The Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral is part of the larger Cathedral Close grounds which were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. Modeled after medieval walled gardens and in keeping with the Gothic style of the cathedral, Olmstead (who also designed the Capitol grounds) worked with the wife of the second Dean of the Cathedral to create a terraced space that meanders down a slope on the Cathedral’s south side. Stonework, boxwood hedges, perennial gardens, and a shade house are picturesque and different from other DC gardens. The gardens are free to visit, but there is an admission fee to enter the cathedral.

Outdoor room.

Garden in early spring.

Shade house.

Stone detail.

For anyone who wants to get away from tourists, the Franciscan Monastery Gardens (in a suburban neighborhood on a side street) is way off the tourist path. An active monastery, the gardens are adjacent to an impressive Byzantine-inspired church and are entered through a colonnade surrounded by roses and annual plantings. Built into a hillside, the gardens are lush and offer a counterpoint to the massive architecture above it. There is a manmade grotto, annual displays, a religious sculpture, and a woodland walk. The gardens are free to visit.

Lush Franciscan Monastery Gardens.

Franciscan Monastery.

This article is part of the Garden Destination: Washington, DC article.

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