Smithsonian's Ripley Garden

Normal spring in the Ripley Garden

I’m sorry to report that the inaugural news out of Washington, D.C. isn’t ALL good, at least in the gardening department.  Remember the “Best Little Garden in D.C. and the Plant Geek who Tends it?”  I didn’t think so, but it’s the Ripley Garden just off the National Mall.  Its gardener in charge, Janet Draper, wrote to tell me about – oops – major damage caused by enthusiastic crowds (and I’ll add – crowd control and security that let everyone down).  Just look where the poor garden is located – awfully close to the action.

Janet Draper

In happier times

Here’s some of Janet’s sad report.

“I was very thankful to learn before the event that the Ripley Garden would be safe since they had walled it off with 6’ fencing for security reasons…Due to excitement and massive crowds being forced down Independence
Ave (as early at 6:30 a.m. 7th street was blocked off!), people were desperate in their excitement to get to the Mall, so the fence protecting Ripley was breached (people first climbed it; then it was just moved out of the way).

“As far as I can determine, what must have happened is that people were flooding (coworkers describe people nearly running) into the garden and then they were blocked in by the fence at the other end, and until that
was removed, the crowds were backing up and people must have been frantically just trying to find someplace to stand and not get trampled. Needless to say, the garden took a major hit.  The gates remained down through the entire event so the garden was trampled both coming and going.”

The result? “Plants just disappeared!  It is as if they were freeze dried then they just turned to dust!” 

Smithsonian's Ripley Garden

A normal spring in Ripley Garden

But Janet’s a REAL GARDENER, and everyone here knows what that means – neither rains nor winds nor gate-crashing crowds can kill her spirit!  And she tells me her Smithsonian bosses are supportive and the garden WILL make a comeback!