Tag Archives: Maryland Parks

Scenes from a Lovely Fall Outing to Brookside Gardens

 

Is it just me, or has this fall been especially beautiful?  The scenery seems ablaze with golden yellow, fiery orange, and deep red as the foliage puts on its seasonal performance. Perhaps the general gloom of this past year makes the bright spots that much more vivid, or maybe Mother Nature just knows how much we need it right now.

The fam framed by fall foliage

It’s this autumn luster that brought us to Brookside Gardens this past weekend — well, coupled with a little photography agenda.  We wanted to get out and enjoy the day before the rain came, someplace relaxing that would showcase the season.  So, I checked the round-up of the best outdoor places for ideas (yep, I use my own blog!), and in one glance I knew where we were going: Brookside Gardens, the beautiful public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park in the Montgomery Parks system.

Owen, circa 2010

Owen, circa 2015

The lead image in that post, the one of oh-so-sweet, four-year-old Owen chilling in the tree, was taken at Brookside almost exactly 10 years ago.  We recreated the photo when we happened to be back there five years later, so when I saw it again and did the math, I realized it was time for the next installment.

Paved paths traverse the gardens…

…as do leave strewn dirt trails

As those photos indicate, we’ve been enjoying Brookside Gardens for a long time.  Along with an occasional fall visit, we usually go for the wonderful annual Wings of Fancy butterfly exhibit and Garden of Lights holiday display, however, both were among the many beloved area events cancelled this year.  But this autumn outing was lovely and serene and perfect for right now.  Plus, we got that shot.

Owen at 14

Of course, we had to capture our best girl, too

Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, MD.  Right now, the grounds are open to wander and enjoy daily from sunrise to sunset, and the Visitor Center 10am – 2pm.   The sweet Children’s Garden is not accessible during Covid.  Along with the links above, read more about Brookside in this KFDC post.

And get more of a glimpse of the gorgeous fall in the pics below…

 

Goose watching

 

And it was all yellow

 

Japanese maple…wowza

 

View from a gazebo

 

Shimmering woods

 

A serene pond scene

 

This pergola turns into a fab pink walkway during Garden of Lights

 

Masks highly encouraged!

 

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Filed under 2020, All ages, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Fall, Free, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from the Wings of Fancy Exhibit at Brookside Gardens



A visit to the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has become an annual tradition for us. The exhibit showcasing nearly 20 species of live butterflies and caterpillars from North America, South America, and Asia continues to delight, fascinate, educate, and challenge (more on that one in a sec) year after year.

It always opens in mid-spring and runs through the summer. Sasha, her friend Ingrid, and I finally made our 2017 trip out there a couple of days ago, and it was lovely as ever! The South Conservatory transformed into a beautiful butterfly garden, with the many varieties flitting about the colorful flowers and plants, feels kind of like a fairytale world (save for the heat, which is about 10 degrees warmer than outside). It’s mesmerizing to watch the many varieties fly around, land delicately on a flower, then flutter about again. There are also chrysalises and cocoons on display, and staff are around to offer insight about the butterflies and exhibit.

We all seemed to have some “goals” for our visit (that challenge I mentioned before): The girls were on a mission to have butterflies land on them (Sasha purposely chose her dress for it!) and would stand or sit still as they waited. I loved snapping photos, with an aim to capture their intricate wing patterns, the blue morph proving to be the most elusive.

Looks like the dress worked!

Of course, we spent time wandering around the rest of the grounds, too — Brookside is fantastic to visit any time of year — but the butterflies are just here through September 17. Admission is $8/adult, $5/child, free for 2 and under for the exhibit, and entry to Brookside Gardens is free. You can read more about Wings of Fancy and Brookside in this post about one of our previous experiences there. And you can get a glimpse of it all in these images… enjoy!

Just a couple of tree nymphs, hanging out chatting about life

A perfect spicebush swallowtail

Such gorgeous wing patterns

Easy to see how they got the “owl” name

ID the butterflies!

The best I could get of the blue morph

See the butterfly in the foreground that looks like a leaf?

We “heart” butterflies

Wandering the Brookside grounds

More creatures to see beyond the butterflies

A queen in her palace

How you doin’?

Toe landing!

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Scenes from a Day at Purse State Park



Owen just returned from a few weeks of sleep away camp, and this is our week to hang out together, as Sasha is busy with Adventure Theatre acting camp, and he doesn’t begin Camp Arena Stage until next week. We spent yesterday at Purse State Park with friends, wandering the shoreline hunting for fossils, picnicking on the beach, and swimming in the Potomac (the kids did, anyway).

A lovely view of the Potomac

We first visited Purse a couple of years ago after my friend Jody heard from a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum that it was a great place to search for fossilized shark teeth and other prehistoric marine life remnants. It’s one of the best adventure tips I’ve received for KFDC — we love visiting and always come home with a good haul of fossil finds, occasionally with some pretty interesting pieces. In fact, yesterday Jody found a very rare pygmy white shark tooth (confirmed on The Fossil Forum)!

Jody’s rare pygmy white shark tooth

You can read more about the locale in Charles County, MD, in this post, which also has logistics for visiting. If you like a little adventure in your beach outing, this is a perfect place to go; it’s actually more about fossil hunting than beaching, but there is sand and surf to enjoy during the warm months — just be sure to check the tide table to make sure there is enough sand! Get a look at it all in these scenes from yesterday.

See it?

Fallen trees add some obstacles (and climbing ops for kids)

The squish of toes in the sand

Crouch anywhere by the water, and you’re bound to find a fossil

More swimming than fossil hunting by these kids – they were so happy the water was warm enough!

Fossilized shells embedded in the cliffside

Can’t beat a beach picnic!

Not the usual wildlife you expect to see at the beach

Sightings of these little guys are more common

Another friendly critter

I always bring a container with a hole in the lid to stash my finds

A peek inside

Getting creative with the full haul at home

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Filed under 2017, All ages, DC, Free, Maryland, Nature, Ongoing, Outdoor, Park, Summer, Weekdays, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: May 15-19

Running the labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park

Running the labyrinth at Georgetown Waterfront Park



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Monday – Hit the playground at Wheaton Regional Park. Two levels of slides, climbing nets, monkey bars, swings, and more fun features will appeal to all ages and abilities. Pack lunch to eat at nearby picnic tables under the lofty trees. It’s open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Tuesday – Visit one of DC’s most tried and true for kids: The National Museum of Natural History. With exhibits to indulge all kinds of interests, you really can’t go wrong. Gawk at the beasts in the Hall of Mammals, hold live creatures in the Insect Zoo, learn about early humans and see what you’d look like as a Neanderthal, catch an IMAX film, and be sure to take advantage of FREE entry on Tuesdays to the Butterfly Pavilion! (KFDC Tip: Get tickets to see the butterflies when you arrive, since entry is timed, and yours may not begin right away.). Admission to the museum is free, but IMAX films are $9/adult, $7.50/child. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm.

Wednesday – Head to Kids Corner on The Plaza at CityCenter, where they are welcoming little ones for outdoor story time, singing, and fun with DC Public Library. The weekly series runs through September 27. The fun begins at 10:30am, and admission is free.

Thursday – Enjoy Shakespeare on strings at a performance of Midsummer Magic, an interactive puppetry show at the the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Showtime is 10am, and tickets are $10. Plan on lunch after at one of the many nearby H Street eateries.

Friday – Play outside at Georgetown Waterfront Park. Let the kids run through the sprays of the interactive fountain if it’s on, play on the grassy areas, follow the paths of the in-ground labyrinth, and watch the boats and ducks go by on the river. After (or before, depending on when you go), have a bite to eat or do some shopping in the neighborhood full of restaurants and retail.


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Filed under 2017, All ages, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Park, Seasonal, Spring, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays