A few weeks ago, my daughters and I visited one of my favorite places — Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The first time I ever visited Longwood Gardens was with my own mother, so in honor of Mother’s Day and the fact that spring is drawing to a close, I figured I’d post a few pics from our most recent visit.
Peirce du Pont House
In 1700, the Peirce family purchased the land that would become Longwood Gardens from William Penn. The Peirces planted the first arboretum and sold the property to industrialist and conservationist Pierre du Pont in 1906. For the next 20+ years, Mr. du Pont created the foundation for what would become one of the most beautiful public gardens in America.
Tree Houses, Towers, and Topiaries
There are three tree houses (called Nature’s Castles) on the site: The Canopy Cathedral (inspired by a Norwegian church), The Lookout Loft (overlooks the Meadow and is wheelchair accessible), and The Birdhouse (complete with binoculars to spot and identify local birds in their natural surroundings). The neat thing about each of the tree houses is that they are mostly made from salvaged wood and are not anchored directly into the trees. Instead, they use a pin foundation system for support.
There is a Chimes Tower with a 62 bell carillon. Longwood Gardens has live carillon concerts and the bells ring mechanically every 15 minutes. Kids love hearing the bells, as well as running up and down the lower set of steps in the bell tower.
The Topiary Garden is a fun place to play hide and seek — and it’s great inspiration! The first chapter of my upcoming novel, Dark Light of Day, takes place in a garden full of topiaries (as well as many other garden delights).
Dragons, Snakes, and Gargoyles
One of the things I love most is that, amongst the flowers, trees, and endless gardens, are statues and carvings of otherworldly creatures. Who would expect to see fangs in a place like Longwood Gardens? How could this not be one of my favorite places?!
Meadows and Gardens
There are acres and acres of open space, and garden after garden, to walk around in. There are exhibition gardens, idea gardens, children’s gardens, fountain gardens, rose gardens, peony gardens, wisteria gardens… Woods, forests, meadows, an open air theater — in the winter even ice skating on the frozen lake around the Chimes Tower. The first time you go, it’s almost overwhelming. Definitely plan to spend the entire day there!
The Conservatory — Orchids, Roses, and the Silver Garden
I always save the indoor part of this outdoor wonderland for the end. The seasonal displays are remarkable. Longwood Gardens celebrates five seasons:
- Orchid Extravaganza (Jan 20-March 25)
- Spring Blooms (March 31-May 20)
- Festival of Fountains (May 26-Sept 2)
- Autumn’s Colors (Sept 8-Nov 18)
- Christmas (Nov 22-Jan 6)
And the year round displays of greenery, plants, flowers, cacti, bonsai, etc. are amazing. The love that the caretakers have for their botanical charges both large and small is evident. To fully appreciate this living masterpiece, you must see it for yourself!
How about you? Have you been to Longwood Gardens? Are you thinking of going? Have you been to other places like it that you could recommend? What are your favorite parts of public gardens? Do you have a green thumb and like to garden? Are you celebrating Mother’s Day? If so, what are your plans?