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My nephew is very interest in new, classic & antique cars. I decided to search for a car show in the Harford County area and I came upon the Ladew Topiary Gardens. A topiary garden right here in Harford County! I’ve never been to one and I was very excited to take a look. When we first arrived we could see all the cars lined up in the front of the garden. We were then directed into the gift shop where you must get a sticker for the day. Like I said, I’ve never been to a topiary garden so for the first time I PAID to get into a garden. I could have paid $10 for myself and $8 for my nephew to get in for the day OR $35 for an individual yearly membership to enter the park with a guest. The membership includes FREE admission to the house, garden & nature walk. You also get discounts, notifications on events and a newsletter twice a year. Other memberships ranged from $65 to $1000 with more to offer but I  chose the individual membership. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it but as long as I came back once more it would have been worth it for the price. After my purchase, I was handed a couple of pamphlets which included a map and off we went.

We started with a look around the car show since that was the main reason for this. On display at the entrance of the garden was over 25 antique & classic vehicles from automakers throughout the United States and Europe. The owners were very nice about allowing you to take pictures as well as telling you a little about the vehicles.

An hour or so later we entered the garden. As we walked through one of the many entrances I felt like I was walking through a scene of the Secret Garden. This place was made up of several smaller gardens. We would enter through one area to view the colorful unfamiliar plants to then enter another almost entirely different dreamy scene. To make the park more educational, a lot of the plants are labeled but some of the were hard to see because of overgrowth. There are fountains and ponds all nicely placed to take you on an interesting journey. We even saw fish, frogs, birds and butterflies. If you are ever in the Harford County area, you should stop by. It’s definitely an adventure.

If you are going to visit Irvine Nature Center, make sure you have your hiking shoes. I thought it was just a FREE nature park but I found out it is so much more. I arrive at 11am sharp, nicely dressed with my capris and flip flops on, which I later regret wearing. I was greeted at the nature center’s main building by a friendly gentleman who told me about the facility. Irvine has been around for 35 years but only 3 years at this location. He directed me over to a large map of the area pointing out some highlights of the park like the Raptor Aviary & the Wildlife Blind.  To our right was the gift shop and to my left was a small educational animal center. I was also informed that there are activities throughout the year and today was my lucky day. There was a nature walk at 12pm that I could participate in. It’s FREE to members and a whooping $2.00 to non-members. I walked around the facility and I was becoming impressed. They have various small animals on display like snakes, turtles & birds along with a few interactive displays that the kids would like.

By the time I completed my walk around the Nature Center main building I was ready for my walk around the nature center trails so I declined the nature walk and the nice gentleman handed me a map (which he asked that I return at the end of my walk to conserve paper) and pointed me to the start of the trail. Every step I took I became more and more excited to walk further. I came upon the Raptor Aviary where I saw an owl, a wildlife blind where I saw the first of many chipmunks and the gazebo where there is a spectacular view.

I walked up one trail and down another, taking numerous pictures in between. And an hour and a half later I still wasn’t able to finish the entire park.  I walked back into the nature center building with a sense of defeat. I was tired. I returned my map and headed home. I will definitely return to the Irvine Nature Center. And next time, I will be prepared!

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