Friday, July 30, 2010

Brookside Gardens and more on the storm...

View from the Japanese Tea House

A few weeks ago, we had an unusually mild summer day, perfect for an impromptu visit to one of my favorite places, Brookside Gardens. I did not plan to take photos, but there were too many pretty scenes to leave unphotographed.

When my 5 year old saw the border in the photo above, she exclaimed, "Mom!! Sister's pie!!!", recalling the rhubarb pie we baked for her older sister's birthday last year. Have you ever seen an edible border like this??!!

Funny story about the photo above. When I saw this lovey-dovey couple, hand in hand, chatting away, I remembered RoseBelle's post about an older couple which reminded her of a Debeers commercial. I watched this couple in adoration, admiring how they had so much to talk about after what appeared to be a good lifetime together. They sat on this bench near us and when we finished with our little rest and walked past them, the woman was on the phone. I overheard her talking about how she and her dad were taking a nice walk at Brookside Gardens!

Do you remember the sniper shootings maybe...7-8 years ago that happened in the DC area? They were targeting innocent people pumping gas or cleaning cars at gas stations? That was right in my neighborhood. I was teaching at the time (the uncle of one of our students was shot and killed by the snipers). We were in lockdown for weeks. Our entire area was freaking out. Quite a few people I knew would literally run from our cars to our homes. The memorial above speaks to this time.

Photos from the Children's Garden below...

I wasn't quite sure what the dark red plumes above were - larger and showier than astilbe, but certainly smaller than ornamental amaranth. The gardener said it was amaranth grown in pots. This is what accounts for the smaller than typical size. She indicated that this might not have been her intention, but a good tip for someone like me who loves amaranth but hasn't the space for it - stunting growth on purpose.

Above and below: I love the shapes, textures, heights, and all the interesting things going on in the Children's Garden. This is totally done right. You could explore this area for hours and make all kinds of pretend.

I am beginning to really take advantage of this beautiful garden. I've posted before on another visit, and also on the landscape photography workshop I took. I love that Brookside Gardens offers beautiful seasonal interest, a greenhouse full of interesting specimens, special exhibits, and children and adult programs. Their Wings of Fancy butterfly show is also an annual event my kids look forward to. We can do the whole thing in a day, or spend the whole day on one thing. Best of all, it's nearby and free. Any of these spots near you?


After composing this post, I received an email from Brookside Gardens updating the serious damage the recent storm had on the gardens. Brookside will probably leave one of the many fallen trees so that visitors can peek into and learn about the underground structure of a giant tree like this one below that ripped up the boardwalk on its way down...

Photo via Brookside Gardens Facebook fan page

Near the end of the message from Brookside:

...While it won't be long before we clean up every broken limb, the long-term effect of this storm will be felt for decades by way of the holes in our tree canopy. While we mourn the loss of our trees, we look forward to the opportunity their loss provides. You gardeners all know that insatiable desire to add new plants to your gardens - you feel it every time you stop at your local garden center, or visit a public garden and find a cool plant you've never seen before..


In my last post, I detailed some of the fun the girls and I had indoors during
the exciting, very brief, and fairly unpredicted storm, but it actually killed
several people in our area, including a neighbor who was the president of our
civic association, an environmental activist and from what I knew, an all-around
amazing guy. Carl was with seven local families near their community garden
plot. They were having a picnic celebrating their second harvest and also to
thank Carl for his leadership in attaining the land and creating the garden.
Carl rode his bike everywhere, including the 2 miles to the picnic. He used a
push mower and helped lead our neighborhood attain a more effective recycling and less
wasteful trash service. He was killed by lightening during the storm.

*I'm purposely not using Carl's full name because I want any searches to direct people to articles written solely about him.


On a lighter note, if that is possible after this fairly depressing post, I am off to a magical land of Spanish Moss and Angel Oaks. Photos will probably follow, as will the opportunity to do the regular blog reading that I have missed so much!


  1. That is so sad! I never understand these senseless acts of violence.


  2. Wow, Wendy, I do not know how I feel after reading this post, from the hidhs of a beautiful garden, to the lows of some very sad deaths.

  3. Wendy: After reading this post, all I can say is I am glad that you and your family has gone through the storm safe and sound. It is always difficult to know anybody you know died in any unusal cause.

    The gardens are very beautiful though, just make you think how the world is created. I think Gardens are created to calm our soul...

    Take care, Ami

  4. That edible plant border garden is great - so unique. I've never seen anything like that before.

    So sorry about your friend - he sounded like he was a friend to the earth.

  5. The gardener is very good at colour mixing in the edible border. ~bangchik

  6. Sad about the deaths, and yes I remember watching the news about them. But LOL at the story of the older couple.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  7. Hi Wendy, I don't know where to start - this post is so varied: the edible garden looks good enough to eat (yawn), Brookside gardens sounds amazing, we have a childrens garden at the local botanical gardens and I haven't got there yet. As for the shootings - horrendous part of life, as unpreventable as the storm that felled the tree I suppose. cheers, c

  8. I like that border with rhubarbs. Oh I am sure she notice that patch first... more obvious for eye level he he.

    The children's garden look really interesing! I will check on your earlier post after this.

    Btw, I feel sad for Carl ;-(

  9. Wow, that's a lot in one post. :-) Beautiful garden photos, what a neat place to have nearby enough to visit regularly. Glad you are able to enjoy it!

    LOLOL At the lovey-dovey couple. Too funny!

    Love the way the email from the Gardens looked at the positive - more space for new plants - when such a sad thing happened to their trees.

    So sorry to hear about Carl. Why does it seem like the good ones are always taken too soon?

  10. This was one very complicated post. Beautiful images and with some very sad moments and touching moments. So much going on. Your emotions must be all over the place.

  11. Oh, Wendy, this post was an emotional roller coaster ride. I so hope you're okay after all that going on. That edible border is magnificent! I want one! You have inspired my potager visions to new heights with that one photo. :)

    I do recall the DC sniper shootings. I'd forgotten all about them, and I cannot imagine that you went through that. At the time I kind of wondered if we were not entering some new and dark time in America, with this deranged person on the loose sure to inspire copycats around the country. So grateful that did not happen... and grateful you and your family made it through safely. How terrifying!

    My heart is sad for Carl. What a tragedy! We could use more of his kind -- not less. I am sure he will be terribly missed.

  12. You were obviously a good student in your landscape photography class, Wendy. Great photos and thank you for sharing your talent and heart.

  13. Seeds arrived. So many! And such a wide variety! I can hardly wait for spring to start experimenting. Thank you! Thank you!

  14. I'm sorry you had to experience the scary weeks of the shootings. That there's a marker at Brookside seems totally appropriate as a celebration of life.

    I love the edible border you show--proof that a veggie garden doesn't have to look like a militarized zone with single species all in a row.

  15. What a great idea to have a children's garden. So sad to hear about Carl. In Malaysia lightning and thunderstorms are quite common and many people are struck by lightning too.

  16. Hi Wendy, i have been reading your blog for quite some time.
    The garden is really beautiful! What a terrifying tragedy!

  17. I was LOLing reading the 'old couple' you were adoring and then finding out that it was the woman's dad, my husband and kids asked what was so funny and they came over to look at the 'old couple' picture. I told them what happened and they were laughing about it too.

    I didn't know the border was comprised of cabbages and all those good vegies until you mentioned it. The whole place looks really nice. The storm did quite a bit of damage. I hope the city has funding to fix the damages.


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