We’ve been spending a lot of time at the U.S. Botanic Garden lately. It’s one of those go-to places that we never seem to get tired of visiting. Plus, it’s a fairly easy walk from our house (and an even easier drive on a rainy day or when I’m feeling lazy), it’s rarely crowded, and there’s something to enjoy no matter what the weather.
Sometimes we go with an activity in mind — play time in the Children’s Garden or a tour of the jungle area where Dora lives (or so Sasha says). Other times we just wander among plant collections, sit in the peaceful Garden Court, stop to sniff herbs and spices in the “Plants in Culture” exhibit, or stroll/relax/play in the National Garden outside.
Today, we went with another purpose: We wanted to check out Savage Gardens, an exhibit about carnivorous plants that opened last weekend. Housed mostly in the East Conservatory, the exhibit isn’t very big, but what there is of it is pretty interesting. Large panels on the walls around the room describe different species of carnivorous plants with live ones there to view, too. There are also some interactive displays where you can spin a wheel to learn about plant families, remove (fake) insects from (fake) plants with giant tweezers to see what kinds of bugs they’ve eaten, flip tiles to find out how plants catch their prey, and place magnetic plants on a large picture of a pond scene.
But the centerpieces of the exhibit are giant models of three meat-eating plants, most of which are interactive in some way. You can step inside a 10-foot tropical pitcher plant, press buttons to activate the “traps” on a Venus flytrap, and see the tentacles of a sundew light up. There is also a smaller Venus flytrap model, where you can catch bugs using a foot pedal to close them in, and a 15-foot model of a North American pitcher plant is located outside, just before you enter the Conservatory building.
It only took about half an hour to see the exhibit, so we took a quick walk through some of the other collections before making our way to the Children’s Garden, where the kids played with the water pump, dug in the soil, and watered some of the potted plants. When the indoor part of the USBG closed at 5pm, we headed out to the National Garden, which is open until 7pm, where the kids ran along the paths and looked at fishies in the small pond.
Savage Gardens runs through October 8. If you’re interesting in checking out the exhibit, plan on some other activities while you’re there, since it doesn’t take very long to see. The Botanic Garden’s Conservatory is open daily 10am – 5pm (as noted, the National Garden is open until 7pm). Admission is free.