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Sunday, July 27, 2014

#29 - United States National Arboretum

Whenever I go on a hike, I like to make sure there will be something interesting to see, or beautiful surroundings. Hiking is a stress reliever and to be able to enjoy the surroundings, while getting a good workout in, is a big part of the motivation for me. Saturday's six mile hike at the United States National Arboretum provided the perfect backdrop to a hike of rolling hills.
Hiking through a portion of the Azalea collection

The arboretum is 446 acres of research, beauty and recreational area, run by the US Department of Agriculture, and located within view of the US Capitol. It almost seems to be a secret, or a place people don't feel is worthwhile of a visit, but it's nine miles of roads and paths are perfect for biking, hiking, running - or even driving if that is what you prefer.

Pick a season to see various blooms throughout the year. From the Azalea collection to Perennials, Dogwoods to Asian gardens, and the National Grove of State Trees, there are paths and roads aplenty to see quite a diverse park.

Bonnie and I hiking by the Perennial collection
Beauty along the way

The National Grove of State Trees was an interesting area about 1.5 miles in. It provides a chance to see various State trees. My favorite, the White Oak of Maryland; and one I had not seen before, the Ohio Buckeye.

Two White Oaks side by side - These are offspring of the Wye Oak, which was the largest white oak in the U.S.
Ohio Buckeye
Ohio Buckeye with Fruit (nut)
From here you move on toward the Capitol Columns. Twenty-two Corinthian columns that were located at the East portico of the Capitol building prior to the Capitol's expansion. The columns were the backdrop for presidential inaugurations from Andrew Jackson to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Abraham Lincoln gave his famous second inaugural address in front of them.

What was most interesting was the sandstone from which these columns were made came from the quarry at Government Island, less than 1 mile where we live today, and where we frequently take local hikes.

Capitol Columns
Capitol Columns

Bonita at Capitol Columns

Government Island at Aquia Creek. Where the sandstone was quarried.
The route goes on and on. At this stage we were not half way through. From the meadow of where the the columns are located, we headed to a wooded area, where the shade provided a perfect break. From there, to Asian Gardens, the Dogwood Exhibit and onto the Conifer collection.

Varying landscape - woods to meadows to fields to hills
Still to bloom - though unidentified

As wide as it is tall! And a perfect shady area underneath!
The Conifer collection was quite remarkable. The trunk and root structures, the colors, the shapes and sizes. One man, William Gotelli, donated his 1500 conifer collection to the Arboretum so they could continue to be enjoyed. I added his marker here in appreciation of him.

Conifer Collection

Shades of Green
Conifer Collection
William Gotelli
 Six miles hiked; a lot of beauty seen, a perfect day to be outside. We picked the right route as things got better and better as we went along. At the end, we finished with the Arboretum's incredible bonsai collection, then the herb garden. The hike was over. These were cooldown activities.

The daddy of them all was the below bonsai dating to 1625. It survived the attack on Nagasaki and is nearly 400 years old.

If you need a good day to get out and do something a little different, a place to take a picnic lunch, ride a bike, or hike anywhere from 2-9 miles, the National Arboretum is a worthwhile destination. Pick a season to find your favorite trees, shrubs, and flowers in bloom!

Keep Hiking, Friends!

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