“Jaws” by Seth Goldstein and Paula Stone (2009) created with oriental bittersweet vines (Celastrus orbiculatus).
School is out!!! Time for fun, excessive playing of video games, popsicles, suntan lotion, and above all… field trips!!! One place I have never visited, and always wanted to explore with my kids was Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County. I knew this place by reputation alone and had heard about the butterfly garden that they maintained. With summer fever alive in our house, a sunny and breezy day in the forecast and the need to get out of the house for a new perspective, we packed up the family van & set off for adventure!
Upon our arrival I could sense the excitement building as we made our way through the jam-packed parking lot. We parked and unloaded in a way resembling the clown car at the circus and finally began to take it all in… It was beautiful! On our way to the Conservatory entrance, we passed a series of unusual vine sculptures created by repurposing a non-native, invasive vine from a local parkland. According to its plaque, these vines would have otherwise smothered and strangled other plants. This in turn, would have seriously hampered the regeneration of the woodlands necessary to support wildlife. The sculpture was very appropriately named, “Jaws”.
The grounds were so peaceful, even with all of the visitors… and the landscaping was absolutely stunning! I could see why this was a haven for photographers! But by far, the highlight of the day was the “Wings of Fancy” exhibit. I have visited butterfly
gardens before, but this was such a different experience with the infectious enthusiasm and wonderment of the children. Gorgeous butterflies fluttered wildly all around us! They landed on our hats, our shoulders… it seemed like the brighter the color of our clothing, the more they were attracted to us as if we were giant flowers filled with nectar. Our favorites were these gloriously huge Blue Morpho butterflies from Mexico… They were so vividly hued, and they were everywhere!!!
We had a wonderful day! Breathtaking gardens, a nice exhibit of paintings in the Visitor Center, a whimsical children’s garden complete with a lovely little treehouse… all came together for an enchanting afternoon. I highly recommend a visit, just be sure you get a bite to eat before you arrive. There are no picnicking areas on the grounds, and you will want to be there for a while!