top of page

Project History

The National China Garden is an enduring symbol of goodwill between China and the United States and offers a unique platform for strong U.S.-China Relations, people to people exchanges, and the celebration of Chinese culture. The vision for a Chinese cultural center grew out of the 2004 agreement between the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of People's Republic of China and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to build a classical Chinese Garden in Washington, DC. China's rich flora and long history of garden development has had a profound influence on horticulture and garden design throughout the world.



With the support from both Chinese and American governments and corporations, January 5th, 2021, is the NCGF's 10th anniversary since the Foundation was established in 2011.


The NCGF announced its new board directors and its Executive Advisory Committee members.  Guiding the efforts to advance the project are members of the newly elected board members, including President Donglei Ji; Chairman Samuel T. Mok; Co-Chairman and Vice President John Gerber; Secretary and Assistant Treasurer Tiffany M. Atwell; Treasurer and Spokesman Steven Drake. In addition to board members, the Executive Advisory Committee including Florence Fang, Yuman Li, Jim Travis, Peter V. Stanton, and Alfred D. Wilhelm, Jr.  


The National China Garden design project is near 100% completed. The Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) expects to sign off on the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) permit as soon as ARS/USDA approves all the drawings and specifications.


Page Southerland Page, L.L.P (now Page/Think), the National China Garden design team held a very successful meeting under the lead of Dr. Simon Liu from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) with Mr. John Gerber, Chairman of Design and Architecture of the NCGF focusing on the design-related issues.


A year-end public support campaign was successfully held and welcomed 100 guests from various government agencies. Minister Xu from the Chinese Embassy delivered one of the keynote speeches, and the Chinese Embassy published the event article on the official Embassy website.


In February 2018, the Foundation Board of Directors adopted a plan to help achieve the maintenance endowment's fundraising goals.


President Samuel T. Mok and the NCGF’ Design & Architecture Committee John Gerber visited China and took the opportunity to promote the National China Garden project during their trip.


The Foundation and the China Garden project were introduced at the Asian American Government Executive Network annual reception.


A Chinese delegation with the members from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China and the International Center for Bamboo and Rattan, China, visited Washington, D.C for meetings with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discuss the garden project and had a tour of the garden site, the construction lay-down areas and construction access route to the site at the U.S. National Arboretum in April.


The NCGF has been approved to be listed as one of the hundreds of charities participating in the 2017 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) in the National Capital Area.


The NCGF also participated in the "Giving Tuesday" program, a global, online nonprofit day of giving program in November


The NCGF announced its new slate of Directors and members in March.  The newly elected board members including President Samuel T. Mok, Vice President Jeanne Connelly, Treasurer Rita Yi Shan, Secretary Peter V. Stanton, and Member-at-Large Clay Hickson.


Chinese and American officials broke ground on the China Garden in the U.S. National Arboretum on October 28th, 2016, signaling the start of construction on a much-anticipated local tourist attraction in the national capital area.


The Foundation and U.S. design team welcomed members of a Chinese side delegation led by Dr. Fei Benhua in June 2015 for the 10th Sino-U.S. Joint Working Meeting and a Joint Design Team Meeting with the new director of the National Arboretum, Dr. Richard Olsen. The Foundation was delighted to learn that the garden project will be supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, the Chinese Embassy, and all of the Consulates in the help with the fundraising.


The Foundation has secured the first $5 million to complete design and construction planning from a domestic Chinese enterprise, Yangzhou Yingcheng Group Ltd. It also secured contributions from three major US-based multinational corporations (Coca Cola, DuPont, Monsanto).


The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts confirms its official approval of the National China Garden concept design. 


With the support of US Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack the National China Garden Foundation forms the China Garden Honorary Committee, a group of current and former appointed and elected US and Chinese officials, trade and industry leaders, who endorse and promote the value and importance of the garden project.


National China Garden is affirmed as a priority initiative for enhancing bilateral relations in the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue outcomes.

National China Garden Foundation engages the US architectural and engineering team led by architectural firm Page Southerland Page, now Page/Think to realize the plan for the China Garden originally designed by a Chinese landscape design team.

The Chinese side design team and partners and US side design team and partners in the project work together to complete the 15% design feasibility phase of work on the China Garden project.


US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and China's Ambassador to the United States Zhang Yesui sign a Memorandum of Understanding to construct China Garden in the U.S. National Arboretum.

National China Garden Foundation is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation in the District of Columbia to lead the fundraising and work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to construct, maintain and provide cultural programming for the China Garden.


U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission approve the master plan for the China Garden at the Arboretum.


US Farm Bill becomes law, giving the US Secretary of Agriculture authority to build the China Garden on 12-acres of undeveloped land in the U.S. National Arboretum and to raise private funds for the garden construction and maintenance.


The 2004 joint government agreement expires and both countries agree to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding between the National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People's Republic of China and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and to continue cooperation until completion of the China Garden.


China Garden site dedication is held at the U.S. National Arboretum with the Secretary of Agriculture, the Chinese Ambassador, and the President of the Chinese Academy of Forestry participating in the ceremonies.


US and Chinese design teams finalize the garden design plans and site analyses are conducted.


Chinese and American design teams hold working sessions to discuss concepts and establish subcommittees for the China Garden project.

Ann M. Veneman, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Yang Jiechi, sign a formal agreement to cooperatively construct the China Garden.


Madam Jiang Zehui, President of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, visits the proposed site of the China Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum.

Madam Jiang and then U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, Joseph Jen, sign the Letter of Intent to establish a China Garden joint working group.

To learn more, please read the complete history of the project.

bottom of page