One of the species growing in the "Understory" exhibit, the Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica). (Jackie Bailey Labovitz/Courtesy U.S. Botanic Garden)
The Gate

It’s officially spring. While we wait for the cherry blossoms to peak, a trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden — a “living plant museum” — might help bend our minds toward the warmth and renewal of the season. Established by Congress in 1820, it is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. Its mission is to demonstrate “the aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic and ecological importance of plants,” but an afternoon stroll through also just makes you feel good.

12 Spring ephemeral understory species are featured in the “Understory” photography exhibit on display in the conservatory. The exhibit celebrates the short-lived flowers of perennial native plants that bloom beneath the forest canopy.
40 Varieties of begonias will be on display in a new exhibit opening April 1 in the south lobby.
84 Tours, lectures, workshops, demos and other spring programs at the garden from March through May — make sure you register.
171 Types of roses — old-fashioned, double blooming, shrub, fragrant — are getting ready to bloom in the collection.
200 Individual sachets of parasitic mites deployed in March — instead of chemicals — as part of the beneficial insect program to help control the population of other mites.
30,000 Bees will be installed in two hives on the conservatory roof.