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The Floral Library

The Floral Library
Washington, DC

One of my favorite parts about visiting the cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin is not those famous flowering trees, but the chance to stop by the always-impressive Floral Library. This small garden packs a major punch every spring when 10,000 tulips burst on the scene and give the cherries a little competition with their wild colors and showy petals. This garden is one that you stumble upon accidentally when visiting the cherry blossoms or seen as a blur of color through a car window passing on Independence Avenue. Although the garden is also planted with annuals in the summer and chrysanthemums in the fall, the garden is most famous for its tulips and often referred to as the Tulip Library. 

Originally planted in 1969 as part of Lady Bird Johnson’s Capital Beautification Project, the Floral Library is a large oval-shaped garden consisting of 93 flower beds with grassy paths crossing in-between. The garden was based around the concept of putting “masses of flowers where masses pass,” making the grounds of DC more appealing and engaging. The library theme is explained by the use of a numbered catalog and map which lists each of the unique varieties of flowers in each bed for easy identification. In order to achieve the impressive sight of hundreds of tulips in beautiful uniformity, new bulbs are flown in from the Netherlands each year to insure similar heights and blooming time. 

Final Rating: I will admit that I have only ever visited the Floral Library in the spring, and have often referred to it as the Tulip Library myself, but it must be the most popular time of year. It is a delight to see the Floral Library and all of the grassy paths between flower beds filled with spillover tourists from the cherry blossoms. There are always multiple ladies posing for the same picture, legs folded with head slightly askew, a colorful burst of tulips as a backdrop. Seeing the garden so thoroughly populated and enjoyed harkens back to Lady Bird Johnson’s insistence that people directly benefit from the enjoyment of nature. THREE BLOOM RATING

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Enid A. Haupt Garden

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