April 22, 2016 at 11:37 am EDT | by Valerie Blake
Sunshine, freedom and a little flower
flowers, spring, gay news, Washington Blade

Looking at colorful flowers can improve your disposition and have a calming effect.

Danish author Hans Christian Andersen once said, “Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”  Now that we finally have the winter of our discontent (thank you, John Steinbeck) behind us and the sunshine above us, we can seek a little flower in our lives.

For me, landscaping is a necessary evil. I learned early on to write a bi-weekly check so I could enjoy the fruits and flora of someone else’s labor, but whether you have a garden of geraniums, a profusion of peonies, or just a basket of begonias, looking at colorful flowers can improve your disposition and have a calming effect, so put some of these upcoming events on your calendar to get your floral fix this season.

Learn to simplify your outdoor space with perennial garden expert Kerry Ann Mendez at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, take the Old Town Garden Tour, or drink tea while visiting homes of Georgetown on April 23. Stop by the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland on either April 23 or 24 to purchase a variety of herbs and plants.

Celebrate Earth Day with a festival at Brookside Gardens in Silver Spring on the April 24 or by volunteering to remove invasive plants, re-planting others and sprucing up D.C.’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens that same day. Later in the week, check out the garden tour in historic Falls Church on April 26.

Pack up the kids and the kids-at-heart and explore the Wings of Fancy Live Butterfly and Caterpillar Exhibit from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at Brookside Gardens from April 27-Sept. 25.

Feel the need to hug a tree?  Join the Arbor Day Fest in celebration of urban sustainability at the National Arboretum on April 29 from 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. then come back on the April 30 for their garden fair and plant sale.

Your choices of activities abound on April 30. Visit the Greenhouse at the Franciscan Monastery, attend the Urban Gardening Expo in Silver Spring, view the Blossoms and Battles Photo Safari at Mount Vernon, or take the House and Garden Tour in Hollin Hills, a Charles Goodman mid-century modern community in Alexandria.

Spend May Day in Derwood, Md., at the University of Maryland’s Grow it Eat it Spring Open House. Take a class in vegetable gardening, composting and more. Learn proper pruning techniques and take part in a seed exchange with fellow gardeners before heading to Takoma Park for its House and Garden Tour.

Treat out-of-town guests to the National Cathedral Flower Mart from May 6-7 and, while seeing the sights on the Mall, be sure to visit the Smithsonian Garden Fest beginning on May 6, with weekly tours available through October.

Nosy neighbors among us will enjoy the Georgetown Garden Tour on May 7. The Capitol Hill House and Garden Tour, a traditional Mother’s Day weekend favorite, features a twilight walking tour on May 7 from 4-7 p.m. and a daylight version during the afternoon of the May 8.

The World Bonsai Festival at the National Arboretum offers demonstrations, exhibits and workshops from May 13-15, or make plans to go to the Arboretum on May 14 to take a Bonsai for beginners class from 10 a.m. until noon.

Also on May 14 the Spring Plant Sale at Green Spring Gardens, held from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., features more than three-dozen garden vendors. Rounding out May, the communities of Columbia Heights and Shepherd Park offer walking tours of their homes and gardens on the May 22.

Still yearning for garden greenery in June and beyond?  The Horticulture Society of Maryland and the D.C. neighborhood of Brookland present their annual tours on June 5 and you can tap your feet to Jazz in the Garden performances in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden each Friday evening from May 27-Sept. 2.

Finally, if you haven’t had your fill of sunshine and flowers by summer’s end, then you’re welcome to come on over to my new house. I have a quarter of an acre lot that I’ll let you landscape for free.

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