About Smithsonian Gardens

Our Mission: ENGAGE. INFORM. INSPIRE.

As a vital and vibrant part of the Smithsonian experience, we engage, people with plants and gardens, inform on the roles both play in our cultural and natural worlds, and inspire appreciation and stewardship.

Established in 1972 to manage the museum grounds, Smithsonian Gardens extends the Smithsonian’s museum experience in a public garden setting, inspiring visitors with exceptional displays and educating them about horticulture, plants, the natural and built environments, and artistic design.

group shot Grounds Cleanup brochure table Moving greenhouses Planting Clearing Snow preparing the orchid show

Grounds Management Operations

Grounds Management Operations is responsible for maintaining over 180 acres of grounds around the Smithsonian museums and other Smithsonian support centers in the Washington, D.C. area. Exhibition gardens surrounding the museums are designed to reflect the collections that are found inside. Exhibition gardens at the Smithsonian include the Enid A. Haupt Garden, the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, and the Pollinator Garden.

Greenhouse Nursery Operations

The Smithsonian Gardens greenhouse facility is the permanent home of Smithsonian Gardens’ Greenhouse Nursery Operations. It serves as the base of production and maintenance of plant material for the gardens and horticultural exhibits throughout the Smithsonian Institution. It houses the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, tropical plant specimens, and interior display plants, and also includes a greenhouse devoted to nectar plants used for the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History. READ MORE >

Horticulture Collections Management and Education

The Horticulture Collection Management and Education branch manages the artifact, archival, and living collections and develops educational programming for the Smithsonian Gardens. The Horticultural Artifact Collection includes antique and contemporary garden furniture and ornaments, seed boxes and seed packets, advertising cards, posy holders, floral frames, and other items related to the florist trade. The Archives of American Gardens collects, preserves, and provides access to resources that document the history of gardens in America. The living collections include the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection and the Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection. This branch also oversees the volunteer, internship, and fellowship programs sponsored by the Smithsonian Gardens as well as online engagement programs including the Community of Gardens.

Integrated Pest Management

Pest Management at the Smithsonian is based on a strategy called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. This strategy provides the greatest opportunities for the successful detection and management of pests regardless of the object of concern. At the Smithsonian, IPM programs have been developed and are being implemented for the museums and facilities, food service areas, greenhouse plants, and landscape and interior plants. Each of these areas has different needs in terms of monitoring, potential pest problems, and risks. These programs are scientifically based and evolve as new and improved control options and information becomes available.

Green Team

Smithsonian Green Team logoThe Smithsonian Gardens Green Team was created to keep sustainability at the forefront of Smithsonian Gardens operations and business practices by providing inspiration, research, and accountability in areas of impact on the natural environment.

Learn more about Smithsonian Gardens' sustainability endeavors here.

Interpretive Master Plan

Master Plan

Smithsonian Gardens Interpretive Master Plan 2019-2020

Brought together by our dedication to the Smithsonian Institution, we share the common purpose to enrich the Smithsonian experience through exceptional gardens, horticultural exhibits, collections, and education.

View the Full Plan (pdf)

Our Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

Smithsonian Gardens Strategic Plan FY 2017-2021

Brought together by our dedication to the Smithsonian Institution, we share the common purpose to enrich the Smithsonian experience through exceptional gardens, horticultural exhibits, collections, and education.

View the Full Plan (pdf)