If you come to DC any time over the next two years, I recommend visiting this magical stickwork piece called “Oh Say Can You See” by Patrick Dougherty, that just opened at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

On the USBG website it’s described as 40 ft X 25 ft and 14 ft high, made of “locally harvested Norway maple, cherry, and elm, plus purchased willow from Fredonia, NY.”

Then on this page we learn that the “locally harvested” plants are “saplings of invasive plants from area locations – Norway maple from the American Horticultural Society’s River Farm and Siberian elm and hybrids of non-native cherry from the U.S. National Arboretum.”

Photo of Dougherty creating this work, by US Botanic Garden.

Dougherty commented that:

Trying to imagine a work for the city congestion of Washington DC, I produced a wild scribble and characterized it as “urban scrawl.”  I transferred this “chicken scratch” drawing to graph paper and plotted the sketch in the grassy lawn on the right side of the Garden’s glass conservatory.   From this footprint, I hoped to conjure a zany three-dimensional object that viewers could explore.

The Garden boasts more than a million visitors a year, and this sculpture sits in the middle of the hubbub as visitors stream from one national attraction to another.

Oh, it’s a “zany three-dimensional object that viewers could explore” all right, something I hope this short video conveys.

There’s a cool video of kids running in and out of the piece, here on the USBG’s Facebook page.


Above, a cool time-lapse from the social-media-savvy folks at the USBG shows how the stick house was built.

I love it up-close.

This piece of Dougherty’s is SO cool and SO much fun, it’s sure to be a win for the USBG, and for visitors of all ages.