April 11, 2019
Longwood Gardens: Springing into the Peak of the Season
Flower Walk in Peak BloomSource: Longwood Gardens
Brilliant blue and yellow hues dance around the fields of Longwood Gardens’ 1,083 acres while hyacinths hypnotize you with a floral aroma that’s carried by the warm, April breeze.
“We’re not at peak bloom,” said Patricia Evans, the Director of Communications at Longwood Gardens. “We expect that to happen in about a week.”
A Bit of Context…
Statue at Longwood GardensSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
Longwood Gardens is the historic botanical garden established by Pierre du Pont in 1906, located on 1001 Longwood Rd, Kennett Square, PA 19348.
“The land was originally William Penn’s before it was sold to a family named Peirce,” Evans said. “They had a set of cousins who were early plant explorers, so they would travel up and down the east coast to collect trees and plant them in what is now [Longwood Gardens’] Peirce’s Park.”
Du Pont bought the 202-acre property after hearing it would be sold for lumber in 1906, Evans continued.
“[Du Pont] stepped in, bought the lumber rights, and saved the trees,” Evans said. “Then he went about building Longwood.”
Today, 400 acres of Longwood Gardens are accessible for visitors to enjoy. Evans said the rest of the property is used for plant nursersies, production, faculty and student housing, as well as a 10-acre solar panel farm.
Throughout the year, Longwood Gardens celebrates the beauty each season has to offer.
- Jan 19 – Mar 24: Orchid Extravaganza
- Mar 30 – May 5: Spring Blooms
- May 9 – Sept 29: Festival of Fountains
- Oct 3 – Nov 17: Autumn Colors
- Nov 22 – Jan 5: A Longwood Christmas
- Adults (19 to 61 years old): $23
- Seniors (62+ years old): $20
- College Students: $20
- Youth (5 to 18 years old): $12
- Children (4-years old or younger): Free
Members can visit Longwood Gardens any time their heart desires without an admission fee. However, they must still reserve tickets on peak days or during special events, such as Easter Weekend or A Longwood Christmas.
“We currently have 67,000 members and our most popular membership is the dual membership, [Gardens 2],” Evans said.
Evans also added that Christmas is one of their busiest times of the year, with Longwood Gardens seeing about 450,000 visitors in 46 days.
The Festival of Fountains is another highlight for Longwood Gardens, with about 600,000 visiting in a five month period.
Longwood Garden’s Spring Blooms in April
An early-blooming pink Tulip at Longwood Garden’s Flower WalkSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
Evans took my partner, XtaSeay, and I on a scenic tour through the outdoor Flower Walk, Idea Garden, as well as the Hillside Garden on the afternoon of Apr 8.
“This is one of the most variable and diverse times of the year at Longwood Gardens,” Evans said. “This is kind of when Mother Nature shows herself.”
White and yellow Daffodils at Longwood Garden’s Flower WalkSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
The Flower Walk was one of the first gardens established at Longwood by Du Pont in 1907, according to Evans.
Although the Spring Blooms season had yet to reach its peak, a few rows of Longwood’s 125,000 tulip bulbs eagerly teased of their promise for a colorful and captivating season.
The Flower Walk is an annual and perennial exhibit tended to by staff and many volunteers under a designer, Evans said.
“After our summer season is over in October, we take everything out and plant [new tulip] bulbs,” Evans said. “You have to plant the bulbs in October in order for them to bloom in Spring – and a lot of people don’t realize that. You can’t plant bulbs in April and think that they’re going to bloom. They won’t.”
The spring is welcomed by delicate white and pink Magnolia trees, complemented by over a million hardy bulbs (Hardy Crocus, Daffodils, and Winter Aconite) that decorate the grounds at Longwood Gardens.
Magnolia Tree at Longwood GardensSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
Main Fountain Garden
The Main Fountain Garden in Sept 2018Source: [FRAMES] Fountains 05 | Penelope Peru Photography P3
The Main Fountain garden was quiet on Apr 8. The sound of the gentle breeze echoed through the area, now absent of the soothing sound of running water.
The Main Fountain Garden was established in 1931 and recently underwent a 2.5-year refurbishment in 2015.
Not only were the fountains restored, Evans said 1,200 new features were added.
The Main Fountain Garden will re-open within the next few weeks.
Visitors are then encouraged to revel in the awe of the upcoming fireworks and fountain shows that take place throughout the Festival of Fountains season.
The Main Fountain Garden light show in Oct 2018Source: [FRAMES] Fountain Light Show 02 |Penelope Peru Photography P³
Idea Garden at LongwoodSource: The Burgundy Zine
In the summer months, the Idea Garden is home to exhibits by the students and interns at Longwood Gardens.
Peas, onions, tomatoes, and other produce are also grown in the Idea Garden, which Evans said are used at the fine-dining establishment on the property, 1906.
“We also do a number of beverages with Victory Beers using ingredients grown here at Longwood Gardens,” Evans said. “We do a grapefruit beer, a strawberry beer, and we’re also doing a stone fruit beer.”
Magnolia trees at Longwood’s Hillside GardenSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
The trails along the Hillside Garden are lined with daffodils and hardy bulbs. You can hear the ramble of the waterfall near the Chimes Tower in the distance.
“[Du Pont] was really an early visionary for preserving the works of [the Peirce cousins],” Evans said. “When he died, he left it as a non profit organization and asked that Longwood Gardens remain open everyday of the year. We’re really fortunate to have that.”
Longwood Gardens isn’t the only Du Pont estate in the area.
“There are a lot of estates in the Brandywine Valley and a lot of Du Pont estates in Delaware,” Evans added. “[The Du Ponts] are sort of the patron saints of gardening in this area.”
“Du Pont was more about the gardens, so his house is very simple,” Evans explained. “He also loved the sound of running water, which he wrote about in his journal as a child, so you’ll see a lot of water indoors and outdoors at Longwood Gardens.”
The fountains are just one part of the Longwood experience that act on the beauty of our five senses.
“The fountains are a major part of our gardens’ architecture and ambiance,” Evans continued. “A garden isn’t just about sight; it’s about smell, sounds, all of those things.”
Yellow Daffodils at Longwood’s Oak and Conifer KnollSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
The Conservatory at Longwood GardensSource: Springing into the Season at Longwood | Penelope Peru Photography P³
Although we parted ways with Evans before heading into The Conservatory, she provided us with plenty of information about the facility.
The Conservatory, established by Du Pont in 1919, consists of 20 gardens that span over four acres.
“It started with the main part of the conservatory, ” Evans said. “The East Conservatory was added later, the Palm House was added in the 70s, the East Plaza and greenwall were added in 2010.”
You are greeted by fountains and a breathtaking flower display as you enter the heart of The Conservatory, which is located near the Main Fountain Garden.
The plants and various displays are ever changing, evolving to reflect the various seasons and themes at Longwood Gardens throughout the year.
Yellow Daffodils and TulipsSource: Longwood Gardens
Currently, The Conservatory is adorned with Begonias, Lupines, Orchids, and Longwood’s very own Hybrid Cineraria.
“We have a bit more control over The Conservatory because it’s inside,” Evans said earlier in our visit. “We can control the lights and temperature to grow whatever we want and get it to bloom. You can’t do that with Mother Nature.”
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