Meadowlark located near Tysons Corner just beyond Washington’s beltway, is an island of rare natural beauty. The garden belongs to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). This is a public garden with a difference and adds luster to the NVRPA’s many parks in Northern Virginia.
The Meadowlark Botanical Garden started out as a farm owned by Gardinar Means and Caroline Ware. The owners were in Washington assisting in the implementation of FDR’s New Deal. Growing increasingly involved in the life in the Capital, they bought the farm as a weekend retreat in 1935. In 1980 they gifted the farm to NVRPA in order to “create a permanence in the land…a way by which the farm could remain a haven for trees, shrubs and flowers to preserve the bounty of the Virginia country side.” Their beautiful gift has grown to become a public garden and a star of the NVRPA. It is committed to conservation, education and community service. Meadowlark officially became the Meadowlark Botanical Garden in 2001.
The entrance to the park is through the visitor center which artfully screens the garden from public view. Once inside, the view opens out to the garden. The landscape unfolds to reveal the garden’s 3 lakes surrounded by cherry trees, a picturesque gazebo, a fountain, and a delightful little bridge. The park has all the elements needed for great scenic impact – rolling hills, grassy meadows, lakes and fountains, and lots of flowers. These elements are carefully blended together in a harmonious and natural way. It is all exquisitely arranged to give the garden an air of subdued elegance.
For the first time visitor stepping through the doors, the initial view comes as a surprise – a really pleasant one. To find this scene of peace and tranquility in such close proximity to the frenetic bustle and clamor of Washington’s noisy beltway is unexpected. It has a soothing and calming effect. There is something here to please everyone. The garden covers a diversity of flowers, plants and trees. Among the plant collections Hostas, Daylilies, Azaleas, Siberian Irises, and Peonies are some of the many species that contribute to the color and beauty of the displays. . A scenic walk path winds through the garden’s many displays. Children have their tea garden. They also have a separate area by the lake where they learn and play.
Meadowlark hosts 3 native plant collections: the Potomac Valley Collection, Virginia Native Trees & Virginia Native Wetlands which serve to introduce visitors to native plants and the environment they need for survival. The Boy Scouts have contributed over 2000 hours to work on the Potomac Valley Collection. Volunteers continue to support the gardens and their work has been important both in caring for the garden as well as contributing to its growth.
Meadowlark has a busy floral calendar. From the bounteous profusion of spring, the garden progresses through the flowering of the many theme gardens through the year. The garden itself also grows from year to year. Plants and trees planted in prior years reach maturity to blossom and add to the garden’s wealth of color. This is a landscape that is enriched each year.
Meadowlark is also a teaching garden and conducts classes and workshops to advance horticulture. The garden offers training opportunities at different levels. Camp Grow is a weeklong camp for children in grades 2 to 4. The camp teaches children about the natural world and to the beauty of the Meadowlark garden. Meadowlark also offers tours. The birding tour introduces visitors to the many birds seen in the gardens. Also popular are the garden’s wildflower recognition and appreciation walks.
Meadowlark’s role in the conservation of native species has been recognized by the Washington DC Academy of Sciences.
Meadowlark is an important venue for social events of the community. The Visitors Center which opened in 1992 has a vaulted ceiling and a beautiful fireplace. The space may be rented outside of work hours for gatherings. The center has a gift shop, library, and nature displays. The atrium which opened in 1992 is a prized location for weddings and events. With its large, beautiful sky light and aquatic garden it offers an elegant backdrop for weddings and other events. The atrium is equipped to provide a full range of services. The atrium has hosted a nature photography exhibition annually which has been a major photography event for the DC area.
Location: Meadowlark is located on Beulah Road off Route 7.
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, VA 22182 Tel: (703) 255-3631.