Green Scene

Green Scene: Holidays are a special time of year to visit D.C. area gardens

Plant-based materials are used in the train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
Plant-based materials are used in the train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden. (Sandra Leavitt Lerner For The Washington Post)
By Joel M. Lerner
Saturday, December 5, 2009

The holidays bring out the best at the Washington region's most beloved gardens, many of which offer special programs and displays through December. Here's a list of some of my favorite upcoming events, many of which are free. Be sure to call ahead to make sure there's no required pre-registration.

The District

Evergreens 101. (Daily through Dec. 31.) A display of the area's nine species of popular cut trees accompanied by text explaining which ones last the longest, smell the best and make for easy decorating. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Ave. NE, 202-245-4523,

Holiday Magic. (Daily through Jan. 10.) Explore the National Mall in miniature and see displays made from plant-based materials, including an enchanted storybook garden with Snow White's cottage and the Owl and the Pussycat's pea green boat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW, 202-225-1116,

Holiday music. (Tuesdays and Thursdays through Dec. 29.) The U.S. Botanic Garden will stay open until 8 p.m. and feature live performances of seasonal music.

Wreath workshop. (Dec. 5) Learn about the Hillwood Estate's holiday decorations on a short outdoor walk with horticulturalist Bill Johnson, then create your own wreath. Supplies are provided. Classes are limited to 15 people. $50. Registration required. From 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW, 202-686-5807,

Wreath workshops. (Dec. 5 and 11) Use cedar boughs, magnolia leaves, holly, pinecones and boxwood to build your own wreath at Tudor Place in Georgetown. All materials provided. 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Dec. 5; 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Dec. 11. $35. Registration required. Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, 1644 31st St. NW, 202-965-0400,

Winter Silhouettes exhibit. (Dec. 5 - 20) Winter is the best time to enjoy the art of bonsai by observing the "bare bones" of the trees. The trees on exhibit are from the National Arboretum's permanent collection. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, Special Exhibits Wing, U.S. National Arboretum.

Holiday wreath class. (Dec. 12) Create a beautiful and fragrant wreath with a mix of evergreens, cones and ribbon. Bring special ornaments and pruners. All other materials provided. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. $40. Pre-registration required. U.S. Botanic Garden.

Invasive plant removal. (Dec. 12) Sponsored by the Anacostia Watershed Society. Conservation biologist Jorge Bogantes Montero will lead the group. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Meet at Fort Dupont Park. For directions to restoration event or more information, call 301-699-6204, or e-mail

Serene Sunday. (Dec. 27) Stroll through the gardens and enjoy the estate's holiday decorations. 1-5 p.m. Hillwood.


Garden of Lights. (Through Jan. 3) Brookside Gardens has more than 900,000 lights arranged in imaginative displays representing the four seasons, with designs including giant sunflowers, autumn leaves, snowflakes and geese. 5:30-9 p.m. The event includes musical performances nightly in the visitors center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Weekdays, $15 per car (cash only), Friday-Sunday $20. Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, 301-962-1400,

Beginner bird walks. (Saturdays) Sponsored by the Audubon Naturalist Society. Approximately one hour. Bring binoculars or use theirs. Meet in front of Sanctuary Shop at 8 a.m. Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase, 301-652-9188,

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