Groundbreaking for China Garden at the US National Arboretum
American and Chinese officials gathered Friday afternoon at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington to break ground for the construction of the China Garden that the Chinese government is constructing at the site.
“Throughout history, a Chinese garden has been an essence of a commitment to beauty and excellence,” Agriculture Undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics Catherine Woteki said at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The garden “will be a tribute to U.S.-Chinese relations in the nation’s capital and a symbol of friendship,” Woteki added.
The National Arboretum is a division of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, and the garden will also be a living classroom, providing research opportunities, a location for cultural programming and a destination for tourists, she said.
Catherine Novelli, undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment at the State Department, noted at the ceremony that the garden “symbolizes the harmony that should exist between mankind and nature.”
The Chinese government will pay for the construction of the garden, a change from the plan when Congress authorized construction of the garden in the 2008 farm bill. The legislation called for the U.S. side to be responsible for the underground construction and ongoing maintenance and the Chinese side to be responsible for aboveground planning and design, construction and interior displays. A private U.S. China Garden Foundation chaired by then-American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman was set up to raise money for the construction, but in 2014 the two sides agreed that the Chinese government would pay for the underground and above-ground construction. The full cost of the 12-acre garden has not been released.