coming full circle: summertime amidst virginia’s flowers

Monday, August 4: Last summer, when I first arrived back in Virginia after two years away, I visited Meadowlark Botanical Gardens around this same time, in early August: meadowlark botanical gardens & the new korean bell garden. Here I am, a year later, visiting the gardens again as I prepare to take off again to exotic lands.

I finished teaching my summer classes last Friday, and now I have a bit of a break before I go to China.  Mike and I are going on a week-long trip to Puerto Rico from August 9-16; we both could use some fun and relaxation after everything we went through in July.  It looks like I’ll be flying out from here on August 30 to get to Nanning by September 1.  Most of the rest of my time will be filled with wrapping up details here in Virginia and getting ready to go.

This morning, I take a walk through Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to see the summer flowers in Virginia one last time.  I’m sure Nanning, the capital city of subtropical Guangxi Province, will have plenty of pretty flowers of its own, so I’m not worried.  I’m sure both Puerto Rico and China will have plenty of interesting sights to see!

I begin my walk at Meadowlark at 10 a.m., as soon as they open their doors.  I’m delighted to find this sculpture has been moved closer to the entrance, and it’s now surrounded by pretty flowers.  It used to sit in a spot off the beaten path, and with no flowers around it.  I love its new home.

This sculpture has a new home.
This sculpture has a new home.

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

For practical reasons, I probably won’t be posting any more photos on this blog for quite some time.  My upgraded media storage expires on August 13, and as I’ll only be in Virginia for less than two weeks, it doesn’t make sense to renew it for now.

idyllic scene
idyllic scene

If you want to see my travels in Puerto Rico, I’ll be posting on this blog: notes from north america.

For my time in China, you can check out a blog I started when I visited Beijing in fall of 2010:  catbird in china.

I’ve heard Facebook is blocked in China, so I won’t be able to post anything on there.  I’m not even sure I’ll be able to blog.  But if I am, these places are where you’ll find me!

spring at meadowlark gardens

Thursday, May 8:  It won’t be long before summer is upon us, so I thought I’d better drop by Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna to see the spring blooms.  Here’s a little of what I found.

Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show. 🙂

a winter walk at meadowlark gardens

Tuesday, December 17:  I walk past the oversize toy soldier sentries and into Meadowlark Gardens Visitor’s Center to find the place deserted.  The front desk has a metal grate pulled over it and a sign that says someone will be back shortly.  Usually there is a fee of $5 for those over 55 or $10 for those younger, but happily no one is here to take my money. 🙂

toy soldier sentries
toy soldier sentries

I walk through the doors and out into the gardens, wondering if I’m even allowed to be here. I figure the doors are open, so I’m going.  Someone can find me later and tell me to leave, or pin me down for the fee.  Just glancing around, I can see I have almost the entire sweep of the gardens all to myself. 🙂

pavilion on a hill
pavilion on a hill

On my walk, I encounter an easy-going Ramblin Robbie, a sculpture valued at $20,000.

Ramblin Robbie, a sculpture valued at $20,000
Ramblin Robbie, a sculpture valued at $20,000

While walking, I chat by phone with my friend Jayne in San Francisco, so I have some company for a while.  She tells me she’s crossing over the new San Francisco Bay bridge and there’s fog hanging low over the bay, but the weather there is a balmy 65.  Here it’s about 36 degrees.  I’m looking forward to my trip to L.A. and San Francisco on January 2.

another sculpture at the garden
another sculpture at the garden
fuzzy winter plants
fuzzy winter plants

I walk through the fabulous Korean Bell Garden, which I wrote about in a previous post (meadowlark botanical gardens & the new korean bell garden).  That walk I took through the gardens in August was much different from today’s walk; flowers were all abloom, green was the color of the day, and it was hot, sticky and miserable.  It’s a different kind of pretty today, with the golden grasses and the crisp, cold air.  I actually prefer this kind of day for a walk.

Click on any of the images below for a full-sized slide show.

The Jeju Dolhareubang, the last picture in the gallery above, are stone-carved statues that stood on the volcanic island of Jeju.  Historically, Dolhareubang were erected at the entrances of the areas most characteristic of Jeju Island; they were meant to protect the public spaces and the surrounding villages like a guardian deity.  The Dolhareubang wards off danger and harm, while exhibiting the humorous and smiling appearance of a friendly neighborhood grandfather.

I can see the signs for the Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, which officially opened at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16. The winter wonderland of sparkling lights runs daily until Sunday, Jan. 6, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. each night. The park, off Beulah Road at 9750 Meadowlark Garden Court, is owned and managed by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

viewing chairs for the winter light show
viewing chairs for the winter light show
Sharing Stories sculpture, valued at $46,000
Sharing Stories sculpture, valued at $46,000
berries
berries
berries
berries
pavilion
pavilion
pavilion
pavilion
winter trees
winter trees
a little bit of color is still to be found
a bit of color is still to be found
dried flowers
dried flowers
more dried flowers
more dried flowers
dry, dry, dry
dry, dry, dry
ponds and reflections
ponds and reflections

I want a walk for exercise and pictures on this cold winter day, and although the gardens don’t have much blooming at this time of year, it’s still lovely to walk through the myriad trails and enjoy the brisk winter air.  I love the golden colors of the grasses and the reflections of the bare winter trees in the ponds.

reflections
reflections
ponds
ponds
Let it Snow
Let it Snow
children's twig house
children’s twig house
ponds and grasses
ponds and grasses
pond and grasses
pond and grasses
Korean totems in the Experimental Meadow
Korean totems in the Experimental Meadow
Fountain
Fountain
twig viewing pavilion
twig viewing pavilion
Green gems
Green gems
pretty in pink
pretty in pink
yellow reminders of summer
yellow reminders of summer

When I return to the Visitor’s Center, there is finally someone manning the front desk.  I take out my money to pay.  After all, I don’t want to be considered a criminal interloper.  Happily, the friendly man tells me there is no charge for the gardens during the winter months.  The charges will apply again after March 1.  I ask him about the light show, and he tells me there ARE charges for that, as outlined below.  I might have to come back one evening for that walk. 🙂

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Weekdays—Monday through Thursday—online admission fees are $12 per adult, $7 for children aged 3 to 12, and children under 3 are free.

Weekends—Friday, Saturday and Sunday—and holiday online admission fees are $13 per adult, $8 each for children 3 to 12, and children under 3 are free. Holidays include Nov. 22, Dec. 24, 25, 31, and Jan. 1. Use coupon code WINTERWALK when purchasing tickets and receive $1 off per ticket.

A limited number of walk-in tickets may be available at $14 per adult, $9 per child aged 3 to 12, and free for children under 3.

Light refreshments, from hot chocolate to sweets, will be sold throughout the illuminations season from a tent on the grounds. A firepit burns for warming and for roasting marshmallows.

For details, see www.winterwalkoflights.com or phone 703-255-3631. (The Connection: Walk of Lights at Meadowlark)

 

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