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    Brookside Gardens is a wonderful oasis near Washington DC. It is full of varied and beautiful gardens at all times of year. In the winter there are amazing holiday lights and in the summer, lush gardens with all sorts of walking paths. Whenever I go into the greenhouse with its abundance of tropical foliage I feel a great sense of tranquility and time moving slowly. The grounds are larger than you might think so be sure to take the time to explore the ponds, meadows, and fields. There are some great walking paths at all sorts of levels of difficulty.

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    How quaint is Brookside Garden? Very! I came here this past weekend after lunch in Wheaton and boy was it crowded. The visitor parking lot was full although I managed to snatch a spot in the second one. Even so, there were a lot of people coming in behind me trying to secure parking. Apparently, Brookside Gardens is an award-winning public garden. Admission is free except when there are certain events, namely the Garden of Lights ($20 cash only for cars/vans Monday through Thursday; $25 Friday-Sunday). The Brookside Gardens have garden exhibits – aquatic garden, azalea garden, formal garden, outdoor butterly garden, rose garden, Japanese style garden, maple garden, perennial garden, trial garden, rain garden, and a yew garden. There are also two conservatories for year-round view. The maple terrace has raised beds of ‘Suminagashi’ Japanese maples. The bed encircles a sitting area of benches accented by colorful tropicals and annuals. The formal gardens are a series of various areas including the perennial garden, the yew garden, maple terrace, and the fragrance garden linked by a walkway with a view to the wedding gazebo. It looks like one of the ponds here is being refurbished as it was completely dry. I even spotted a lone frog hopping around this pond, trying to get out. The fragrance garden, one of my favorites, has perennials planted along the perimeter along with fragrant trees, shrubs, vines, and roses. The center beds feature seasonal flowers. There were so many multi-colored tulips in the fragrance gardens! Also, there were different plants and herbs, like catnip and mint and even celery.Another favorite of mine was the azalea garden. It’s a semi-wooded area that features over 300 varieties of azaleas represented by 2,000 plants. So many different, vibrant colors of azaleas! The aquatic garden features two ponds with Japanese iris and other hydrophilic plants. The second pond has the Anderson pavilion overlooking the pond. Currently, the Anderson pavilion is under construction. I saw some turtles and small fish in the aquatic garden. I’m eager to come back and see the rose garden. This garden is typically popular from June through September when roses bloom. There are over 100 varieties of roses planted here along with ornamental grasses and perennials. The Gude garden lawn, Japanese tea house, reflection terrace, the labyrinth, and section of the Heart Smart Trail were all closed for renovations. A shame, because I was looking forward to walking through these especially the Japanese tea house. It just means I’ll have to visit again when they reopen. I read that the Japanese tea house is located on an island surrounded by bamboo, conifers, and other ground covers. There are koi in the ponds too. It was a wonderful way to spend a lovely afternoon. Did I mention there are butterfly benches? Picturesque gardens and a tranquil atmosphere, what more could you want?

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    Lovely!Be sure to go to the nature center next door as well.

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    So gorgeous and peaceful. Amazing variety of plants.

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    Yesterday, Valentine’s Day I ordered dinner from “Jewel Of India” in Silver Spring, MD. It turned out to the best Indian restaurant I have ordered from, ever. I have been to many, I love Indian food but “Jewel of India” is by far the best one around. The staff was very professional and nice. The food was excellent. I ordered a dish of mixed grill that wasn’t really varied but the meat was very tender, juicy and tasty. For $22 though, I expected more than 1 single shrimp, a chiken leg, a tiny kubade and a few little pieces of white chicken meat served with white rice. Even the other dishes I ordered weren’t enough but they were absolutely scrumptious. I guess the food was so good that I wish I didn’t finish mine in one seating. I also ordered dessert consisting of little tiny balls of some kind of spongy cake in a delicious syrupy sauce and I wished they gave more than 2 little balls.Othjer than that, it was by far the best Indian food I’ve ever had.