WASHINGTON — Nestled in Montgomery County’s Wheaton Regional Park is Brookside Gardens. In the 50 acres of its decorative landscape, you will find an ever-evolving beauty and calm.
Visitors come to get exercise, soak in the tranquility or learn gardening techniques to take home. Through the pandemic, more and more people are enjoying what it has to offer. Brookside gardens director, Stephanie Oberle, said attendance has gone up by about 40% in the last year.
“What we’ve learned during COVID — is really underscore the importance of nature to people’s wellbeing,” said Oberle.
While many people come to walk the one-mile loop for some scenic movement, Oberle recommends visitors plan to spend about an hour and a half to get the full experience. Guests can spend time in the Japanese Style Garden, Butterfly Garden, Fragrance Garden and more.
“The Fragrance Garden is a great spot,” said Oberle. “It’s a great place for people to come and learn about the herbs they can use in their cooking. Or they can come and learn about trees and flowers that smell wonderful. It adds a level of interest to their garden at home.”
That do-it-yourself inspiration was an original intent of the gardens. After more than 500 acres of land was set aside for Wheaton Regional Park in the 1950s, horticulturalists wanted a public space within it where people could learn about plants and gardening.
That vision came to life when Brookside Gardens opened its gates in 1969. It hasn’t stopped evolving since.
“Every week, every few days, you see something different,” said Mike Zasadil, who has visited the Brookside Gardens regularly through the pandemic. “You see things progressing and changing.”
The outdoor art installation “Facets of Hope” honors the lives lost to COVID-19 in Montgomery County. A strand of crystals is hung for each of the more than 1,400 county residents who have died due to the pandemic. The exhibit will be in place through September 2021.
Brookside Gardens is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. For more information, click here.