“Helping You Find Plants That Work”

by Ana Morlier

Unforgettable Garden Getaways

Happy summer, readers! Summer is quickly waning, and for many others like me, only two weeks of sweet summer freedom are left. If you’re like me, then you’ve been anxiously pondering how to make the most of the rest of your summer. I realized that vacations don’t always have to be far-flung tropical destinations with sandy shores or rustic mountainscapes. The same relaxation or thrill of a new place can be found closer than you think, and without the stress and extra cash needed to travel far. Today’s article is a roundup of my favorite garden vacation spots that can be enjoyed in a day! Each one promises adventure and enjoyment for all through a myriad of unique attractions (depending on the garden). Give yourself some clarity and fun through the haze of back-to-school shopping and scheduling by treating yourself to a trip to one (or all!) of these four family-friendly gardens.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

Though the trip can be a bit long (about 2-3 hours), the destination is worth the journey. The gardens feature a wide variety of attractions. The extensive conservatory hosts a variety of tropical plants that burst into colorful life in immersive landscapes. Parallel to the conservatory, large water fountains provide a spectacle to watch, especially during nighttime shows that see the fountains awash in light and synchronized to music. Longwood is also home to vast wildflower fields, natural treehouses (that are sure to delight children and kids-at-heart), topiaries, seasonal landscapes, a museum-house, and even live music. And that’s only naming a few features of this immense garden! Don’t worry about packing a lunch. Longwood offers a variety of delicious food, from wood-fired pizza and gourmet seasonal dishes at the cafe to high-brow cuisine at the 1984 restaurant. Want to do an adult night on the town? Longwood also features a beautiful beer garden, brimming with fine spirits and beautiful plants. There is truly something fun for everyone to enjoy. Tickets are a little pricey: general admission is $25.00, but the gardens are sprawling and endless, a perfect place to enjoy nature in all its glory. You can even bring a bit of Longwood home with you at the decently-priced gift shop that offers live plants. Longwood is open most days: Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.

Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, MD

This beautiful 22-acre topiary garden is only two hours from Thurmont. Not only do the gardens feature ornate topiaries, but also include a nature trail, fountains, sculpture gardens, lily ponds, and a historic mansion museum. No need to power through the gardens until your feet are sore; the gardens feature a multitude of beautiful benches and chairs to stop, relax, and take in the sights. Other amenities include a butterfly house, yoga, camps for younger children, and informative presentations on plant life. To stay updated on these and other fun experiences, be sure to check the event schedule on Ladewgardens.com. General admission is $15.00 for adults, $10.00 for those 62 and older, $4.00 for ages 2 to 12, and free for children under 2. You can plan a visit anytime, Thursday through Tuesday (excluding Wednesday), between 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

You can find a variety of gardens in this 50-acre estate, featuring an “Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Japanese Style Garden, Trial Garden, Rain Garden, and the Woodland Walk… a Perennial Garden, Yew Garden, the Maple Terrace, and Fragrance Garden.” In addition, they also have two large conservatories, according to the website (montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/brookside-gardens/visit/). Not only is admission free, but it is only an hour away from Thurmont! Donations are encouraged in order to keep these beautiful gardens for all ages well-maintained. Explore the outdoor gardens every day of the week, from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m, and enjoy the conservatories from 10:00 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lilypons Water Gardens, Adamstown, MD

These beautiful ponds are only a 30-minute drive from Thurmont and include free admission! The many ponds feature a plethora of local aquatic nature, including massive lily pads, wide varieties of lotus and lilies in stunning bloom, and beautiful birds specific to the aquatic habitat, as detailed by signs along the trails. A fair warning: Not all the trails are made of gravel or mowed, so wear galoshes, pants, or long socks to protect yourself from ticks and scratchy, long grass. Koi, aquatic plants/flowers, and other fish are available for purchase if you are especially inspired by the gardens. Most trails are generally unoccupied, so visiting offers a serene walk with lovely, lively lily pads to keep you company. Discover all that Lilypons has to offer, Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

 I hope you take the time to visit at least one of these exquisite gardens! Each one is sure to provide stunning natural beauty, tranquility, and delight from discovery, no matter what age you or your loved ones are. Or, stay local and support the National Parks here in Maryland by visiting and donating. Want to re-read any of my old articles? Visit https://crazyplantladybanner.weebly.com/ for archived articles or to suggest topics for me to write about.

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