Explore the Blooms and Beauty of Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens provides a tranquil oasis for nature lovers, gardening enthusiasts and anyone seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Its carefully curated landscapes and plant collections make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Like most botanical gardens, Brookside Gardens is a photographer’s paradise. In fact, I saw several camera set ups to envy. We also watched lovely brides (every bride is lovely) on photo shoots — the gardens are a lovely background for any photography. In fact, the gardens are an oasis in the midst of cluttered suburbia, pretty much anytime in spring or summer, the gardens are lovely. 

Do you enjoy botanical gardens? Be sure to check out Meadowlark Gardens and Chanticleer Gardens!

What to Expect at Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens is Montgomery County’s award-winning 50-acre public display garden within Wheaton Regional Park. Included in the gardens are several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden, and the Woodland Walk. The Formal Gardens areas include a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden. Brookside Gardens also features two conservatories for year-round displays. One of my favorite areas of the gardens is the charming children’s garden with changing displays designed to encourage children to learn about plants and gardening.

Brookside Gardens, unlike most of the other gardens attractions, didn’t start out as the estate grounds to some millionaire. Instead, it was a project of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, opening on 13 July, 1969. The site formerly had been the location of Stadler Nursery. These gardens were always meant to be open to the public for everyone’s enjoyment.

Brookside Gardens offers reminders throughout the gardens to practice mindfulness to improve your wellbeing. One is titled “Become Self Aware” and suggests that you pause to “feel the air moving across your skin.” It asks where on your body you feel the wind — and in fact, it was a windy day. Then the sign instructed, “Bring your awareness to those parts of your body.” Another, “Hear the Sounds,” requests you to close your eyes and take deep breaths before paying attention to the sounds surrounding you. Then, “focus on the calls of the birds and other natural sounds.” At each sign, we stopped and followed the steps each suggested. Finally, we came to “Make a Connection,” which told us to sit or stand still for several moments, attending to the parts of our bodies touching the earth. “Feel your connection to the earth and the support it provides,” it exhorted.

April, May and June

I’ve visited in April, May and June (three of the best months to visit botanical gardens). In April, the gardens are just awakening from their winter slumber. The azaleas and the roses are still in hiding. But the flowering quince, weeping cherry, camelias and redbuds will not disappoint. And of course, there’s the plethora of bulb plants. We enjoyed the joyful varieties of daffodils, the many different elegant tulips and the exuberant colorful hyacinths. To my delight, I saw a single Sweet Betsy, or toad trillium, hiding amongst the daffodils.

In May at Brookside, the profusion of early spring blooms — the tulips and bulb flowers, the cherry trees, magnolias, and dogwoods — were well over. But the azaleas (some 300 varieties) were peaking, the hostas leafed out, adding their subdued blues, dark greens and chartreuse to the lush green landscape (I love hostas), and the wisteria was in full bloom. 

In June, the rose garden was magnificent. Roses of all colors, and all the colors enhanced and vibrant after a night of rain storms. Hydrangeas were also peaking, and gorgeous in pinks and blues and purples. Mostly, we stood mesmerized by a great blue heron fishing for their breakfast in one of the reflecting ponds.

Know Before You Go

Weekends when the weather is nice, Brookside Gardens will be crowded. Although there is ample parking, it does fill up. Go early. The gardens are wheelchair accessible, with paved paths and designated parking areas. They are open to the public year-round, free of charge.

Getting there: 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD
Hours: Gardens: sunrise – sunset, visitors Center: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; conservatories: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Website: Brookside Gardens

Looking for other interesting things to see and do in Montgomery County? Check out the places below:

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