Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 3, 2013

Brookside Gardens offers year-round beauty

Nothing makes me gladder that I live in the Northeast than the early blooms of spring. While I don’t mind winter, its bleak but often beautiful landscape is magically transformed starting in March when everything goes from monotones to Technicolor in just the blink of an eye.

If you happen to be in the Capital region this time of year, I’d suggest a visit to Brookside Gardens in Wheatland, Md., a few miles north of the Washington Beltway, to experience the enchantments of spring. Not only does this award-winning, 50-acre public display garden have a fair share of flowering cherry trees, visitors will also find among the April blooms azaleas, crabapples, daffodils, dogwood, grape hyacinths, magnolias, quince, purple-leaf plum, redbud, tulips and viburnums.

The gardens take their name from the streams that flow around three-quarters of the periphery of the park-like setting that first opened in July 1969. Two ponds dot the property, and, along its banks, water-loving plants like Japanese iris thrive in eyesight of a graceful gazebo, located on the edge of the Azalea Garden.

During my visit, a border collie named Emmie, trained to chase away the unwanted Canadian geese without hurting them, ran along the pond banks earning her keep with obvious enjoyment.

At Brookside, visitors can stroll through a total of five formal gardens (perennials, yews, roses, maples, even plants that exude fragrance during the yearly growing cycle).

In 1972, a Japanese-style garden complete with a teahouse overlooking the ponds was dedicated to Adloph Gude, Sr., a local nurseryman who donated many of the garden’s collection of trees and shrubs.

There’s also a Trial Garden that sports 10,000 flowering bulbs in spring, followed by summer displays of new and unusual plant varieties and imaginative design ideas, and a new Rain Garden, installed in 2008, that’s filled with native plants that collect storm runoff and filter out pollutants.

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