50 Shades of Pink – Azalea Bloom at the Arboretum in Washington DC

Photo Essay

Even though this is my fourth time to Washington DC, I had never heard of the Arboretum in Washington DC. But when I saw our bartender’s eyes sparkle with so much passion, when he told us about this place, I knew I had to check it out. And boy, I was not disappointed. Let me take you away on a little tour of these beautiful gardens in the middle of Washington DC. 

Bonsai Exhibit 

The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum has one of the largest Bonsai collections in North America and is currently showing a selection of those beautiful miniature trees at the Arboretum in Washington DC. The tradition of Bonsai cultivation is deeply rooted in Asian culture is so much more than just tiny trees. Each twig is clipped, tied and bent to support the vision of the artist – a vision that he might never see completed – as some of the bonsai are several hundred years old. Bonsai are full of symbolism and meaning, historic references and reverence for nature. 

Arboretum in Washington DC - Bonsai Exhibit

Arboretum in Washington DC Bonsai Exhibit

Arboretum Washington DC Bonsai Exhibition


Capitol Columns

Another pretty cool place to check out at the Arboretum in Washington DC are the Capitol Columns. When the Capitol Building was redone, they exchanged some of the columns and decided to put the old and unused Capitol Columns into the Arboretum as an art exhibit. It reminded me a lot of the ruins in Rome and Pompeii mixed with a hint of Disneyland. Definitely a cool place to check out and take some cool pictures 🙂

Arboretum Washington DC Capitol Columns

Arboretum in Washington - Columns

Capitol Columns - National Arboretum Washington DC


Asian Valley

Our next destination was the Asian Valley, which was on the other side of the Arboretum. You can take your car and bike into the park, but since we had neither, we had to walk. I really enjoyed the walk though as it took us through some very beautiful landscapes, up and down some slopes and past fresh and green meadows. The landscape reminded me a lot of Germany and it was almost like a mini visit back home. And when you enter the Asian Valley at the top of the hill, it is like stepping into yet another world. Red Japanese Maple trees and many exotic plants, like this beautiful tree that had clusters of pink blossoms growing straight out of its trunk and branches. 

Arboretum Washington DC - Tree with purple Flowers coming out of stem and branches

Arboretum in Washington DC - Asian Valley Pink Flower

Asian Valley Arboretum in Washington DC


50 Shades of Pink 

Another highlight of the Arboretum was the Azalea Bloom. Since I missed the Washington Cherry Blossoms by just a few weeks, I was happy to still get my spring flower fix. The Azaleas were blooming in all shades, from white to orange, pink to deep maroon. Hidden in the shadows of the forest, it seemed like a painter had splattered his paint into the landscape. It was simply stunning. But take a look for yourself:


Arboretum Washington DC Azalea Bloom

Azalea Bloom at the Arboretum in Washington DC

Red Azaleas at the Arboretum in Washington DC

Azalea Bloom at Arboretum in Washington DC

National Arboretum in Washington DC Azaleas


Tips for your visit a the Arboretum in Washington DC

I highly recommend you check out the website of the Arboretum in Washington DC, as they have some great info about the different exhibits and landscapes, plants and even animals that is incredibly interesting. It gives you all the info to plan your visit. Here are some of the highlights and my recommendations for your visit:

  • Opening Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM every day, except December 25th (Visitor Center closes at 4.30)
  • Check out the Arboretum Website and see what is currently blooming.
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Bring at least some water, or even a sandwich or some snacks and have a picnic somewhere in the park. They have some snacks at the gift shop and sometimes a food truck, but most of the stuff I saw was “gas station type food” and didn’t look terribly appealing to me. Bring your own, if you want fresh and healthy food. 
  • The Arboretum is pet friendly (must be on a leash though). Some exhibits are off limits for your fur baby though, like the Bonsai exhibit. 
  • Take public transportation, as parking seemed to be a big hassle. You can take the Metro to Stadium Armory Station and then hop on the B2 bus toward Mt Rainier and get off at Bladensburg Rd and Rand Street. Walk back to R Street and turn left, then walk 2 blocks to the Park entrance. 
  • Bring your bike or rent one. Most of the trails are paved and we saw quite a few people on bikes and they had a lot of fun riding around on those trails. Be mindful of cars and pedestrians though. This isn’t a place to train for your next triathlon, but rather a ride with your family and enjoy kinda place. 

Have you been to the Arboretum in Washington DC?

What was your favorite part and what season did you go and explore? What did you enjoy the most? I personally loved the walk to the Asian Valley. It reminded me of my home in Germany, where I just step out my front door and I am in nature. There are open fields and meadows, pine forests and rolling hills. Strolling through the Arboretum reminded me of the beautiful Sunday afternoon walks I used to take with my family. I really hope to have another chance to visit the Arboretum again, maybe in a different season. 

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US National Arboretum in Washington DC - 50 Shades of Pink Photo Essay