Drove 60-miles (from Fairfax, VA) to visit Cylburn Arboretum in Baltimore, but was disappointed overall. Firstly, Mansion on grounds is only open Tuesday-Friday (very inconvenient and unnecessarily-restrictive schedule to those who have weekday lives outside tourist-trips). I believe this is designed such that they can advertise it on the website, but ultimately deny viewing to the public on the most favorable (weekend) days...just so they can maximize their Wedding Schedule revenues or reserve it for VIPs. They boldly advertise 'Greenhouse' on their website, but then after you get there (and its too late to change your mind) you are denied viewing of any Hothouse or Greenhouses & plantings (they claim that they "use too much hazardous pesticides for public breathing"...if the pesticides are toxic, then why use them; no one else does?). Although it was still 14:00pm (on Saturday), we were denied access to the Aquaponics Project Building (the staff told us it was only accessible 'By Invitation Only'). I believe these advertisements followed by denied-access is most likely just a ploy to advertise nice things to attract visitors to drive 2-hours to get there, but then in reality just keep the public out of Gardner's way while they use Donor's money to feather their own Master Gardening careers. The Nature Museum (Carriage House) was advertised in very alluring description on their website, but when we arrived, we found it in tatters and closed due to unknown construction (no advance notice on their website). It just looks like a broken-down shack from the outside. Most individual gardens were in the process of being upgrade with new plantings (thus, nothing interesting to view); the Formal Garden was the only one worth viewing (elegant). Some of the other individual gardens were pretty...but plain. Unfortunately, the predominance of this Arboretum grounds is nothing more than a few open green grass fields (no interesting plants or unusual tree-sets) with a paved roadway down the middle of it. Most of the nature trails (e.g. Circle Trail; Ravine Course; etc.) were mud-soaked (despite no rain for several days) and barely passable in some places; not well-maintained. We saw an advertisement for the 'Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory & Botanic Gardens on the Info-rack of the Visitor Center (because Cylburn Arboretum manages the Rawlings Conservatory). It looked very interesting. However, the directions that the Visitor Center Manager provided us to find Rawlings Conservatory (by the Zoo) was totally confusing. This was compounded by the Rawlings brochure that has confusing driving directions and useless GPS coordinates (useless for all who do not have Navi). We wasted 45-minutes searching for the Rawlings Conservatory...only to arrive there and discover that it was closed for a private party (this fact should have been known by the Cylburn Manager when he gave us directions; that would have saved us the laborious hunt for Rawlings). I was so angry that he gave us confusing directions and lets us go without telling us that it was already closed. Overall, we wasted 4-hours driving time round-trip to view a mostly-boring Arboretum that requires only about 15-20 minutes to see everything accessible of interest. I strongly recommend Tourists should instead bypass this Arboretum altogether, and get better value for their time-spent traveling by going to view beautiful places like the National Arboretum; Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens; etc. The Management of this Cylburn Arboretum should be ashamed of themselves for the bait-n-switch way of advertising on their website and then denying access to everything after people arrive. My family will not ever make the trip back here to this place.
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