Saturday, November 8, 2008

Brookside Gardens Fall Foliage

Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Maryland is a remarkable horticultural experience. It is the oldest of a number of gardens in the Washington suburbs that were built and are maintained by county level orginizations. Clearly there are some wealthy counties in our area! Foliage has passed peak this year, but every year is a little different and this one seems weighted towards the end. Sugar maples came and went early, their foliage spectacular,but short lived, I think a victim of our recent mini-drought. Black gums were more severely affected by a foliar fungus than they usually are and so their, normally reliable contribution was minimized somewhat, but everything else is wonderful.

The taxonomic range of the collections here is remarkable; in the fall I try to get by to see Disanthus cercidifolius. A lovely member of the witchhhazel family from Asia. It does indeed have Cercis-like leaves that move through a range of yellows, oranges, and scarlets before ending up a deep wine-red. Moreover it will color nicely even in partial shade. The Disanthus is in the woodland area between the Conservatory and the Visitor Center. If you get by you will doubtless notice some of the 700,000 holiday lights that are in the process of being deployed for the Gardens of Light-Seasons of Light display that will begin this November. It is spectacular; I am amazed every year at the clever innovations...

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