Vibrant Vienna

Should you find yourself in Northern Virginia, a couple of hours outside of Staunton on the cusp of Washington DC, make sure to take time to visit the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna.

Finding ourselves in town recently for a Bonnie Raitt concert at Wolf Trap, we did a Google search for other activities to check out in the area, and stumbled on this 95-acre ornamental and native park playland. Unlike its show-offy Wolf Trap sister park, with its obvious commercial success and rolling grounds, these gardens seem to be a more understated, albeit well-mannered sibling with class, and yet great “ooh and aah” factor.

Lush grounds and easy to navigate paths.

The air conditioned visitors center built in 1992 includes some aquarium displays and computer-based interactive exhibits on various garden collections. But don’t waste your time inside, as the beautifully manicured paths, and surprises around every corner offer a photographer’s delight. A favorite for wedding party pics with its gazeboed pond and vibrant wildlife, it’s a perfect respite for formal and informal strolls.

The park is managed by NOVA Park, which oversees parks across the Northern Virginia area, ably assisted by a team of volunteers. For a mere $3 fee, we were released to wander the pathways and wonders of the gorgeous grounds which includes a Korean Bell Garden, complete with an enormous serenity bell.

Ducks rule the pond areas, and so tread cautiously as you meander around their home near the water. Bullfrogs, turtles and other aquatic creatures have nested in the water features, providing “banjo string” sound effects and small splashes. As they say, a picture is worth… well, you know, so this post ends with a few thousand words worth of additional imagery.

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