Green Spring Gardens is beloved by people of all ages and walks of life. Parents bring their children to explore the Children’s Garden and watch the wildlife at the ponds, older ones come to stroll on the path around the lawn or to enjoy a serene moment on a favorite bench, gardeners and plant lovers visit the demonstration gardens in search of ideas and best practices, and families and small groups of friends gather for picnics. With so many wonderful things to do in the gardens, it often surprises people to learn that there are also a few things that they should not do. As a public garden, Green Spring Gardens has rules that differ from the rules at other Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) parks. This article explains the unique rules that apply to a public garden and what we can all do to protect this special place.
Please Leave Balls, Frisbees, and Other Sporting Equipment at Home. The central lawn may seem like the perfect place to kick a ball around or play an impromptu game of Frisbee. However, Green Spring Gardens is home to many unique and protected plants that can easily be damaged if the equipment used in these activities goes astray. Some of Green Spring’s plants are even part of a national plant collection accredited by the American Public Gardens Association Plant Collections Network — so Green Spring Gardens is actually a living museum.
Please Do Not Bring Kites, Balloons, or Other Flying Objects. On a windy day, the central lawn may seem like the perfect place to fly a kite, and balloons are a popular prop for outdoor events or photography sessions. However, Green Spring Gardens has unique and protected trees that could easily be harmed by a kite or balloon getting tangled in branches. It can be very difficult, even dangerous, for staff to get a kite or balloon out of a tree, and tree branches often get snapped and broken in the process. Balloons and kites are usually not allowed at FCPA parks for similar reasons.
Please Do Not Ride Bicycles or Scooters on the Walkways. The flat walkway around the central lawn may seem like the perfect place for kids to ride their scooters or practice bike riding, however, the walkway is meant for pedestrian use only. It makes the central part of the gardens accessible to all. It is common to see wheelchairs rolling or seniors walking on the path. Keeping bikes and scooters off the path ensures that everyone on the walkway feels safe and prevents potential collisions.
Please Do Not Gather Flowers, Seeds, or Fruits. Green Spring has an Edible Garden and several spots dedicated to seasonal blooms. It may be tempting to pick fruits or vegetables or to gather flowers for a vase at home. Again, because the plants and trees are the masterpieces of the living museum that is Green Spring Gardens, we ask visitors to leave all flowers, seeds, fruits, and vegetables where they are. It is our desire for everyone to have a chance to enjoy looking at everything that grows in the gardens.
Please Keep Dogs Leashed. The central lawn and grassy area behind the Historic House may seem like a great place to let your pup run free for a bit, especially when there aren’t many other people walking the gardens. However, in order to abide by Fairfax County leash laws and to protect the plants and garden beds, it is important for dogs to be on a leash at all times.
Do Not Feed or Touch the Wildlife. Green Spring Gardens is not only home to a variety of plants, but also a variety of animals. We can protect them by not feeding them, since doing so not only makes wildlife dependent on humans, but can actually be very dangerous for them. (See this article about the Fairfax County Geese-Management Program.) If you think you’ve found an injured or orphaned animal, do not touch it. Instead, inform Green Spring Gardens staff or call Fairfax County Animal Protection Police. (See Injured and Orphaned Wildlife.) Also, fishing and swimming/wading are not allowed at the Green Spring ponds, and children should never be allowed to chase or throw things at local wildlife.
Everyone Can Play a Part in Protecting Green Spring Gardens
Green Spring Gardens is truly a unique and special place, and we want everyone to have an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful public garden. We thank our visitors for following these special rules, because they help to protect our living museum—now and in the years to come. We look forward to seeing you in the gardens!
Author Laura Strecker is the Adult Education Assistant at Green Spring Gardens.