In 1842, the Navy’s Wilkes Expedition returned from exploring Fiji and South America, showering Congress with a cornucopia of exotic flora. The present conservatory was erected in 1930 and recently modernized with state-of-the-art climate controls and a coconut-level catwalk around the central rainforest. The conservatory displays 4,000 plants, including endangered species. Themed displays feature the desert and the oasis, plant adaptations and the primeval garden. The orchid collection is a particular delight. Across Independence Avenue, Bartholdi Park displays plants thriving in Washington’s climate, ranged around an alluring fountain created by Bartholdi, sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. The new National Garden aims to be a showcase for "unusual, useful, and ornamental plants that grow well in the mid-Atlantic region."