Monday, April 1, 2013

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Maryland

Last Saturday was the nicest day we have had in a long time.  It was sunny with not a cloud in the sky, and warm enough to be able to walk around in a sweater.  We wanted to go for a ride and after tossing around a few ideas we both agreed on our destination, Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland.  It took us just under an hour to get there.  

I don't know why we were so surprised at the amount of people we found.  We were thinking we might have to do a u-turn out of the parking lot, when an attendant walked over and told us we could use the 'buses-only' spaces.  There were only three of them, two were taken and we slid right in between two parked cars.   We really lucked out because these parking spaces were a very short walk to the visitors center. 

The gardens are just waking up, the grass was still a bit brown but the daffodils and other spring flowers were blooming.  

New buds on all the trees were starting to appear and the blossoms on some were about another week away from fully blooming.  Still very pretty though.

A very interesting sculpture made by Seth Goldstein and Paula Stone in 2009.  According to the marker "this whimsical sculpture was fashioned from vines of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), a non-native invasive vine removed from local parkland.  This rampant vine seriously hampers the ability of woodlands to regenerate and support wildlife, since it smothers and strangles the plants on which it grows."  Makes a fun sculpture though doesn't it?

Gregg enjoying his surroundings....

and there were two of the several Canada Geese seen on our walk.   They went bottoms up several times and the nearby turtle seemed to be studying them.  

It was nice to see the turtles again, the first time for us this year.  

This couple were definitely enjoying a leisurely swim but stayed clear of the geese and the turtles.

We continued our walk to find flowers that we could take photos of and here are a few.  Some kind of ornamental cabbage, though I can't say I have seen one exactly like this before.  The closest I came to identifying something remotely similar was the White Peacock Ornamental Cabbage.

Besides enjoying all the outside flowers we walked around the greenhouse, but I'll save those photos for another post.  By this time we had both walked all over the park and were almost back to where we had parked the car.  This was a Red-winged blackbird that Gregg took a photo of.  

I couldn't bring myself to sit in these, although I know they were for public use.  Maybe if I was desperately tired but no, I had one last burst of energy for...

the gift shop.  I can't pass one by without walking in.

They have the neatest things in there.  This is actually the smaller gift shop, the main one is at the visitors center at the entrance.

They were selling lots of items with the Cherry Blossom Festival in mind.  I also stopped at the larger shop where I had a great conversation with the lady behind the counter.  We were talking about the cherry blossoms and how much we enjoyed them, but I said yes I had gone there a couple of years or so back but it had been so crowded and getting around on the metro was a bit of a challenge.  "Oh," she said, "you should see them at night. You have to go clubbing, by the time you get out of the club at three o'clock in the morning it's gorgeous, and the reflection of the blossoms shows up with all the lights, it's fantastic!."  I chuckled and said I was lucky I could stay up past nine in the evening let alone three o'clock in the morning.

Now, this lady I was talking to did go 'clubbing' last year and I was impressed at the thought as she proudly told me she was in her eighties.  I felt a real wimp!  Another lady piped up behind me, more near my age and she said that she had been there at ten o'clock at night and it was just as lovely, and there was plenty of parking available nearby.  Did they both look at me rather sympathetically?  I smiled, thanked them both and left with my nine o'clock bed time calling me, as after a very long walk around the park I didn't think I'd last past eight that night.  Clubbing?  A distant memory from my 20's, yes I remember dancing all night, and walking right out of the night club with my friends and right into a coffee shop as it was opening.  Gregg laughed when I told him about my conversation, and then we reached the car and found someone had parked their car right behind us, effectively blocking us in.

I had visions of us getting into bed at midnight but fortunately it was a lady who worked at the visitors center.  She had left a note of apology written on a card which she had left on the dashboard, along with her mobile phone number.  How nice is that?  At that time our parking person walked by and when we showed her the card she knew who the lady was, used her walkie-talkie and a few minutes later the lady turned up full of apologies and moved her car.  We assured her we weren't annoyed, thanked her and were very happy to back out of the space without the hassle we thought we were going to have.

I'm always glad to see our Virginia sign as we pass out of Maryland.  As nice as our visit was my homing pigeon instincts kick in and it never fails that I light up when I see our home as we turn the corner, no matter how short or how long our trip may be.  No I didn't make it past nine o'clock that night, and dancing the light fantastic was the furthest thing from my mind.  But not to that dear 80 year old plus lady who was planning her next one, and who made my day by telling me how she liked to take a walk near the cherry blossoms at three o'clock in the morning after she had been 'clubbing.'  I want to applaud her, I really do.