The seasonal display features hundreds of live butterflies from all over the world, as they flutter and glide throughout the conservatory. Witness their amazing metamorphosis on display, from tiny chrysalis to flying beauty. Learn firsthand how these magnificent creatures play an integral role in establishing healthy ecosystems and how to create a healthy environment that supports the butterfly life cycle.
Wings of Fancy will be on display at Brookside Gardens through September 16, 2018. Hours are 9am – 5pm until June 30. From July 1 – August 30, it will be open 9am – 1pm on weekdays, and 9am – 5pm on weekends. From September 1-16, hours will return to 9am – 5pm. Tickets are $8/age 13+, $5/age 3-12, free/2 & under. You can also try to win them through the giveaway below!
Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to the Wings of Fancy exhibit at Brookside Gardens, simply leave a comment below telling me what activity you and the kids enjoyed most over Memorial Day weekend. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, June 6, 2018, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!
This post is sponsored by Montgomery Parks, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.
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?
Butterflies are a huge part of Sasha’s girly-girl repertoire. Right up there with princesses, Hello Kitty, unicorns, and pink. She squeals with earnest delight at the sight of anything pretty that flits delicately about, some of her favorite clothes are her “butterfly shirts,” and we’re getting ready to add decals of the dainty insects to her bedroom walls.
Suffice it to say, we have been looking forward to the “Wings of Fancy” exhibit at Brookside Gardens for awhile now. We would have visited earlier this summer had I not been waiting for Owen’s schedule to open up, so he could join us. Because even though a garden full of butterflies is the stuff Sasha’s fanciful dreams are made of, it’s also an enthralling sight for a nature lover like my boy. The timing actually worked out quite well, because Certifikid just debuted a deal for the exhibit, so we saved a few bucks on our outing, too.
Getting started in the Caterpillar Room
We finally headed over to Brookside and the butterflies this afternoon and it was truly worth the wait. Our visit started with an intro in the Caterpillar Room, where a staff member pointed out a few real caterpillars on plants, then showed us pictures of the butterflies they would become. From there, we entered the conservatory, where the first thing out of Sasha’s mouth was that squeal: “Look, butterflies!” Indeed.
One of many pretty sights
Eye to eye with a butterfly
Nearly 20 species of butterflies from North America, Central America, and Asia fluttered around us and the colorful flowers and plants throughout the greenhouse. We walked around every inch of it, trying to spot a species we hadn’t seen yet, watching them reveal different patterns as they opened their wings, and just staring in amazement at the sheer number of them.
Butterfly makes landing
Sasha liked looking for her favorite “pink and yellow” butterfly, while Owen kept hoping one would land on him. We stopped by a station where they could hold specimens that were no longer alive (staff told us they’re sterilized) and examine them through magnifying glasses. There are also cases containing cocoons, and when those butterflies hatch they’ll be released into the garden; we learned that a butterfly life is about two weeks long, so there is constant “turnover.”
Hands on in the garden
A really close look
Observing future butterflies
It’s pretty hot inside the exhibit, they say about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. This eventually took its toll, and we made our way out after about 30 minutes. But that wasn’t the end of our Brookside visit. We wandered the lovely grounds and, of course, had to stop by the Children’s Garden, where the kids played in the treehouse and hollowed out tree trunk/gnome hut.
The Children’s Garden
And we can’t go to Brookside without stopping by the turtle pond. The geese were hanging out, and they must be so used to people they let the kids get pretty close.
Strolling around the turtle pond
Who’s in for Duck Duck Goose?
From the gazebo over the pond, we watched the turtles and fish swim below, spotting all three snapping turtles (a small, medium, and large one) and many other kinds.
Too busy looking at turtles to notice the pretty view
A lovely afternoon, to say the least. We left feeling all aflutter. 🙂
Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, Md. Grounds are open daily from sunset to sundown. The Visitor Center is open from 9am -5pm, the conservatories from 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
“Wings of Fancy” is running through September 16. Hours are 10am – 4pm, but be sure to make sure it’s open before you go, as it has closed early on very hot days. Admission is $6/adults, $4/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under. Certifikid currently has a deal for weekday admission for one adult and one child for $6.