National Herb Garden
The Herb Society Dream
December 15, 1978
On this day, construction began on the National Herb Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum.
Since 1965 a National Herb Garden was a dream of the Herb Society based in Kirtland, Ohio. After the Herb Society came up with $200,000 for the garden, Congress matched the funds. And so, the National Herb Garden was a gift from The Herb Society of America to the American people.
Located in Washington D.C., the garden occupies two and a half acres of the over 400 acres in the U.S. National Arboretum.
As the most extensive professionally-designed herb garden in North America, the garden was intended to inspire people to plant herbs in their own gardens and to use herbs in their cooking.
The National Herb Garden comprises annual, perennial, and woody herbal plants situated in three sections: a knot garden, a rose garden, and specialty gardens.
The knot garden is made up of Japanese holly, dwarf blue cypress, and dwarf arborvitae.
The Rose Garden is a nod to the critical role of roses in herbalism.
And finally, the ten specialty gardens are oval-shaped and have themes. There’s the Dioscorides (“DEE-scor-ee-days”) Garden. Dioscorides discovered an early version of aspirin when he found that sap from white willow tree bark and leaves helped with colds, body aches, and fevers. And so, the Dioscorides Garden grows the herbs described by Dioscorides.
There is also a Colonial Garden and a Dye Garden that grows herbs to color fabric and textiles, and other fascinating gardens like the Native American Garden. There are even gardens devoted to Modern Botanicals, Culinary and Industrial plants, as well as Fragrance, Oriental, and Beverage Gardens.
The National Herb Garden was dedicated on June 12, 1980, and celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2020 during the pandemic.
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