Agency history, 1972-

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  • Buckler, James R
  • Meehan, Kathryn
  • Faust, Barbara
  • Schneider, Jeffrey
  • Columbus, Joy
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Physical Plant Horticulture Services Division
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Plant Services Horticultural Services Division
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Facilities Management and Reliability Horticulture Services Division
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Facilities Management Horticulture Services Division
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of Museum Programs Office of Horticulture
  • American Alliance of Museums
  • Archives of American Gardens


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Smithsonian Gardens, About Us,, accessed June 10, 2022
  • Smithsonian Year, 1974, page 256
  • Smithsonian Year, 1975, page 340
  • Smithsonian Staff Directory, 1973-1993
  • Accession 94-035: Office of the Physical Plant, Horticulture Services Division, Office of the Director, Records, 1972-1990
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian History, Governance and Organization, Smithsonian Museums, Smithsonian Gardens,, accessed June 13, 2022
  • The Office of Plant Services was established in November 1973, following the restructuring of the former Buildings Management Department. Within the Office of Plant Services, there was created the Horticultural Services Division. James R. Buckler was appointed Chief of the Division in 1973, having already served as horticulturalist in the Landscaping and Grounds Section within the Building Services Division of the Buildings Management Department since July 1972. In 1974 the Division undertook a number of Bicentennial projects including the design of a Victorian Garden for the South Yard, design for planting in the Arts and Industries Conservatory, a State flower and State tree project, and a nursery-greenhouse operation. A National Horticultural Advisory Committee of prominent horticulturalists and botanical garden and arboretum directors was established in January 1974 to assist in long-range programming, planning, and evaluation of future horticultural operations of the Smithsonian.
  • In February of 1976, the Horticultural Services Division was renamed the Office of Horticulture within the Office of Museum Programs. In or around 1992, the Office of Horticulture became the Horticulture Services Division within the Office of Physical Plant. In or around 2002, the Horticulture Services Division was placed under the Office of Facilities Management which itself came to be known as the Office of Facilities Mangement and Reliability. In 2010, the office was renamed Smithsonian Gardens, in recognition of the function gardens play in the visitor experience. At the time, the gardens of the Smithsonian received 30 million visitors a year, making them some of the most highly visited public gardens in the world. Serving as living classrooms and urban sanctuaries, they provide a memorable, relaxing, and safe destination for visitors, with interpretation that educates the public and supports the museums they surround. All the gardens have sustainable programs to attract native wildlife, from insects to local and migrating birds, to mammals. The American Alliance of Museums accredited Smithsonian Gardens as a museum in 2013, reflecting their role as an integral part of the Smithsonian's research, display, and educational programs.
  • The Smithsonian Gardens is responsible for a variety of specialized gardens, including the Enid A. Haupt Garden. The Freer Gallery of Art has a courtyard garden in the center of the building, inviting relaxation and contemplation. The Pollinator Garden on the east side of the National Museum of Natural History displays a variety of plants attractive to pollinators, providing food and shelter. The nearby Urban Bird Habitat provides the essentials to attract and sustain bird life. Both contain educational displays about how to do this yourself at home. The Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden between the east door of the Castle and Mall door of the Arts and Industries Building displays roses along with perennials, annuals, herbs and evergreens. The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden, between the Arts and Industries Building and Hirshhorn Museum plaza, displays hundreds of varieties of annual and perennial plants, trees and shrubs. The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is a landscaped open-air gallery that enhances the many sculptures on display in the sunken garden and the museum's plaza with an array of plants that dull noise and attract birds, insects, and other natural life.
  • The 180 acres of gardens are just one part of the Smithsonian Gardens work. The Gardens maintains a greenhouse facility and provides plants from the gardens and horticultural exhibits throughout the Smithsonian and houses the Smithsonian Gardens Orchid Collection, with over 8,000 orchids. Integrated Pest Management manages pests and their risks factors for all of the Smithsonian's facilities. Scientifically based, these programs monitor, detect, and manage potential pest problems and risks. The Gardens is also responsible for the Garden Furnishings and Horticultural Artifacts Collection which is composed of approximately 1,300 objects, from garden furnishings including benches and urns to artifacts related to the horticulture trade, gardening, decorative arts, and interior home accessories. Also part of the Gardens is the Archives of American Gardens, which collects, preserves, and provides access to resources that document the history of gardens in the United States.
  • Heads of the office include: James R. Buckler, Chief, then Director, 1973-1988; Kathryn Meehan, Acting Director, 1990-1992; Nancy J. Bechtol, Chief, then Assistant Director, 1993-2002; Barbara Faust, Associate Director, 2004-2013, Director, 2014-2019; Jeffrey Schneider, Acting Director, 2019-2020; and Joy Columbus, Director, 2020- .
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of" above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1972
  • 1972-


  • Landscape gardening
  • Landscape architecture
  • Horticulture
  • Education
  • Outdoor furniture
  • Greenhouses
  • Integrated control
  • Horticultural exhibitions
  • Orchids
  • Gardens
  • Pests
  • Furnishings
  • Gardens--Educational aspects
  • Pests--Integrated control
  • Garden ornaments and furniture


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00447

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