Just outside the beltway on the Maryland side, lies a little burb called Wheaton. My neighbor, who grew up in D.C. in the 40s and 50s, always pronounces this place, "Whetten," as in I'm going to whet-ten your appetite. He claims this is the correct way to say it. But then again, this is the guy who pronounced ambulance, "am-bah-lance" ...all the years he drove the ambahlance. It never fails to amuse me and whenever I have occasion to go to Wheaton, I make a point of telling everyone I know, "I'm going to Whetten." No one else ever thinks this is funny.

In Wheaton, there's a fun little park called Wheaton Regional. There's a train and a carousel and a ce-ment camel. But behind Wheaton regional park is the real gem: Brookside Gardens.

Brookside Gardens was opened in 1969 and is Montgomery County's incomparable, award-winning 50-acre public display garden situated within Wheaton Regional Park. Included in the gardens are several distinct areas: Aquatic Garden, Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Children's 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 feature two conservatories for year-round enjoyment. A horticultural reference library is located in the airy Visitors Center. Admission is free.

Commission landscape architect Hans Hanses developed the original design, using many European concepts he gleaned while training in Germany and Switzerland. More concerned with aesthetics than formula, his goal was to inspire visitors to garden by displaying plants that were readily attainable and suitable for the region. Both formal and informal areas were divided into smaller, intimate "rooms" defined by walls, shrubs, or trees. Contrasts of color were used in building materials as well as plants for dramatic effects.

Brookside Gardens' mission, as a public garden, is to foster appreciation for the art of gardening and the science of horticulture through plant collections and displays, learning opportunities and special events.


This is also the place where we saw all the butterflies last week. After the butterflies, we took a walk through the gardens, stopped to pay tribute at the memorial to the D.C. Sniper victims, and scared some geese. It's every bit as wonderful as Hershey Gardens and you don't have to pay to get in. Not bad for a day's work.

Theme of the day: Gratitude for all God's wondrous variety
Word of the day: sniper

Maybe the theme of the day should have been Two Sides to Every Coin.