In My Own Backyard

A seemingly (but not actually) calm moment by the fountain in the dogwood collection.
A seemingly (but not actually) calm moment by the fountain in the dogwood collection.

I’ve lived in DC for a long time now… 13 years and change, if my memory is correct. And somehow, in all those years, I have managed to never go to what I now know to be one of the most beautiful places in the city: the National Arboretum. This oversight is made worse by the fact that it’s practically in my backyard – less than three miles, if Google Maps is to be believed.

I spent most of the day today there with my sister-in-law Jen and my nephews, and I think it’s safe to say we all had a terrific time. We started our visit with a picnic in the grove of state trees, where we sat under  Oklahoma’s offering because their pink flowers were so pretty. After lunch, we wandered through the azalea walk, which was nothing short of outstanding.

(In the defense of, like, everyone I know in DC, I’ve been told numerous times that the azaleas at the arboretum are gorgeous and well worth a springtime visit. The fact that I ignored them for more than a decade is clearly my fault, not theirs. Learn from my mistake; if you’re in or near DC in the next week or so, go see the azaleas. You will not be disappointed.)

We followed the azaleas with a lengthy diversion involving a gigantic uprooted tree stump that provided a natural – and exceptionally dirty – place for the boys to climb. I have not a moment’s doubt that they’d still be there if Jen and I had not made them leave. Next, we hit the koi pond near the (currently being rehabbed) visitors’ center, which D & G loooooved, and Jen and I found gross and slightly creepy, as some of the koi were close to two feet long and just looked foul and slimy and ancient. The kids, however, thought they were amazing, and declared feeding them their favorite point of the day.

We also visited the installation of the original columns of the U.S. Capitol building, which were removed during alterations to the east side of the building in the 1950s, and the dogwood collection, from which we could see the Anacostia River. The columns were neat – and a piece of DC history that I had forgotten I knew about. And I love dogwoods (my current apartment has two in the front yard and one in the back) so I particularly loved that garden. There were benches and a fountain, and I could see it being an entirely peaceful place to spend an afternoon with a book… though in this particular instance, my nephews’ strong desire to have a water fight kind of killed the mood.

I can’t wait for a chance to get back out there. We missed several areas of the grounds, so I expect Jen will bring the boys down for a visit again soon. I might not be able to wait, though. I’ll have to take a look at the bus routes to see what might get me close.

Oh, and one more bit of awesomeness – despite the fact that it’s spring break, the arboretum was not crowded. At all. We were certainly not the only people, but compared to how the zoo would have been today, it was dead empty. Joy!

Here’s a (fairly lengthy) slide show of our day. So, so lovely!

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I am now on my way to CVS for a box of Benadryl. Because as gorgeous as it was, spending a day in a pollen-soaked tree-land was not the best choice for my allergies.

8 thoughts on “In My Own Backyard

  1. Mom April 6, 2012 / 8:33 pm

    BEAUTIFUL slide show!! A place I’d like to go 🙂 Can’t quite imagine the boys being entertained there all day, but glad they were for you & Jen’s sake. ENJOY your evening Auntie Extrodinare 😊

  2. Wanderlustress April 6, 2012 / 9:19 pm

    Thanks for giving me an idea for this weekend. I would have never thought of it!

  3. Common loon April 6, 2012 / 10:33 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Azaleas! Dogwoods (especially the pink ones)! Cousins! Beautiful pictures!!!

  4. Mom April 7, 2012 / 8:58 am

    Sarah, I have looked at these pictures again and again & they are clearly some of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen. FANTASTIC and, once again, thanks so very much for the time it takes to share your talent ❤❤❤

  5. Fran April 7, 2012 / 2:38 pm

    Sarah, your backyard has always beckoned .. even more so now. If you ever want house sitters, please give me and Dave a shout. Handsome young lad and cute little boy that tagged along, too.

  6. maryann April 7, 2012 / 3:18 pm

    Sarah, I enjoyed this so much! The pictures are outstanding and made even better by your commentary. The only thing missing was a picture of you near the dogwoods. Next time, OK?

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