Call for Participants

2019 Summer Exhibits at United States Botanic Garden

May 13, 2019 - October 14, 2019

The United States Botanic Garden (USBG) and the American Public Gardens Association (Association) are announcing a call for gardens to contribute to an exhibit that will be onsite at the USBG in summer 2019, including during the Association’s 2019 annual conference (“Thrive Together: Diversity Grows Gardens”). The exhibit will showcase the diversity and beauty of public gardens throughout North America. 

Gardens can submit proposals to be included in the following exhibit components:

  • Garden Display – one of 14 open area or raised beds on the USBG Conservatory terrace (numbers 1-14 on map). Each garden display would include signature plants and hardscape elements to provide visitors to Washington a deeper understanding of the plants, styles, origins, regional character, signature programs, and/or mission of your public garden. See entry details below and see map for bed layout as well as photographs of previous displays in this online folder.


  • Educational Vignette – one of 16 displays (educational or programmatic vignettes) in the Regional Garden, Rose Garden, Butterfly Garden, or Bartholdi Park (numbers 15-30). These spaces are smaller and designs could include signature plants and/or containers, sculpture or other props to provide visitors to Washington a deeper understanding of the regional character, signature programs, and/or mission of your public garden. See entry details below and see example photos of 2007 exhibit.


  • Photo/Design Documents Indoor Exhibit – A complimentary indoor exhibit that will display photos and designs of new gardens and recently renovated gardens. See entry details on page 4 and see example images from a recent art exhibit.


These are opportunities for your garden to have a visual and experiential impact on a national audience during the summer of 2019.  Proposals are due by close of business on July 27, 2018.





How to submit for the outdoor display exhibits:

Gardens are asked to submit for either of these two display opportunities:

1.    Garden Display: Open Spaces and Prebuilt Raised Beds:

This portion of the exhibit is mounted on the flagstone terrace surrounding the historic USBG Conservatory. Spaces numbered 2-5, 7- 9, and 11-12 on the map will be a raised bed approximately 14” in depth and 250 sq. ft. Unless other arrangements are made, the raised beds will be filled with typical loam garden soil. Spaces numbered 1, 6, 10, 13, and 14 will be left open to allow for additional creativity.

See map for bed layout as well as photographs of previous displays in this online folder.

Any paths into garden displays must meet ADA requirements. USBG will provide tables and seating along the Conservatory, but any additional seating you propose should be included in your design proposal.





2.    Educational Vignettes:

Located in the outdoor gardens off of the Conservatory terrace and in Bartholdi Park, there are smaller spaces for up to 16 educational displays or vignettes. These displays/vignettes could be containerized plantings, sculpture, or an educational display such as those shown in photographs from 2007 in the link below, which ranged from a piece of sculpture, to a few planted containers, to elaborate displays. See example photos of 2007 exhibit.

a. Conservatory outdoor gardens: The USBG has gardens located to the west of the Conservatory, including a mid-Atlantic native regional garden, a pollinator garden, a lawn terrace, a rose garden and a water feature dedicated to America’s First Ladies.

There are two spaces on the west of the Conservatory façade as well as eight additional areas shown on the map (15-23).

b. Bartholdi Park: USBG’s Bartholdi Park is a SITES Gold certified landscape that includes native plantings, rain gardens, a kitchen garden, and other sustainable features, all surrounding the historic Fountain of Light and Water. Bartholdi Park has space to accommodate eight educational vignettes (24-30).

The USBG is located on the National Mall just to the south and west of the U.S. Capitol. The exhibits will be available to the public seven days a week and are typically heavily visited from morning through sundown. The maintenance of the exhibits and raised beds will be the responsibility of USBG.

Additionally, if planned in advance, the USBG could schedule lectures or programs offered by your staff and your garden may request the use of the Conservatory for an evening event.


Exhibit Submission and Design Guidelines:

USBG and the Association are looking for proposals representing a diversity of designs, themes, geographic regions, and garden sizes. The overall concept is that a visitor to the exhibit will experience the geographic, thematic, and stylistic diversity of public gardens from across North America. 


Your proposal should include:  

  • A one-page description of the concept idea, type of display (raised bed, open space, or educational vignette) and your desired location number
  • A statement of purpose
  • A proposed design concept drawing
  • Text and graphics for identifying panels, including garden name, overview of mission, programs, regional character, and/or signature features. Main points / bullets only for this proposal submission. Final copy can be written after selections are made. (USBG will design and produce the signage, using copy and photos from the gardens.)
  • A list of the proposed plants, furniture, sculpture, objects, or other materials for exhibit
  • Any special considerations (e.g., water feature, need for electricity, etc.).
  • Whether alternative soil is needed in your requested raised bed
  • A maintenance plan and any unusual considerations for care
  • Commitment of at least one staff member to travel to Washington to oversee installation and execution of the design in late April or early May 2019
  • Coordination details for disassembly in early October 2019 when the exhibit concludes



We expect that most gardens will be able to fund their project, however, cost should not be a barrier to participation. If your institution would like to participate but is concerned about the cost, please  indicate this in your proposal. If you have budget questions as you develop your proposal, please contact Devin Dotson at

Location and Site Constraints

The United States Botanic Garden is located at 100 Maryland Avenue SW adjacent to and southwest of the United States Capitol. Please see location map and plan of the USBG Conservatory terrace and outdoor gardens including raised terrace beds and potential exhibit sites.


Please also consider the following in your design proposal:

  • Spring and summer temperatures in Washington, D.C. are variable with highs most summer days in the low 90s. Night temperatures often remain warm and humid with lows in the mid 70s.  








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  • Raised beds on the north and west sides of the terrace receive full sun all day and those on the east side of the terrace are shaded in late afternoon. Display locations in the outdoor gardens by the Conservatory and Bartholdi Park receive full sun for most of the day. 
  • Reflected heat from the terrace’s flagstone paving and Conservatory’s limestone façade should be taken into consideration for the raised beds.
  • All exhibit designs should take into consideration the risk of high winds and wind gusts during summer thunderstorms.
  • All plant material in raised beds should include legible plant labels.
  • The U.S. Botanic Garden is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (the Regional Garden, Rose Garden, and Butterfly Garden are open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day). The Conservatory terrace and Bartholdi Park are accessible to the public from sunrise to dusk.




How to enter the indoor Photography and Designs Exhibit






All submissions are due by close of business July 27, 2018.

Submissions and inquiries should be directed to Devin Dotson at or (202) 306-6743.