Friday, August 21, 2009

Brookside Gardens - how many different types of inspiration are there?

As a kid, I always enjoyed Brookside Gardens, in nearby Silver Spring, Maryland. I always looked forward to crossing the stone paths over various ponds, and walking for what feels (at least to a kid on a hot summer day) for miles and miles to the ultimate destination - the Japanese Tea House - a peaceful, natural structure surrounded by great boulders and weeping trees and shrubs of all sorts, and overhanging a large pond filled with koi when I was a child, and turtles today. I'm not sure if the reminiscent feeling is due to the summer days I spent there as a child, but being there transports you to another place and time. Just past the Japanese Tea House, is a fairly new labyrinth worth the long winding race walk to reach the end to jump up and down and cheer- unless of course, you're using the labyrinth for it's intended purpose - meditation. Here is a beautiful spot with a beautiful message along the way to the Japanese Tea House.

As an adult, I appreciate the new Visitor's Center where I attended a Horticulture Symposium with my friend Grace last year. It was great fun to have a full day of inspiration and be in an auditorium filled with other gardening fanatics from every neighboring state. Today, I appreciated that the Visitor's Center is also at the midway point so my heat-exhausted kids could smile again upon entering the air-conditioned building. After getting water and using the bathroom, we exit again to play and explore in the also fairly new, and very manageable sized Children's Garden.

As a parent, I was a damn good sport for taking my kids to the annual Wings of Fancy butterfly show. Here's a little secret - I'm deathly afraid of butterflies. Though some may see these creatures as beautiful and delicate wonders of nature, I see them as enormous winged insects that can't see where they're going. Often, they dive bomb towards my face, just to veer away at the last moment. Usually at this Wings of Fancy show, they land on me. Last year, to both freak me out and embarrass me publicly, a butterfly sat right on my backside between the butt cheeks for the entire length of our visit. Having learned that butterflies are attracted to bold colors (I wore green pants last year), I dressed in gray capris and a dark gray tank top today. Did that bring any reprieve? At one point, I had a butterfly on my head, one on my shoulder, and had big time heebie jeebies, all the while with smile on face, "Look, Lyric! Aren't they beautiful" through clenched teeth, tight fists, and goosebumps all over. In fact, just seeing the extent of the goosebumps today gave me goosebumps. This is why I feel that as a parent, I'm a damn good sport.

Can you spot the butterfly in the photo below? As I've mentioned before, nature is weird.

As a conservationist obsessed with saving water, I was in awe at this huge structure below, just imagine how much rain you could capture with this baby! hhhhaaaaawwwww... I also loved the bright green plants arranged like stepping stones - or at least that's how it looked to me.

As a gardener with about eight new fall gardening catalogs to peruse, I was inspired by the late summer perennials on display - today I fell in love with gomphrena "strawberry fields". I must have it.

As a new garden blogger eager to share, I can't explain why I didn't take any pictures of the many gorgeous plant and flower combinations, or the beautiful and serene landscaping. My only thought is that maybe since a large garden is so full of different types of inspiration, the brain can only register so much. Each time I visit, I think, "I really have to come here more often", and perhaps when I do next, the Fragrance Garden will pique my interest, or maybe the native trees, or perhaps the woodland plantings, or the garden structures, or the use of ornamental grasses, or the tropicals, or the spring bulbs, or the plaque inscriptions, or the autumn interest, or the... You know what I'm talkin' about.


  1. Wendy, it sure does look hot. Kudos to you for confronting those butterflies for your kids' sake.
    The turtles in the photo look very zen - almost as though someone had placed them in those positions.

  2. So beautiful! I'm jealous - we have nothing like that here.

    Good for you for 'sucking it up' for the butterflies. I'm with you - anything that creeps and crawls and flies is usually too much for me to bear, no matter how pretty!

  3. Sounds like a fun time. Love the turtles. You are very brave to let those scary butterrlies land on you! It is amazing what we will do for our kids!

  4. Wendy
    I'm always up for a garden visit, if you'll let me tag along.
    Maryland is on my to-do list....
    We're harvesting tons of Japanese Black Trifele tomatoes from my husband's community garden.
    Tomorrow is a veggie exchange in town, where I'm hoping to do some trading. Have a great weekend, Alice
    aka Bay Area Tendrils

  5. Deathly afraid of butterflies! Girl, we gotta get you into Actually, I'm that way with snakes...ucky-uck! I've actually been to Brookside Gardens and love the Japanese garden, too!

  6. Visiting the same place throughout the years..., and how the favorite spot seems to change.. and i am sure it will change again as we inch the way towards being a grandma or grandpa... But the place, the garden, the route dont change much.

    I spot the legs, but cant see the wings. Whats the leaf doing in there?... haha. What a camouflage.

  7. ok, if you really stop to see things my way, you can probably understand how those butterflies are really creepy - long straw tongues, yuck.

    Alice - let me know if you decide to pay a visit!

    Bangchik - I did notice how much things had changed. At one point several years ago, I remember thinking how blah it was, but I guess you get new people, new ideas, try things out, fresh perspective, etc. Change is good -especially when it's balanced by a whole lot that stays the same as well.

  8. The 3 turtles in the first photo look like a family going out to have fun. So relaxing in the serenity of the surroundings, I guess. Butterflies always seek out objects of beauty. That's what you are to them.


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