Image via U.S. Botanic Garden

New Mediterranean Room Opens at United States Botanic Garden

A new room focusing on the plant culture and climate of the world’s five Mediterranean regions has opened at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, DC. According to a press release, the USBG’s new conservatory room is named after the climate Europe’s Mediterranean Basin and the four other locations that share this botanically-diverse climate (California, Chile, South Africa, and Australia). Mediterranean climates are known for their hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

As the press release notes, more than 10% of all the known plants in the world are found in Mediterranean areas. Ari Novy, the garden’s executive director, said this of the USBG’s new addition: “We are thrilled to showcase the amazing flora of Mediterranean regions, which are some of the most diverse habitats in the world. Beyond their ecological value, the Mediterranean regions have given us some of nature’s most enjoyable bounty, including olives, figs, and wine. The fruits of the Mediterranean have truly enhanced both our health and cuisines.”

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The new conservatory room is named after Europe’s Mediterranean Basin and the four other locations that share this botanically-diverse climate: California, Chile, South Africa, and Australia.

Accordingly, the new Conservatory room features plants typically cultivated in Mediterranean climates, including olive, lemon, fig, pomegranate, lavender, rosemary, mandarin orange, bougainvillea, Chilean wine palm, wine grapes, wheat, and other cultivars aimed at shedding light on the vital role that these regions play in producing the food crops necessary to nourish the growing global population. (Many of these crops are food staples, and most mediterranean crops have positive health associations– like olives, which are great for skin health and which have been associated with longer life spans, lower average body weights, a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer, as well as debilitating neurological illnesses like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.)

The new conservatory room will feature a 53-foot tiled watercolor mural of plants, landscapes, and seascapes from the Mediterranean, as well as a fountain designed evoke the structure of a traditional Mediterranean garden. Soon, the USBG will announce a series of programs related to food, agriculture, conservation, and botany of this special version of the world.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is open to the public, free of charge, every day of the year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Conservatory where the new Mediterranean room is located is at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, on the southwest side of the U.S. Capitol. Find more information here

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