Gardens fuse crystals with nature in memory of Montgomery Co. COVID-19 victims

Along its soon-to-be-purple blooming Wisteria vines, Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland, has hung over 1,400 strands of vintage crystals that were once part of chandeliers.

And in that temporary art installation called “Facets of Hope,” each strand of monofilament wire and crystals represents one life lost to COVID-19 in Montgomery County.

“We’ve hung these crystals over the gnarled branches of very old wisteria vines so that the light coming from the sky above shimmers on them and breaks them into multiple beautiful rainbows,” said Stephanie Oberle, the director of Brookside Gardens.

According to the county’s COVID-19 dashboard, 1,410 people have died from the virus.

Currently, the wisteria vines are bare. But Oberle said that as spring progresses, the vines supporting the crystals will create a tunnel of green leaves and fragrant purple blossoms. Those walking underneath will also see the site’s popular rose garden to their side.

Gardens can be a place where people come for healing and restoration, said Oberle, who added there’s been a 40% increase in the number of visitors coming to the gardens over the past year.

The goal of the exhibit, she said, is to help the community not only remember, but also move forward.

“To be a place where people could come with good memories and reflect on what’s happened in the past year and maybe go away feeling more hopeful and positive of what the future will bring for us,” Oberle said.

“This is just absolutely magnificent,” said Steve Shafritz of D.C., who has been coming to the gardens since it opened.

Deb Shepard of Bethesda said the gardens did a wonderful job in executing the dedication, which she said adds to the gardens’ already-contemplative atmosphere.

“The light coming through and shining on it and it’s not obtrusive, it just feels like it fits and that it’s part of nature. It’s just beautiful,” Shepard said.

The display at the gardens, which sits inside Wheaton Regional Park, will run through Sept. 16.

In a temporary art installation called “Facets of Hope,” each strand of monofilament wire and crystals represents one life lost to COVID-19 in Montgomery County.

Along its soon-to-be-purple blooming Wisteria vines, Brookside Gardens has hung over 1,400 strands of vintage crystals that were once part of chandeliers.

As spring progresses, the vines supporting the crystals will create a tunnel of green leaves and fragrant purple blossoms.

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More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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