Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Travel

April 3, 2013

Brookside Gardens offers year-round beauty

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"We’ve always been a strong advocate of sustainability, and much of what we do has a green message," McDermott said.

Brookside also offers a series of free lectures that bring in top name speakers from the horticulture world such as Doug Tallamy, professor and author of "Bringing Nature Home," who’s scheduled to speak on April 26. In the summer, Brookside holds a series of outdoor concerts each Tuesday evening in June and, in September, stages an annual Children’s Day with a mix of educational and fun family-friendly activities.

One of my favorite features of the garden is its Heart Smart Trail, roughly a mile- long, hard-surface pathway that encourages a healthier lifestyle through walking. Every 1/10 of a mile, bronze medallions embedded in the path let walkers keep track of their distance.

Along with a Visitor Center, Brookside has two adjoining conservatories full of seasonal displays. The North house has permanent tropical plants with seasonal accent plantings while the South house is dedicated to seasonal plantings.

With an annual attendance of around 400,000, one of the busiest times of the year comes during its Wings of Fancy exhibit in the two conservatories that features live exotic butterflies from Costa Rica, Asia, North America and occasionally Africa. This year’s event is scheduled from May 4 through Sept. 22. While admission to Brookside Gardens is free of charge, admission to the Wings of Fancy Display is $6 for adults, $4 for children 3 t0 12.

Oddly enough, winter is also a busy season for Brookside when more than a million LED lights arranged in unique nature-based or whimsical shapes fill the gardens with light along a half mile walkway. The Garden of Lights runs this year from the end of November through the beginning of January.

Even the dead of winter has its charms. Beside a therapeutic tranquillity, visitors can find interesting plants such as red bark dogwood, holly and early flowers like Lenten rose, snowdrops, winter jasmine and witch hazel.

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Dave Zuchowski is a travel writer for CNHI News Service. Contact him at owlscribe@yahoo.com.

 

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If You’re Going . . .

Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, Md. For more information, phone 301-962-1400 or visit website www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside.

For information on other attractions in the area, phone 877-789-6904 or www.visitmontgomery.com.

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