Gardiner Means and Caroline Ware were, among other things, lifelong environmentalists. They bought the 74-acre farm that forms the core of Meadowlark in 1935. By the late 1970's, the couple were nearing the ends of their lives and wanted to preserve their beloved farm.
The land was entrusted to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA). They purchased a neighboring 21-acre parcel and began planning what was to become Meadowlark Botanical Gardens.
The stunning property is the picture of Virginia Piedmont, with large hills, small streams, forested hollows, and expansive views. The NVRPA added gazebos, walking trails, three lakes, and endless variety of temperate plants, trees, and shrubs.
Visiting the Gardens
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens' 95 acres include ornamental display gardens and unique native plants. You'll see collections of hosta, lilacs, daylilies, ornamental cherry trees, Siberian iris, azalea, and more.
Wildlife is everywhere, especially where the trails meander along the lakes and forested areas. There are colorful koi to watch but more importantly also wild frogs, birds, and others. It is not uncommon to see turtles basking in the sun or a great blue heron stalking a lake's shallows.
The gardens are beautiful all year 'round and present a different side each season. Spring and especially summer see a riot of colors but don't discount autumn and winter. The gardens' website offers a guide to the each season's highlights.
You’ll also see a variety of sculptures, from artists around the country, here and there around the garden. Most of the art is part of a rotating Art Naturally Exhibit, though a few pieces are permanent.
Korean Bell Garden
The Bell of Peace and Harmony is located under a hand-built pagoda at the heart of the garden. The bell was cast in South Korea by one of the best bell makers in Korea, using ancient, traditional methods. The bell's surface features traditional Korean images, as well as images symbolic of Virginia.
The Korean Bell Garden also contains many Korean monuments and statues, as well as walls and stone structures adorned with traditional Korean symbols.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna, VA 22182
Stop by the Gardens' Visitor Center if it's your first visit. You can learn about the gardens, collect a map, see the exhibits, and browse the gift shop.
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