian island garden with a thatch-roofed beach hut, among others.

“In each place, those gardens have grown up and reflect those communities where they exist,” said Dan Stark, executive director of the American Public Gardens Association in Wilmington, Del. “As you walk into each garden room, you feel like you’ve gone from one part of the country to another. You’ll feel like they’re completely different, which is a great demonstration of what we’re talking about when we talk about diversity and beauty.”

Each display garden reflects the philosophy of the founder or the garden’s mission, Mr. Stark said.

The exhibit and another called “Green Today, Growing Tomorrow” are part of the “Celebrating America’s Public Gardens” presentation of the work, diversity and importance of the country’s 750 public gardens. More than 300,000 visitors are expected at the two exhibits, presented by the United States Botanic Garden and the American Public Gardens Association.

“A botanic garden is always located in a community, region or state, so it represents the context in which it is located,” said Christine Flanagan, public programs manager for the United States Botanic Garden. “A botanic garden always reflects a history of place.”

“Green Today, Growing Tomorrow,” which is on display in the National Garden, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the work and stewardship of public gardens.

“The opportunity for people to be around plants really gives them a chance to understand how much they impact our everyday lives,” Mr. Stark said. “When public gardens provide those opportunities through their education and outreach programs, people start to recognize how important those plants are.”

The 12 gardens represented in the “A Sense of Place” are:

{bullet}Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest of Clermont, Ky.: a demonstration of native species in their habitats.

{bullet}Brooklyn Botanic Garden of New York: an urban oasis in New York City.

{bullet}Denver Botanic Gardens: a display of Rocky Mountain flora.

{bullet}Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park of Grand Rapids, Mich.: an art and garden setting.

{bullet}Huntington Botanical Gardens of San Marino, Calif.: a botanical collection with various themed gardens.

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