The United States National Arboretum is famous for its flowers, trees and plants. The Arboretum is just a short drive from the center of Washington, D.C. Yet visitors often feel like they are far from the busy city.
Sam Augusta brought his one-year-old son to play by the water.
SAM AUGUSTA: We like to come and take a look at the fish, and the lotus flowers and a lot of the plants. Hes never seen the fish up close like this before.
Joan Love often visits the Arboretum. She says she knows about almost every plant here.
JOAN LOVE: I mean theres so much to see here and so much to do here. But one thing is, you dont even know youre in Washington, D.C. Youre just here in all this wonderfulness.
The Arboretum also is home to what were once pieces of the United States Capitol. These sandstone columns formerly stood at the eastern entrance to the building. They were given to the Arboretum when the Capitol was repaired in 1958.
Thomas Elias served as director of the Arboretum for 16 years.
THOMAS ELIAS: The National Arboretum was established in 1927 by an act of Congress as a research and educational facility, devoted to studying plants, and disseminating information to the American public.
Each year, the Arboretum sends scientists to collect plants from around the world. Those plants are brought back to Washington and planted. Some are used to study ways to grow plants with resistance to insects or disease.
The Arboretum also has an area with plants that can be used to make fuels.
THOMAS ELIAS: Its to demonstrate to people and show people what the plants that can be used to generate bio-fuel or ethanol as a substitute for fuel. So we selected 21 different plants that can be used in some way to generate fuel.
The bio-fuel display has plants like alfalfa, sunflowers and soybeans. The Arboretum has many areas of interest. But what most visitors say they like best is the calm and natural beauty. Here, they feel far from Washington and the world of politics. Im Faith Lapidus.