"Garden of Lights" brightens the holidays

Dec. 23, 2003, midnight | By Caitlin Garlow | 17 years ago

Brookside Gardens annual exhibit wows visitors

It's a miracle. In mid-December the Brookside Gardens in Wheaton are in full bloom. Lush bunches of grapes hang from the arbors. Large bountiful flowers bloom on the trees. Woodland creatures have emerged from their warm winter beds. And a beautiful rainbow has emerged following a light shower.

A light bulb shower to be exact. The "Garden of Lights" Winter Garden Walk at Brookside Gardens has amazed visitors again this year with its fantastic display of about 620,000 tiny sparkling light bulbs.

Visitors begin the 40-minute walk by strolling under a giant caterpillar entrance way. Thousands of colored lights outline the cylinder, blinking on and off to create the illusion of a moving insect. After emerging, white-tailed deer positioned in a "sun-lit" glen move their heads, as if in acknowledgement of the on-lookers. Other creatures make appearances along the wood-chipped paths. Oversized ants and dragonflies and a snail and a praying mantis are favorites of many children.

Crossing in the gardens, a visitor can expect to see the water fountains spouting silver streams of water into azure pools. Sunflowers, wisteria, and poinsettias are all in bloom, though each flowers in a different season. Skunks, squirrels, swans and a monkey also emerge along the trail.

The most advanced technology can be seen in the creation of the rainstorm. Three fluffy clouds pour sheets of rain, while large bolts of lightning illuminate the glen. Loud thunder and other sound affects roar in the distance, and as if to compensate, a 20-foot rainbow arches over the storm, soothing any frightened child. Another technological feat is seen in the creation of the flying cardinal. With about ten different forms, a cardinal can be spotted moving from tree to tree across the pathway.

Once the walk is complete, cold hands and red noses is a guarantee. Many visitors choose to warm their hands with a cup of hot chocolate or cider and enjoy other snacks in the Visitors Center while listening to an orchestra. The conservatory also houses a holiday exhibit.

The Brookside Garden winter light show is a fantastic holiday activity for the whole family, creating a wonderland with over 20 nature exhibits. Truly "the ultimate magical visual experience," every Montgomery Country resident should make a point to see "The Garden of Lights" at least once.

The Brookside Gardens "Garden of Lights" Winter Walk is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until January 11. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., and the last car is admitted at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15 dollars on weekends, and $10 on weeknights per car. For more information visit http://www.mc-mncppc.org/Parks/brookside/light.shtm

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Caitlin Garlow. Caitlin is a second-semester senior at last. Her favorite things include making fun of her homeless sister and hunting down her clothes in other people's closets. More »

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