Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Springtime Visit to Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens, the treasure created by the Pierre du Pont family near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is an enjoyable experience at pretty much any time of the year, but my visit last April made more of an impression on me than my first visit way back in September of 2006. The reason for this may have been a combination of two things.

When I made that first visit, I was a new gardener and while absolutely awestruck by its loveliness and grandeur, my familiarity with plants had not yet reached a level much beyond their aesthetics. That alone is more than enough to appreciate this garden or any garden, for that matter, but as my knowledge of and experience with plants has grown exponentially over the years, I look at gardens through different eyes.

Now I look at the design of the garden as a whole, as well as individual plots and vignettes. I try to figure out why I like them, why they work, and ponder whether any of it would work in my own garden. I also look at individual plants that catch my eye and wonder if I could grow this one or that one, all the while looking ahead with regard to maintenance, drought tolerance, and attractiveness as it matures.

Consider too, that visiting any garden in spring - for a northern gardener, at least - lifts a person's spirits after enduring a long, cold, and dreary winter. Last spring was especially joyous because of The Winter That Was.

I was more than ready to see swaths of daffodils and tulips and smell the wet, green fragrance of the gardens coming to life again. Not just the hyacinths or lily-of-the-valley, but that medley of "green" that even those without sight would recognize as spring.

THIS is how you do a conservatory.

This second visit to Longwood Gardens was planned but yet by chance, as it was a personal add-on to a business trip to Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, just outside Harrisburg, where I spent two days touring the Ames Tools facilities and getting to know their company and their products. Good friend Shawna Coronado had been invited by Ames too, and we were delighted when we discovered we both were attending.

With several thousand tulips, you too can have a yard that looks like this!

That's when the wheels started turning in my head as to the possibility of us staying an extra couple of days (at our own expense) so that we could visit both Longwood and Winterthur, if possible, since we were going to be relatively close to both of them. Having visited both places previously, I was hoping to see them again and introduce both to Shawna, but unfortunately, Winterthur would have to wait for another time, because you know how time is - there just never seems to be enough of it.

One of the most photographed locations at Longwood includes the stone
and iron gazebo.

The mother-daughter dynamic duo,
Katie Dubow (left) and Suzi McCoy
After spending two wonderfully informative days at Ames, we were hosted by Suzi McCoy and her husband in their beautiful Kennett Square home, with a lovely dinner at nearby Terrain garden store, where we were joined by Suzi's daughter, Katie Dubow. We also enjoyed a fun breakfast at Fran Keller's Eatery, a local restaurant, where we were joined by a couple of other Garden Media Group peeps, Stacey Silvers and Emma Fitzpatrick.

We arrived at Longwood around 11:00 and for the next six hours, explored the gardens inside and out. If that seems like a long time, I can assure you that it went by in a flash. With over 1077 acres and a conservatory that is alone worth the cost of admission ($20 for ages 18+, $17 for 65+, and $10 for ages 5-18), and camera in hand, it's almost not enough time.

I took over 400 photos that day and choosing which ones to include here to give you a taste of what you can expect to see when visiting Longwood Gardens was not easy. The gardens outside are stunning in their design and use of color, while the conservatory can be described as the best four-acre backyard you can imagine, where the weather is always just right.

Because I know you're going to ask, those pink towers of loveliness are
Echium wildpretii. Appropriate specific epithet, don't you think? Wild and
pretty, for sure.

The gardens celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2006 and miniature terrariums were used as table decorations during a celebratory banquet. When I made my first visit to Longwood in that year, their beautiful gift shop offered some of them for sale. I was able to purchase one and enjoy having a memento of both my first visit and their centennial year.

As with any garden, your visit will be different depending on the time of year you visit. Without further ado, here's more of Longwood Gardens in spring:

In the vegetable garden

The iconic gazebo stands opposite the skunk cabbage coming up on the
other shore of the lake.

I'm thinking that those are some well-placed benches, with that lovely view.

The ferns were stretching out their fiddleheads.

In the children's garden inside the conservatory

In the conservatory

One of the many water features in the conservatory.

The bromeliads are quite happy by this fountain in the conservatory.

One of the conservatory hallways

I've never seen such beautiful foxgloves, inside or out.

Delphiniums and ferns in the conservatory

Beautiful pathway in the conservatory

In the conservatory


Conservatory fountains

Golden Clivia in the conservatory

Bougainvillea in the conservatory

Bleeding Heart
(Lamprocapnos spectabilis)

Bathrooms. Yes, really.

Poppy Anemone
(Anemone coronaria)

Oh, those blue hydrangeas in the conservatory!

Squirrel Corn
(Dicentra canadensis)

Purple Trillium
(Trillium erectum)

Tulipa 'Angelique'

The Topiary Garden

Longwood Gardens is located 45 minutes from Philadelphia and just 30 minutes from Wilmington, Delaware. It's one of the many beautiful places to visit in the Brandywine Valley.

Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Road,
Kennett Square,  PA 19348



Lisa Greenbow said...

It appears that just the conservatory would be worth the trip.

Kylee Baumle said...

Lisa ~ That's exactly my feelings about it, Lisa! If you ever get the chance to visit Longwood, you must. And make sure you have enough time to go to nearby Winterthur, too. Those du Ponts know how to do it right.

Anonymous said...

We live in NE Ohio and have visited Longwood Garden every year (sometimes more than once in a year!) A constant inspiration. Have also done Winterthur which is lovely! Thanks for the lovely post this time of year ~ we'll be heading there the end of April again!

Kylee Baumle said...

Anonymous ~ Oh, lucky you! If I lived closer, I would sure do the same thing. And I do need to make it back to see Winterthur again. I enjoyed that just as much.

Erin @ The Impatient Gardener said...

Beautiful! Longwood is on my list of must-see gardens. Hopefully I can cross it off soon.

PlantPostings said...

Well, you picked some great photos out of your 400! It looks like the light was just right! Spring seems like the perfect time to visit Longwood. Gorgeous!

CommonWeeder said...

What a great post. Just beautiful. Longwood has been on my must go list for a long time. Maybe this year.

Pam/Digging said...

That bathroom corridor -- seriously?! Wow. I was in Pennsylvania a few years ago with my family and had time for just one garden. I was planning on Longwood but made a detour instead to Chanticleer and have never regretted it for an instant. But clearly I need to go back and see all the wonderful gardens in that region.

Kylee Baumle said...

Erin ~ You really must!

Beth ~ Thank you. It seemed a bit difficult at times because it was such a bright, sunny day, but it was really just right for strolling!

Pat ~ Like I told Erin, you DO have to go. It's as fabulous as everyone says.

Pam ~ Like I said, I've been there twice and loved both visits, for different reasons. I've not been to Chanticleer and that one's on MY list! ;-)

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