I find new parks strange. I have been to a couple recently that made me uncomfortable but I couldn’t figure out why. They were beautiful, but something was off.
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens was farmland up until 1980 when Drs. Gardiner and Caroline Means donated it to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. It is a manicured, landscaped 95 acres with three lakes and a Korean Bell Garden. The paths are paved and there are several gazebos. Lots of photo opportunities…. for weddings. The park is 25 years old. It is new. Maybe that was what bothered me. Nothing rustic or wild about it.
The Korean American Cultural Committee donated $1 million for the Korean Bell Garden. The Bell Pavilion houses a highly decorated bell and is the centerpiece to the still emerging garden.
I was thinking back to a year ago when I was in Novia Scotia. The park we visited in the middle of Halifax was exquisite. It also was manicured, and had paved walkways. But the trees were magnificent, old, shady monsters. It felt like everything belonged there and we were of little consequence.
Not so at Meadowlark. It felt like man was imposing itself on to nature. And the thing that probably bothered me the most was the sign telling me how much the sculpture of mother and child on a bench was worth. Really? What is that about? Every plant in the place was donated by somebody and had their name on it.
The one redeeming quality this park had for me were the turtles. There were lots of turtles in the ponds and out sunning themselves. And of course I loved the big purple wedding dress!.
Maybe I will feel more comfortable with the place in another 25 years but only if they take the price tags off. It cost $5 to get in and people can rent specific gardens or gazebos for special events. Meadow lark is located at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court in Vienna, VA.
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.