US National Arboretum


A Classical Chinese Garden
at the
US National Arboretum

image of artist rendering of site plan

The U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture research and education facility for ornamental trees, shrubs, and floral plants. It is a national center that welcomes visitors in a stimulating and aesthetically pleasing environment. Visitors can explore the vast 446-acre landscape throughout all seasons.

The USNA is home to a series of world-class display gardens and collections including Asian Collections, Azalea Collections, the National Herb Garden, and the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. The next major addition to the USNA will be a Classical Chinese Garden. [Check out the story of the signing of the agreement here]. The Classical Chinese Garden is an original design developed by a joint team of designers from the Peopleís Republic of China and the United States. This 12-acre garden brings a unique cultural experience to the USNA that will provide an in-depth exploration of the elements that create a Chinese garden. Contributions to the Classical Chinese Garden at the USNA are tax-deductible.

Picture of chinese garden structures
Chinaís rich flora and long history of garden development has had a profound influence on horticulture and garden design throughout the world. Chinese classical gardens represent a harmonious blending of man and nature. The careful balance and blending of man-made structures, stones and rockeries, plants, water, and art results in a beautiful place for people to enjoy, learn, and rest. The Classical Chinese Garden at the U. S. National Arboretum will be the finest example of a classical Chinese garden in the United States due to several factors. It will be an originally designed garden located in an idyllic setting just two miles from the Capitol of the United States. This garden takes the best features of several well known gardens in the famous Chinese garden cities of Zhangzhou, Shuzhou, and Hangzhou and incorporates them in an original design.

The garden will provide an opportunity for visitors, nationally and internationally, to see and experience a true classical Chinese garden and learn about the culture of China. This will be a setting for people to learn about Chinese culture and its traditional arts and crafts of China. It will be a key location for important meetings and special events for high-ranking officials, the business community, and organizations. At the same time, it will be used to support the Arboretumís research programs in the development of new and improved ornamental and floral plants.

Picture of site plan draft
The Classical Chinese Garden at the
U.S. National Arboretum is a joint project between the governments of the United States and China. Professor Peng Zhenhua, well-known and respected garden designer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, heads the Chinese design team. The Chinese team is working closely with their American counterparts headed by U. S. National Arboretum Director, Dr. Thomas S. Elias. Together they are developing a concept for an outstanding Chinese garden that will be unmatched in the Western World. The U. S. will provide the land, site work, utilities, and plant materials for the project. The Chinese government will provide the structures, furnishing, and labor to construct the garden.

An 8-acre site located in the heart of the 446-acre USNA has been selected to provide a setting for the Chinese Garden that will never be compromised by surrounding high-rise buildings or other man-made structures. A mature pine forest provides an idea backdrop high on a sloping hillside for the upper segments of the Chinese garden. The lower part of this setting will feature a small lake and the main complex of buildings. The Chinese Garden is located adjacent to a mature dawn redwood grove and the Arboretumís extensive collection of Asian plants.

Picture of small pond and traditional Chinese building

Visitors will enjoy walking through the three main components of the Classical Chinese Garden. The first component will be on the right side after the entrance. This enclosed area will include a small pond and traditional Chinese buildings with Ming- and Ching-style hardwood furniture, calligraphy and painting scrolls on the walls. Adjacent to this building will be a traditional boat house located on a 1.3-acre lake.

Picture of two-story teahouse

The second component will be located further down the path on the left side. This enclosed area of the garden will include a two-story teahouse and an exhibit hall where visitors may taste authentic Chinese tea and enjoy skillful demonstrations of art work including painting and calligraphy. Rockeries representing each of the four seasons will also be included in this component.

Picture of bridge & paviliions over lake

Moving down the path, visitors will enter a traditional long corridor that will take them over the lake and into the third and largest component of the garden. This component houses a series of pavilions designed to highlight the natural beauty and magnificent views of the entire garden. Visitors will appreciate the large display of tree peonies at the Peony Pavilion.

The pathway will be lined with willows as visitors walk to the Fragrance Pavilion, where they can rest and enjoy viewing authentic Chinese goldfish. On their way to an astonishing view of the entire garden in the Whispering Pavilion, visitors will pass a traditional Chinese White Pagoda. From there visitors can follow the path to the Five Pavilions for another extraordinary view of the garden.

-- Click here for the story on the signing of the agreement.
-- Click here for an Introduction on Classical Chinese Gardens.

Arboretum bullet icon   Contributions to the Classical Chinese Garden at the USNA are tax-deductible.

We currently have two separate donation programs:

  • The first 100 individuals who donate $10,000 or more toward the construction of the Classical Chinese Garden will be designated Pioneer Donors. Click here for more information.
  • The Charter Donors Program has three tiers of donations ranging from $1,000 to $9,999.
    • Silver Charter Donors: Those who donate $1,000 to $2,499 to the project will receive special recognition in a USNA publication.
    • Gold Charter Donors: Those who donate $2,500 to $4,999 to the project will receive special recognition in a USNA publication and an invitation to a special event to be held in the Garden during the first year of operation.
    • Platinum Charter Donors: Those who donate $5,000 to $9,999 to the project will receive special recognition in a USNA publication and special invitations to three special events to be held in the Garden during the first year of operation.
    Names of all Charter Donors will be entered in a record book. The record book will be displayed with other historical materials in an exhibition area inside one of the main structures. Click here for more information.

-- To donate by making a secure payment online - click this button
-- Or, you may donate directly by contacting The National Arboretum Director:

Dr. Thomas S. Elias, Director*
U.S. National Arboretum
3501 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 245-4539
* Please specify that your donation is for the
"Classical Chinese Garden Trust Fund". 


Public Law 94-129, Title VIII Sec. 890
Any funds received or collected by the Secretary of Agriculture as a result of activities described in subsection A shall be retained in a special fund in the Treasury for the use and benefit of the National Arboretum as the Secretary of Agriculture considers appropriate.


Privacy Act Information: This information is provided pursuant to Public Law 93-579 (Privacy Act of 1974) for individuals completing Federal records and forms that solicit personal information. The authority is Title 5 of the U.S. Code, sections 1302, 3301, 3304, and 7201.

Purpose and Routine Uses: The information from this form is used solely to respond to you regarding the service you have requested. No other uses will be made of this information.

Effects of Non-Disclosure: Providing this information is voluntary, however, without it we may not be able to respond to you regarding the service you have requested.

Paperwork Reduction Act Statement: A Federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a current valid OMB control number.

Public Burden Statement: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to vary from two to four minutes with an average to three minutes per response, including time for reviewing instructions, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Department of Agriculture, Clearance Officer, OIRM, Room 404-W, Washington, D.C. 20250, and to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, D.C. 20503.

OMB 0518-0032-usna-1 (8/2006)

Links back to:

 Back to the Arboretum Home Page
Arboretum Information || Events & Education || Gardens & Horticulture || Research Activities
Support the Arboretum || New Plant Introductions || USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map || Comments
Search Our Site

Last Updated   May 22, 2007 4:48 PM
URL = ../../Gardens/collections/ClassicalChineseGarden_USNA.html

Please address any comments or questions regarding any portion of this web page by e-mail to the FNPRU site administrator