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10 Magnificent Secret Gardens In DC

Washington DC comes alive in the springtime with blooms galore.  The gardens in DC are plentiful, beautiful and for the majority FREE.  Depending on the time of year different flora bloom in each of these DC gardens and the blooms can range from beautiful cherry blossoms in early spring to a sea of color with tulips in late spring.  If you are a fan of cherry blossom season by the Tidal Basin you will love these gardens as they are usually uncrowded and offer the same beautiful scenery.

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Enid A. Haupt Garden in DC 

Located between Independence Ave. and the Smithsonian Castle Enid A. Haupt Garden is my favorite garden in DC for magnolias!  The saucer magnolias bloom here just before cherry blossom season in Washington DC.  It literally is a sea of beautiful pink blooming trees.  And what truly makes this DC garden magical?  Well there’s a CASTLE!  The Smithsonian Castle surrounded by all the pink magnolias is one of the most stunning in Washington DC, I daresay it may even be more picturesque than the cherry blossoms at the tidal basin. 

When the saucer magnolias go into full bloom and the weather is nice it can get a bit crowded on a weekend, but there is still plenty of room to walk around.  This garden is very child and stroller friendly.  Our toddler loved running around The Moon Gate.  This DC garden is completely free so go enjoy the magical blooming trees in spring!

Best Time to Visit Enid A. Haupt Garden

My favorite time to visit this DC garden is when the beautiful pink saucer magnolias are in full bloom.  This usually happens just before the cherry blossoms bloom around the Tidal Basin in DC, usually around mid-March.  

Update:  The magnolias at Enid A. Haupt Garden in DC will peak bloom this weekend March 23 – 24!  Magnolias are rather delicate so peak bloom tends to not last very long especially if we have any winds for rain, or even unusually warm weather!  So go see them if you can!

Location of Enid A. Haupt Garden

12 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20219

How to get to Enid A. Haupt Garden

Enid A. Haupt Garden is metro accessible and the closest metros station is off of the blue, orange, and silver line.  Driving here is pretty easy with metered parking available at L’Enfant Plaza SW.  On the weekend the parking here does get a bit crowded so you may want to go early.  

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Peony Field and Garden at Seneca Creek Park in Maryland

Just as the tulips and wisteria are fading, the peonies start to bloom in the DC area and there’s no better place to see them than Seneca Creek Park in Maryland.  There’s actually no other garden quite like this display of peonies in this area.  There’s both a formal garden of peonies and also a field of peonies.  If you’ve seen my posts on fields of sunflowers, this field of peonies is just as stunning because I’ve never seen except at this location.  Very few people know about this field of peonies and I only found out about it from my neighbors so you can expect basically no crowds here.  The scent of peonies hang heavy in the air here and you will want to breathe it all in!  Peak bloom for these peonies in Maryland is mid to late May.

Location of Peony Field at Seneca Creek Park

The peony field and garden are located next to each inside the Park.  Enter the park through the Clopper road entrance and you will see signs pointing you to the field.  There is plenty of free parking on the grass across from the field.

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Brookside Gardens in Maryland

Brookside Gardens is located just slightly outside of DC in Wheaton Maryland.  This stunning 50 Acre garden is award winning and there’s no surprise why.  Often used as a wedding venue the gardens are kept in immaculate condition.  My favorite blooms to see here?  The tulips!  Having been disappointed by the tulips at Burnside Farm, the tulips are always spectacular at Brookside Gardens.  

In addition to the tulips, the wisteria and azaleas also make a grand showing around the same time as the tulips at this DC garden, not to mention the willow cherry blossom tree that stands next to the Japanese tea house.

The best part about Brookside is that it is completely free to enter. In addition to the magnificent gardens, Brookside has a cute children’s garden and play area with faux kitchen, car and a child-sized house.  Brookside is definitely a great place for adults and kids!

There is also a butterfly exhibit which has a fee:  $8 ages 13+; $5 ages 3-12; Free ages 0-2.

Best Time to Visit Brookside Gardens

Spring time is my favorite time and one of the best times to visit Brookside Gardens.  When it’s cherry blossom season, there is a huge willowy cherry blossom tree next the Japanese tea house.  Following the cherry blossoms, there is a perfect display of tulips in April.  At the same time the wisteria and the azalea will also be in bloom.  As soon as the tulips are gone, Brookside becomes a haven of roses in May.  So really from April to May/June is the best time to visit Brookside Gardens.

Brookside Gardens Location & Parking

1800, Visitors Center, Glenallan Ave, Wheaton, MD 20902

Brookside Garden has plenty of free parking and I’ve never known it to be crowded on a weekend unless there is an event. 

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UPDATE:  As of April 29, 2019, the tulips are mostly done here but the wisteria is blooming beautifully!  I had gone all the way down to Washington DC in hopes of finding some wisteria still blooming, but it’s all gone there.  The wisteria at Brookside Garden however is perfect!

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Update as of 5/21/2019 the roses are pretty much in full bloom at Brookside Garden and it does smell amazing!!  See pictures below. 

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Rawlins Park in DC

Rawlins Park is not technically a garden, but one of the many green spaces in Washington DC.  With plenty of benches and shade, it’s a great spot for a short break in the city.  I added Rawlins Park to the list of must see gardens in DC because in spring it turns into a magical forest of pink in late March.  All the trees in Rawlins Park are saucer magnolia trees and form the most gorgeous awning.  

Location of Rawlins Park

1900 E St NW, Washington, DC 20415

How to Get to Rawlins Park

The closest metros stations to Rawlins Park are Farragut West on the Orange, Blue, and Silver line and Farragut North on the Red line.  Both stops are 6 to 7 blocks walking distance from Rawlins Park. 

National Arboretum

The National Arboretum consists of 446 acres with 9.5 miles of winding roadways through stunning wild gardens.  Because of the large area and large variety of trees and flora at the National Arboretum, there is almost always something blooming here, making it one of the perfect gardens in DC to visit in all 4 seasons.  Springtime is obviously a great time to visit here, as there is literally a forest of cherry and plum trees without any of the crowds found around the Tidal Basin.  These cherry trees vary in species so they don’t bloom at the same time as the Tidal Basin Yoshino Cherry Trees, making it a perfect alternative if you don’t catch the cherry blossoms there.  

Additionally, there’s a garden of magnificent magnolias for all your frolicking goals.  In the fall the meadow in front of the Capital Columns turns into a field of gold and purple unlike any gardens in DC.  The National Arboretum is the perfect DC garden to spend an afternoon in.  If you visit I would suggest downloading the National Arboretum app to help navigate through the gardens and find out what’s blooming so you are not driving around aimlessly.

National Arboretum Location

3501 New York Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20002

The National Arboretum is not really metro accessible.  I would definitely drive here as there is ample parking.


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Rockville Civic Center Glenview Mansion Formal Gardens in Maryland

Glenview Mansion at Rockville Civic Center is a surprising hidden gem of a garden.  This popular wedding venue sits on 28 acres and has a formal garden complete with intimate fountain, stone archways, and flagstone walkways and stairs.  If you ever want to see a tunnel of Kwanzan cherry blossoms in the spring this is the place to do it!  Saucer magnolias also bloom magnificently here! 

Best Time to Visit Glenview Mansion Gardens

The best time to visit this garden just outside DC is in spring when the Kwanzan cherry blossoms bloom in mid to late April.  There are stunning bright pink trees all over this property during that time and even the road leading up to the garden is lined with pink trees.  Summer is also a lovely time to visit as the garden is very lush and green.  Glenview is a very popular wedding venue so if you try to come during spring on a weekend it will almost always be booked for a private event.  There is also plenty of free parking.

Location and Hours 

603 Edmonston Drive
Rockville, MD 20851

The outdoors areas are open sunrise to sundown unless there it’s been booked for a private event.  I’ve gone in the afternoons during the weekday with no problems, but during spring and summer, I would bet this place will be booked for a wedding and closed off. 

My pink convertible dress available here.

Book a Photo Session

Interested in capturing stunning photos at the sunflower fields?  Book a session with me today!  I specialize in family, newborn, maternity, and portrait photography.  Capture real smiles at picture-perfect locations!  Space is limited.

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America Gardens

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land Gardens has an old-world European feel.  This garden in DC reminds me of something you would find in the middle of Italy or Spain with its warm colors.  If terracotta roofs and stunning chapel ceilings are on your wishlist than this is the perfect garden in DC for your visit.  Take a slow stroll through the cloisters and inhale in the perfume of more than 1,000 roses that bloom in this DC garden.  This is another free garden to visit in DC and free garden tours are offered Saturdays, April-September, 11 a.m. and noon. 

Location of the Franciscan Monastery

1400 Quincy St NE, Washington, DC 20017

There is plenty of free parking available from the Monastery located just across the street.

Hillwood Estate Gardens

Hillwood Estate is one of the most stunning gardens in DC that resembles the children’s story The Secret Garden.  With beautifully shaped hedges surrounded by delicate blooms this garden truly exudes a country ambience.  But not to worry, for those looking for a more formal garden, the French parterre fits the bill with low plantings divided by footpaths and surrounded by walls of English ivy.  Hillwood Estate is technically a free garden, but they do encourage donations.  The property is also designed to be a 4 season garden so there’s always something in bloom here.

Hillwood Estate Gardens Location & Hours

4155 Linnean Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20008

Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


US Botanical Garden

The US Botanical Garden and Conservatory is a wonderful garden in DC to visit all year around.  It is one of the few gardens that is one of the best places to visit in DC during winter and Christmas because they host a special train exhibit.  The Conservatory is the star of these gardens with the Garden Court containing some pretty fountains.  

Location of US Botanical Gardens

100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001

National Cathedral Bishop’s Garden

Another one of the stunning gardens in DC with an old-world feel, Bishop’s Garden at the National Cathedral has beautiful blooms, lovely stone walkways and the grand National Cathedral as a backdrop.  What could make for a more beautiful garden in DC?  The lush greenery and colorful flowers bloom from April to November in this DC garden, making just about a 4 season garden.  Whether you are visiting with family or as a couple, be sure to pack a picnic to enjoy the wonderful smells and scenery of this amazing garden.

National Cathedral is located at 3101 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.  The National Cathedral offers a paid underground parking garage with hourly rates. 

There is an admission fee for the National Cathedral:  $12 for adults, $8 for children ages 5 to 17 and free for kids 4 and under.  If you only plan on visiting the gardens and grounds however, it is free.

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