Butterflies are a huge part of Sasha’s girly-girl repertoire. Right up there with princesses, Hello Kitty, unicorns, and pink. She squeals with earnest delight at the sight of anything pretty that flits delicately about, some of her favorite clothes are her “butterfly shirts,” and we’re getting ready to add decals of the dainty insects to her bedroom walls.
Suffice it to say, we have been looking forward to the “Wings of Fancy” exhibit at Brookside Gardens for awhile now. We would have visited earlier this summer had I not been waiting for Owen’s schedule to open up, so he could join us. Because even though a garden full of butterflies is the stuff Sasha’s fanciful dreams are made of, it’s also an enthralling sight for a nature lover like my boy. The timing actually worked out quite well, because Certifikid just debuted a deal for the exhibit, so we saved a few bucks on our outing, too.
We finally headed over to Brookside and the butterflies this afternoon and it was truly worth the wait. Our visit started with an intro in the Caterpillar Room, where a staff member pointed out a few real caterpillars on plants, then showed us pictures of the butterflies they would become. From there, we entered the conservatory, where the first thing out of Sasha’s mouth was that squeal: “Look, butterflies!” Indeed.
Nearly 20 species of butterflies from North America, Central America, and Asia fluttered around us and the colorful flowers and plants throughout the greenhouse. We walked around every inch of it, trying to spot a species we hadn’t seen yet, watching them reveal different patterns as they opened their wings, and just staring in amazement at the sheer number of them.
Sasha liked looking for her favorite “pink and yellow” butterfly, while Owen kept hoping one would land on him. We stopped by a station where they could hold specimens that were no longer alive (staff told us they’re sterilized) and examine them through magnifying glasses. There are also cases containing cocoons, and when those butterflies hatch they’ll be released into the garden; we learned that a butterfly life is about two weeks long, so there is constant “turnover.”
It’s pretty hot inside the exhibit, they say about 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. This eventually took its toll, and we made our way out after about 30 minutes. But that wasn’t the end of our Brookside visit. We wandered the lovely grounds and, of course, had to stop by the Children’s Garden, where the kids played in the treehouse and hollowed out tree trunk/gnome hut.
And we can’t go to Brookside without stopping by the turtle pond. The geese were hanging out, and they must be so used to people they let the kids get pretty close.
From the gazebo over the pond, we watched the turtles and fish swim below, spotting all three snapping turtles (a small, medium, and large one) and many other kinds.
A lovely afternoon, to say the least. We left feeling all aflutter.
Brookside Gardens is located at 1800 Glenallan Avenue in Wheaton, Md. Grounds are open daily from sunset to sundown. The Visitor Center is open from 9am -5pm, the conservatories from 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.
“Wings of Fancy” is running through September 16. Hours are 10am – 4pm, but be sure to make sure it’s open before you go, as it has closed early on very hot days. Admission is $6/adults, $4/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under. Certifikid currently has a deal for weekday admission for one adult and one child for $6.