Longwood Gardens: Tree Houses, Bell Towers, Topiaries, Dragons… It’s Much More Than A Garden!

Spring Blooms at Longwood Gardens

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.

Portions of this house were built as early as 1730

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.

The Canopy Cathedral Treehouse

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.

Chimes 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?!

The creepy fanged snakes guarding the wishing well in the indoor children’s garden

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!

Flower Garden Walk

Overlooking the Meadow

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)
The Conservatory: Sunny and Seasonal!

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? 

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

15 thoughts on “Longwood Gardens: Tree Houses, Bell Towers, Topiaries, Dragons… It’s Much More Than A Garden!

  1. twin girls? this looks like a lovely place. the first time i looked at this post, i thought it was in Delaware…
    David in Maine USA

    1. Hi David, not twins, but they look a lot alike. 🙂
      Longwood Gardens is very close to Delaware. A fantastic place to visit! Have a nice Sunday. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  2. Oh I love Longwood Gardens! I’ve only been once, when we were living in Philly, but it was well worth the visit. Beautiful place. Makes me smile to see these pics. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Melinda– Maybe you’ll go back some day. My in-laws live outside of Philly so we’re up there quite a bit. It’s a neat city. In the meantime, enjoy wherever you are! Hope you’re having a great week & thanks for stopping by!

    1. I climbed lots of trees growing up but never had a treehouse. I think that’s why now, as an adult, I’m so fascinated with them. Have a great Tuesday, Brinda!

  3. My son asked me yesterday about things to do near Philly. Now I have an answer for him. Looks very romantic. : )

    1. Hi Sandy– It is! Speaking of fun kid places in Philly, have you and your son been to The Franklin Institute? It’s been awhile for us, but my kids love that museum. Take care & thanks for the comment!

    1. Hi Cara, I love the Christmas season there too. A couple of years ago, we had a family membership and went all the time. It was so much fun. They had all kinds of interesting extra things to attend too, like the Wine & Jazz Fest and a beekeeper day. We were probably there at the same time and didn’t even know it! Thanks for the comment. Hope you had a great weekend!

  4. Jill, what a lovely trip. The gardens are amazing and the historic house and carvings enchanting. I have a certified black thumb. When I plant anything my husband says I’m laying it to rest. This mother’s day I went on a writing retreat with my DSRA ladies. We all had a wonderfully productive time. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Hi Megan, I think your writer’s retreat sounds terrific! DSRA seems like a fun, supportive chapter. Your comment about you having a black thumb was funny. I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb (others are much better at planting and tending) but I do adore gardens and the outdoors. 🙂

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