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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Gardens Unit » Research » Research Project #426365

Research Project: Establish and Maintain Public Display Gardens for Woody and Herbaceous Landscape Plants

Location: Gardens Unit

2018 Annual Report

Objective 1: Collect, propagate, preserve, evaluate, document, display, distribute, and introduce woody and herbaceous landscape ornamentals with enhanced aesthetic appeal, resistance to extreme weather, resistance to pests and diseases, and enhanced ecosystem benefits. Collection activities will focus on native plants due to difficulties with collecting plants in most other countries. [NP301, C1, PS1A] Objective 2: Disseminate scientific and practical information to floral and nursery crop industries, to public gardens, to the increasing number of visitors to the U.S. National Arboretum and its Website, and to the general public interested in gardening. [NP301, C2, PS2B] Sub-objective 2.a. Develop exhibits and interpretive signage that reflect current relevant ARS horticultural research programs, including the scientific mission of the U.S. National Arboretum. Sub-objective 2.b. Develop educational programming to increase awareness of ARS research and germplasm preservation taking place at the U.S. National Arboretum.

The U.S. National Arboretum will continue to serve the public need for scientific research, education, and gardens that conserve and showcase plants to enhance the environment. This will be accomplished by maintaining outstanding gardens, plant collections, and public displays in an environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing manner. New ornamental cultivars and germplasm will be acquired using the Collections Policy and the newly developed Strategic Plan as a guide, and in support of the National Plant Germplasm System. Plants will come from nursery sources, wild-collected, or the USNA research program. Plants with superior landscape attributes will be propagated for distribution and evaluation. Staff will continue to utilize integrated pest management (IPM) in management of their collections and will explore the use or demonstration of other technologies such as solar power, green roofs, rain gardens, and water wise gardens as funds allow. Plant records will be updated and coordinated with GRIN-global, and information will be uploaded to the publicly accessible Arboretum Botanical Explorer database. A new exhibit and educational program, GrassRoots, will be put in place. Educational opportunities will be optimized and implemented to provide formal and informal educational programming through exhibits, signs, publications, web pages, lectures, workshops, and tours. Volunteer and internship programs will continue to be supported.

Progress Report
Aki Matsuri Festival: The Arboretum hosted an Aki Masturi Autumn Festival that featured bonsai and Japanese cultural activities and Japanese plants. The Festival is a way to provide informal education opportunities to visitors and was focused on Asian plants and their importance in American gardens. Springhouse Run Stream Restoration and R Street Parking Lot Retrofits: Instruction is complete. Planting is complete for the Parking Lot Retrofits and is nearing completion for the Stream Restoration. There is a need to identify long-term resources for invasive plant surveillance and removal in this area. Friendship Garden Renovation: The design effort for ecological plantings in the front portion of the garden is underway, and existing plants that will not be part of the new design will be removed, as will soil that contains superoptimal levels of organic matter. Planting is scheduled for autumn of 2018. Support of Entomological Research: Ongoing support has been provided to researchers in the Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, and the Beneficial Insects Research Laboratory in Newark, Delaware, in utilizing the grounds of the USNA for research related to biocontrol of landscape pests. Some of the findings of the research have been shared with arborists and urban foresters through an educational workshop.

1. Germplasm acquisition, distribution, and incorporation into collections. A major objective of the Gardens Unit is to enrich the living plant display collections at the U.S. National Arboretum by incorporating documented germplasm into these areas. We have added 505 new accessions to the living collections and have distributed 449 plants this year. Renovation of major garden areas that has resulted in increased acquisition and incorporation of new plants. A Collection Development Plan was completed for the Maple Collection. These plans guide future acquisitions.

2. Dissemination of plant information to the public. The arboretum hosted 600,000 visitors in the last year, an increase of 20% over the previous year. The new Arboretum App has been downloaded by nearly 10,000 people and greatly facilities access to information about the holdings of U.S. National Arboretum. 1,875 people registered for fee-based educational programs. Additional programs targeted toward children were added, and a new series of workshops featuring herbs has been developed. Public programs provide a framework for interpreting gardens, collections, and plants to the public.