- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

So you can't get out to Skyline Drive. There's still much to see near town. U.S. National Arboretum horticulturist Scott Aker predicts that here at home, colors will peak in the third week of October, a little later than usual.
"We had good soil moisture, so the trees are hanging onto their leaves a bit longer," Mr. Aker says.
So get out and not too far about. Mr. Aker's own National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave. NE, 202/245-2726 or www.usna.usda.gov) is a good place to start. The horticulturalist says dogwood and viburnum are already showing red. The arboretum grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
Rock Creek Park (5000 Glover Road NW; 202/426-6829) may be the best spot for fall foliage in the District, whether you're on foot or bike and picnic tables make it a perfect dining spot during daylight hours. By car, Rock Creek Parkway allows a drive-through view and is accessible from Beach Drive, Military Road and Calvert Street NW. Call 202/426-6828 or see www.nps.gov/rocr.
If you insist on the car, you can cover a lot of ground by driving the George Washington Memorial Parkway (703/289-2500), which takes you from Mount Vernon to I-495, the scenic way. The densely wooded drive, though picturesque in itself, also offers many reasons to stop the car: leisurely lunches at Dyke Marsh, bicycle rides along the Mount Vernon Trail, strolls along the waterfront, with its series of parks, in Old Town Alexandria.
Try the gardens: Brookside Gardens (1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton; 301/949-8230 or www.brooksidegardens.org) stays open seven days a week during daylight hours. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the garden shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Green Springs Garden Park (4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria; 703/642-5173 or www.co.fairfax.va.us/parks/ gsgp) keeps its grounds open during daylight. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
On the wild side, head for the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge Center (Powder Mill Road and Route 197, Laurel; 301/497-5760 or www.pwrc.usgs.gov), open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

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