Silver Spring’s Brookside Gardens

It’s been a busy week – just returned today from a state convention and tomorrow I have to get back on the road. No rest for the wicked.

Anyhow, let’s talk about Brookside – a popular public garden covering 50 acres in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. It was another stop on the first day of this year’s Garden Bloggers Fling.


There was a lot that Judy and I didn’t get to see while there, but we did like the children’s garden.


Verbena bonariensis makes a see-through screen near this water feature.


Here’s a clear view of the same water feature.


For me, orange roses are adorable, despite my failed attempt to grow ‘Westerland’.


Another water feature with a nice gazebo in the background. I think someone told me this was a popular spot for weddings.


I like these butterfly sculptures. Speaking of which …


There’s a nice outdoor butterfly garden, with lots of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and other host plants.


Brookside Gardens also hosts a butterfly house every summer. I love butterfly houses, and we spent a lot of time at this one.


Butterfly houses are filled mostly with exotic species raised on butterfly farms in Central America and Southeast Asia.


Some conservationists have mixed feelings about butterfly houses. They fear the commerce in butterflies might spread diseases or parasitoids. Also, there’s the possibility that butterfly species will escape and become naturalized in new areas. While that doesn’t sound so terrible (“The butterflies are coming!”), it could have a negative impact on local plants and insects.

DSC_1037On the other hand,  the educational value of butterfly houses shouldn’t be downplayed. What if they helped more people understand the importance of butterfly host plants and not using insecticides? And that leads to more butterfly and pollinator gardens in urban and suburban landscapes?


In any case, it’s an enchanting experience to be surrounded by these fluttering beauties.


I heard a kid refer excitedly to the critter above as “Hey, it’s a butterfly with a big red butt!”


This one’s wings are a bit ragged.


This green-and-black butterfly seems to enjoy feeding on Pentas.


Oh, and this butterfly house had lots of caterpillars on display. The one above is Zebra Longwing, I think.


And this one is a Cecropia Moth. Though it looks to me sort of like a Tomato Hornworm.


Here it looks like Brookside is engaged in cutting edge research on using plants to grow brain tissue. Just kidding. But seriously, what the heck is that?

That’s all for now.

25 Comments on “Silver Spring’s Brookside Gardens”

  1. On balance, I agree with you; the more people are educated by seeing and, more importantly, enjoying butterflies AND the caterpillars the better chance we have of them not using insecticides. Although a recent article in the Guardian is about the fact that insect numbers in Germany (and probably all of Europe) have dropped by a phenomenal amount. Great images of the butterflies.

  2. When I visited a butterfly house in Florida I saw some of the escapees in surrounding gardens. It did make me wonder about them establishing there. I didn’t think about the possible negative reasons to not let them escape.
    Several years ago there was a temporary butterfly house at a zoo not far from where I live. They had all native (to North America) butterflies and moths in it. To me that is the most educational. I heard people exclaim that they had never seen some of the common butterflies seen around here. They are gorgeous as you know. I was so hoping this trend would catch on.

  3. I walked around quite a bit at Brookside and thoroughly enjoyed the paths through the wooded areas (not sure if it was the peacefulness or the shade – it was so HOT!). I didn’t see the “brain” – how delightfully weird! Hopefully someone has the answer to this mystery.

  4. I loved the butterfly pavillion at Brookside! And Judy’s pictures do such justice to the amazing colors and patterns of those beauties. It really was an enchanted place. Thanks for the lovely memories!

  5. Goodness, what is that last image? What an interesting array of butterflies, the eye on the brown one is stunning. I do like the verbena screen, I grew lots from seed this year and they are all flowering now. I do like the butterfly

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