• The National China Garden will be transformed into a $100 million landmark.

The National China Garden will be transformed into a $100 million landmark. (Photo : Twitter)

The U.S. National Arboretum will be transformed into the most ambitious Chinese garden ever built in the western hemisphere. The transformation is expected to be complete 30 months from now.

The garden will be fitted with all the elements of a Chinese garden--a landscape filled with moon gate entrances, two dozen handcrafted pavilions and carved wooden screens. Temples surrounding a grand central lake are also included in the design.

Like Us on Facebook

The backers of the National China Garden aim to make it a landmark in Washington, D.C., and consider it as a gift of goodwill. The Chinese government will be footing the bill for the entire construction.

Tom Elias, a former arboretum director and early proponent of the project, said, "The Japanese gave a few thousand trees and look at all the publicity."

He added, "The Chinese don't have anything in Washington to put to use. The panda program at the National Zoo is big PR, but they can't have many functions in and around a panda cage."

"This Chinese garden is where they could hang their cultural hat," he said.

The arboretum in Northeast Washington has an area of 446 acres and attracts half a million visitors a year. The number is seen to increase by 40 percent.

Arboretum director Richard Olsen said, "I truly believe this garden, if it's done right and properly endowed, will be a terrific asset."

Olsen added that the long-awaited groundbreaking will commence in the summer if there will be no breakdown in U.S.-China relations. The deal with the contractor is close to conclusion.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said, "The new garden will deepen the American people's understanding of Chinese garden culture, and provide research opportunities to study Chinese plants and flowers. Upon completion, this will be the finest Chinese garden outside of China."