A discussion of three Maryland gardens that includes Brighton Dam Azalea Garden in Brookville, Maryland; Schwartz Peony Garden in Gaithersburg, Maryland; and The Dahlia Garden in Derwood, Maryland.

I love a big garden with themed sections and seemingly every plant imaginable, but there is also something to be said for small, specialty gardens focusing on one specific type of plant or flower. A specialized garden really lets you appreciate the wide variety to be found within one species, and perhaps to fully fall in love with a certain flower. Below are three such specialty gardens in the suburbs of Maryland, so you can explore these semi-secret, under-the-radar spots. They are listed in order of blooming season.

Brighton Dam Azalea Garden
Brookville, Maryland
(Bloom: early May)

The hills alongside the Triadelphia Reservoir burst into clouds of color when thousands of azalea bushes come into blossom each spring. This informal garden is an enchanting experience in full bloom as the azaleas have grown to massive proportions in the seventy-plus years the garden has been growing. An added bonus: elderly and disabled visitors are able to tour a good portion of the gardens by car on weekdays, which is especially helpful considering its hilly terrain. Read the full review with photos here.

Schwartz Peony Garden
Gaithersburg, Maryland
(Bloom: late May – early June)

This falls into the “hidden garden” category because the garden takes some searching out within the larger Seneca Creek State Park. Follow the amusing “Peony” signs to a clearing with an elongated rectangular garden of rows and rows of peony bushes alongside a meadow with even more scattered flowers popping up beyond. It is fascinating to see all of the different varieties of the flower, some with single rows of petals and others nearly bowed over by the weight of their flowery masses. Read my review with plenty of peony photos here.

The Dahlia Garden
Derwood, Maryland

(Bloom: late June – early Fall)

This is a garden that I literally stumbled upon by accident. The Agricultural History Farm Park was not the place I expected to find a specialty dahlia garden with blooms nearly big as my head, but the wide-open fields provide a beautiful backdrop for these mega flowers. Read my review of this magical little garden with the huge flowers here.

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