WASHINGTON (AP) -- A miniature tropical rain forest towering 93 feet and a small house devoted entirely to orchids are centerpieces of the newly renovated U.S. Botanic Garden.
Located at the foot of Capitol Hill, the garden reopened Tuesday, four years after it was closed for the $33.5 million renovation.
It's one of the oldest botanic gardens on the continent, begun in 1842, half a century after George Washington and other founding fathers first urged its creation.
The outside of the conservatory, built in 1933, has been changed little, but the interior is all new, including a complex, computerized climate system. There also is a new south entrance, on Independence Avenue.
On the other side of Independence Avenue, the open Bartholdi Garden has remained open to the public during the renovation. French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, who designed the Statue of Liberty, also did the 30-foot fountain there with its three 11-foot sea nymphs standing in the middle.
Exhibits inside the conservatory cover more than an acre and include one garden of plants from the period of the dinosaurs and another devoted to medicinal plants.
All the planned work is not yet complete. On one side of the glass-enclosed rain forest will be an open courtyard with a "contemplative garden" inspired by a similar feature in Asian gardens, said Holly H. Shimizu, the garden's executive director. But it will be planted with specimens from the mid-Atlantic region.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.