A Garden Gateway
Brookside Gardens is experiencing a wonderful makeover as we break ground on Phase I and II of our Master Plan and make other improvements. Though the construction will focus on a limited section of the Gardens, the changes will be transformative!
Here is what you need to know to plan your visit:
- NOTICE: The Visitors Center parking lot will be closed for major improvements from March 2014- June 2015.
- The Conservatory parking lot offers 39 spaces, or use suggested alternate parking locations.
- The Gardens and Conservatories are open!
Progress is being made on several phases of the Brookside Gardens Master Plan. This time last year, you may recall the Gude Garden being several shades of mud; now the pond edges are complete, the rolling contours of the landscape have been re-established, and the ponds are once again full of water. Brookside Gardens staff Phil Normandy and Lisa Tayerle worked with Parks landscape architect Ching-Fang Chen to design herbaceous plants for the lowest pond, now a marsh of mostly native wetland plants. What used to be an under-filled pond now features a winding stream lined with rounded stones and a fine selection of plants, which should fill in rapidly next spring. The concept is that after very heavy rainfalls, the banks of the stream will overflow and flood the marsh plantings, slowing down the water and capturing sediments. We’re very excited about this new type of planting at the Gardens.
Phase I and II of the Master Plan address the design of the 1800 Glenallan Avenue entrance and the parking area. This complex project will break ground in February 2014, and will result in a complete transformation of the entrance – distinguishing it as the primary entrance to the Gardens – and adding spaces and design features in and around the parking area. Countless improvements will result from the project, including:
• A more attractive and efficient entrance at the intersection of Glenallan Avenue and Heurich Road, with a safer, dedicated pedestrian walkway
• Lovely, original artwork announcing the entrance into a very special landscape
• A new boardwalk meandering through a magnolia grove and other new landscape areas prior to reaching the Visitors Center
• A parking garden with appealing plantings (including a diversity of new trees!) and additional parking spaces
• A courtyard for safe drop-off and pick-up of passengers at the Visitors Center
• A new Aquatic Overlook (north of the Visitors Center) with previously inaccessible views of the Aquatic Garden
• The new South Terrace (outside the Visitors Center Atrium) -- a charming resting place for intimate conversation, plus small classes and events
• A Water Garden featuring a design that will treat stormwater runoff
December 2014 Update:
In front of the Visitors Center, work continues at the entrance, parking garden and flanking garden rooms. Most of the underground utility work has been completed, as has the beautiful gabion wall which is made of concrete curbing and sidewalks recycled from the demolition phase earlier this summer. The gabion wall exemplifies our goal of repurposing existing materials. Recently crews started pouring the concrete curbs and gutters and will also be pouring a sample of the concrete that will make up the footers of the Overlook (a.k.a. the bus parking area) and the walls of the Underlook, a seating area that will have a lovely view of the Upper Aquatic Garden Pond. Our contractor would like to get as much concrete work done as possible before the cold weather really sets in.
Brookside Gardens staff Phil Normandy and Parks landscape architect Ching-Fang Chen have been working on plant lists for these gardens, which is a terrific opportunity to expand the plant collections. Already all the trees and many shrubs and perennials are being grown at Pope Farm, Parks’ nursery in Derwood.
These are only a sampling of the many improvements that will result from the construction project, which is estimated to be complete in June 2015. You can also learn more about our Entrance, Parking and Access Improvements at Montgomery Parks CIP project status web site.
Despite the construction, the Gardens will remain open to visitors, and the landscapes and displays will be as lovely as they always have been. For your convenience, we ask that you plan your trip in advance when visiting the Gardens. You might consider visiting on days and times that traditionally attract lower attendance, like weekdays, evenings and days that are not holidays. We acknowledge that parking will be a challenge and suggest carpooling and the following alternatives:
Brookside Gardens Conservatory parking lot (1500 Glenallan Avenue) There are 39 parking spaces in this lot with two accessible spaces available. The Visitors Center is approximately an eight-minute walk from the Conservatory. Restrooms, water fountains, and a gift shop are all available at the Conservatory.
Wheaton Regional Park (Shorefield parking area) This is a large parking lot with a path that leads through the Park to the Gude Garden pedestrian entrance at the Gardens (about a ten-minute walk). You may plan to ride the carousel and/or train in the Park before or after your visit to the Gardens. There are also several picnic tables in the Park available for a fun outdoor meal incorporated into your visit. And don’t be surprised if children want to make a stop at the newly renovated playground, which you will pass during your walk to the Gardens.
Kemp Mill Road (street parking) Kemp Mill Road is a wide street with ample space for street parking. Follow the Equestrian Trail Loop entering from Kemp Mill just south of Glenallan Avenue, to the Oak Ridge Trail, which brings you to Brookside Nature Center. The path is a natural surface horse trail that meanders through a wooded area almost parallel to Glenallan Avenue; the walk will take about ten minutes. Though the Nature Center parking lot will be in use for programming, you may walk through the property by entering the parking area and walking to the end of the parking lot. Here you may enter the Gardens through a pedestrian gate that brings you to a boardwalk along which a variety of native plants are featured. The Conservatory is only steps from the end of the boardwalk.
Glenmont Metro Station The Glenmont Metro Station (on the Red Line) is located at the intersection of Glenallan Avenue and Georgia Avenue, about a 15-minute walk to the Gardens. There is also a Ride On bus (Route 31) that stops at the intersection of Randolph Road and Heurich Road (on the corner with Glenallan Elementary School). A five-minute walk down Heurich will bring you to the Gardens.
Though the vehicle entrance at 1800 Glenallan Avenue will be closed during construction, the pedestrian entrance at this location will remain open for a portion of the construction schedule. As the project progresses, signs will be posted on-site and information will be available on the Gardens’ here and on our Facebook page listing any additional closings.
Programming affected by construction
With compromised parking, we have adjusted our educational programming. We will offer smaller classroom programs, providing an intimate experience for students. Workshops will result in take-home items that are small and lightweight, for easy transport to vehicles that might be parked a distance away. The annual Green Matters Symposium will be relocated to the Manor Country Club in Rockville. The third annual Private Garden Tour will proceed this spring, as all the gardens are located off-site, and summer camps will run as scheduled. Art exhibits on display in the Visitors Center will be accessible when the building is open.
Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly & Caterpillar Exhibit, July 1 - November 1, 2015
Facility Rentals- book your special event today!
We have made the difficult decision to cancel a number of larger events in 2014, including:
Earth Day Festival
Large Children's programs: St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt,
Native Plant Sale
Spring Lecture Series
Summer Twilight Concert Series
Some plant shows and sales
Please check the Xperience Program Guide for more information about our offerings in the upcoming months.
Though we know construction will present challenges over the next year, we look forward to the beautiful and improved facilities that will be available to our visitors. We thank you, in advance, for your patience during this time of transition and for your generous support of Brookside Gardens and this important project.
1800 Glenallan Ave.
Wheaton, MD 20902 301-962-1400
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission encourages the participation of individuals with disabilities in its programs, park sites and its facilities. For support in using programs, sites and facilities, such as policy changes, staff support, or adaptive equipment, contact Management Services at (301) 495-2540. For communication supports such as sign language interpretation, large print materials, listening devices, etc., contact Management Services at (301) 495-2540 or through Maryland Relay, 1-800-735-3258.