Stewards to the Garden & Grounds of the Cathedral Since 1916

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Many Washingtonians who are familiar with Washington National Cathedral may not know about its secret garden—the Bishop’s Garden. The All Hallows Guild garden docent program brings the volunteer into the beauty of the Garden and offers an excellent opportunity to learn about plants and then share that information with others.

Becoming a docent means gaining knowledge, enjoying great camaraderie with interesting new friends, and most of all, finishing each tour with a terrific sense of accomplishment.


The Bishop’s Garden is historic, incorporating aspects of a 14th century garden, and was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. until 1928, and after that by Florence Brown Bratenahl, founder of All Hallows Guild. The three-acre Garden includes two perennial borders, three herb gardens, including a 9th century monastic garden, and an extensive rose garden in bloom from May to November.

Garden tours are led by All Hallows Guild docents from April 1 through October 31. Group tours reserve ahead and may be able to be combined with a catered Tea in the Tower on certain dates. or by calling the reservationist at: 202 537-8993


The Bishop’s Garden docent training begins in March or April, depending upon the weather.

Prospective docents learn about these aspects in three ways: first, by attending walk-a-rounds with an experienced docent.

  • A list of plants is provided to each trainee, including both botanical and common names. The list is a must when leading a tour group, not only when the new docent leads her/his first tours, but continually. It is not necessary to memorize botanical names, since the list of plants serves as a resource for this information.
  • There are four aspects to the Garden Tours:
    • Plants, as outlined above
    • Garden history
    • Architectural elements and sculpture.
    • All Hallows Guild history
  • Prospective docents learn about these aspects in three ways: first, by attending walk-a-rounds; second, by reading our garden information pamphlets and booklets; and third, by reading Plaques, Artifacts, Statues and Fountains in the Bishop’s Garden and Elsewhere on the Cathedral Close, which is also available in the Herb Cottage or on the website. Any of the documents can be copied for individual use.
  • Training schedule
    • Prospective docents make individual decisions about when they are ready to lead a tour. Three months of walk-a-rounds and observation of tours led by other docents, combined with use of the plant list and other material (outlined above) will prepare the docent to begin leading tours.

For self-guided tour booklet, click here

Our docent program provides "Blooming Notes" seasonally for the Garden, click here to read this summer's offerings.

If you are interested in becoming a garden docent, please call the Garden info line at: 202 537-2304, and leave a message or apply as a volunteer through the AHG website, click here