Explore Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

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When you’re in Northern Virginia, make time to explore Meadowlark Botanical Gardens and the Korean Bell Garden in Vienna. With 95 acres of ornamental display gardens, unique native plant collections, a kids garden and the Korean Bell Garden, there’s so much to see. Come for a few hours, or spend the whole day!

Entrance to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens with tickets, restrooms and shop indoors.

I stopped in for a quick visit between raindrops before heading home from a Northern Virginia road trip. I planned to take a quick tour of the highlights. But, the rain held off and I ended up staying a lot longer. It’s a beautiful place!

Potomac Valley Native Plant Collection

Off to the left, the Potomac Valley Native Plant Collection is a quiet, shaded trail through native plants of the Northern Virginia area. Plants and trees are labeled making it easy to learn about the plants of the region. If you live in the area, this is a great spot to see native plants you might want for your home garden.

Wooden bridge through a woodland garden with leaves on the path.

Interactive Garden for Children

After passing through the native garden, you’ll come across a few different garden areas, including the interactive children’s garden.

This adorable garden has raised garden beds, which bring plants to kids’ eye level. Wind spinners and fun planters, like the cute garden bucket flower guy next to the sign in the photo below, add imaginative humor to the displays. There’s also a play area with kids’ toys to dig and create.

Entrance to the kids garden at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens featuring bright flowers and a fun, circular entrance area.

When I was there, a few moms and their kids were in the play area. I did not have permission to take all their photos, so I don’t have one to show you in this post. BUT, it does show how popular the area is! On a rainy day, three families still found their way to the park.

Lakeside Trail at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

After the interactive garden for children, the trail meanders through some trees and between two small lakes. With lots of seating, the lakes are a great place to watch the birds who love calling this park home.

As you can see, I visited just before peak fall season as the leaves were just beginning to turn. If you want to see fall foliage, plan to visit the last week of October!

I am not a big fan of goldenrod, but I know the bees and the butterflies love it. So, I guess I’m glad they allowed this naturalized area along the water’s edge.

Daylily Garden

I did not visit during daylily season, which is from May to September in Virginia, but I love the idea of Meadowlark Botanical Garden’s Daylily Garden so much, I plan to recreate a piece of it at home! The daylily garden includes each of the annual daylily award winners going back decades! Yes, there are that many different kinds of daylilies!

I took photos of the daylilies from the years each member of our family was born and the year we got married. I will be planting them along the edge of my raised bed vegetable garden to soften the hardscape and to attract pollinators to my garden.

And, that’s one of the things I loved most at Meadowlark — there were so many creative ideas that even novice home gardeners can add to their own gardens.

Korean Bell Garden

Probably the biggest draw at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is the Korean Bell Garden.

The Korean bell, which weighs in at three tons, was created by Korean artisans and features animals and plants native to Korea and Virginia. It’s a beautiful bell in an incredibly peaceful setting.

The bell isn’t the only magnificent piece. The pavilion is also built in traditional Korean style without using nails! Each piece of wood is designed to fit into the others to support the bell. The roof tiles, too, are made of clay, also traditionally Korean.

The Korean Bell Garden features other traditional Korean structures, like the flower wall. The images on the flower wall represent the four seasons. And, not pictured here, don’t miss the Jeju Dolhareubang, the “stone grandfathers,” made of volcanic basalt who welcome visitors to the Korean Bell Garden.

Kids will enjoy the Korean traditional totem poles, called “Jamgseung,” which originally were built to protect Korean villages against evil spirits and other disasters. They were worshipped by local citizens as village guardian dieties. They are always built in pairs, a male and a female. The Korean Bell Garden has two pairs to protect the garden.

Plan your visit to Meadowlark

As you explore the gardens at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, there’s even more to see. The rhino statue is just one example of the surprises to discover. Look for the old log cabin, seasonal flower gardens, and other sculptures. Take a break at one of the many sheltered seating areas in the park, some nestled in among the trees, and others under cover along the lakeshore.

When I was there, I even saw a wedding at the gazebo in the woods! I tiptoed quickly past so I wouldn’t disturb the happy couple.

Most of the park is wheelchair accessible, though a few paths are not — and they are clearly marked. The wet leaves made the trail slippery in places, which is a consideration when visiting in fall just after it rains!

Admission information:

  • Hours: November-March, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission at 3:30). April-October, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last admission at 6:30).
  • Tickets: For children ages 6-17 and adults over age 55, admission is $4. For adults 18-54, admission is $8.
  • Address: 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna VA 22182. It’s in a residential area, so watch for families walking and biking nearby!

And, dog lovers, your well-behaved pet is welcome on the first and third Wednesdays of the month for Pup Day in the Garden. Dog admission is $6, and owners must sign a liability form to bring their dog to the park.

Special Events at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Throughout the year, special events at the gardens make it even more special.

  • Winter Walk of Lights: From Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, animated light show which is wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly. It’s one of the most popular attractions at the park. Check the website for hours and admission prices. 
  • Roving Naturalist Program: Throughout the year, special programs to highlight what’s popular at the park during that season, provide an opportunity to go deeper. There are photography programs, like photographing the cherry blossoms in March and the Virginia Bluebells in April. In winter, winter walks highlight the activity in the garden during the winter season. There are birding programs and even a program about salamanders! Register for these special events (extra fee required) on the website.
  • Cherry blossoms! While a family vacation to Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms might be the most popular place to go, the cherry blossom display at the botanical gardens certainly rivals it. The cherry trees near the lakes and the Korean Bell Garden provide all the beauty of the trees in Washington, but without the crowds!

FAQs: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Is outside food and drink allowed at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens?

No outside food or drink is allowed within the fenced garden area. There is a picnic pavilion outside the fence near the lilac garden where families can enjoy a picnic lunch.

When is the best time to visit Meadowlark Botanical Gardens?

The gardens are open year-round, providing four season interest. The most popular times to visit are spring (late April to early June) when spring plants are flowering and temperatures are pleasant and fall (October) when the leaves change color. In summer, visit early in the day to see the most animal activity and to beat the heat.

Does Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have cherry blossoms?

There are cherry blossoms near the lakes and near the Korean Bell Garden at Meadowlark. With fewer crowds, this is a great alternative to the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC.