A tradition we have embraced over the last several years is a Christmas Day visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Not only is it one of the few local attractions open on Christmas, but it also has one of the best holiday displays around. Each year the entire East Gallery becomes a huge, walkthrough G gauge model train layout built into a landscape adorned with structures all made of plant materials.
The display has a different theme every year. This year’s is called “Season’s Greetings: National Parks & Historic Places.” It honors both the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. The various sculptural elements in it represent 45 national parks and historic sites.
One of my favorites was the Grand Canyon display, which includes the historic train depot and Bright Angel Lodge (at the top in the photo below), both on the South Rim.
Don’t miss the West Gallery, where you will find a large Christmas tree decorated with national park ornaments and an amazing plant-material sculpture of Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, complete with a working Old Faithful Geyser! Be sure to walk behind Old Faithful Inn, where you can look into its soaring atrium.
The Garden Court between the two galleries displays models of landmark buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C., also made from plant materials. This display has become an annual tradition. It includes sculptures depicting monuments on the National Mall, the U.S. Capitol, White House, Smithsonian Castle, American Indian Museum, and more, all surrounded by more than 30 varieties of poinsettias.
“Season’s Greetings: National Parks & Historic Places” is on display through January 2.
David Romanowski, 2016