Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. I keep referring to it as the ‘Disney World of Horticulture’ because they have the seeming ability and for sure the funds to do what ever they decide to. Here is a brief description of the property from wikipedia. There are also many wonderful books on the gardens themselves and their founder Pierre S. du Pont. For some of these titles check here.
What is now Longwood Gardens was originally purchased from William Penn in 1700 by a fellow Quaker named George Peirce (1646–1734). Although it started as a working farm, in 1798 Joshua and Samuel Peirce planted the first specimens of an arboretum. By 1850 they had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation.
Industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. He made it his private estate, and from 1906 until the 1930s, du Pont added extensively to the property. A world traveler from an early age, du Pont was often inspired to add features to the garden after attending world’s fairs, the most notable additions being the massive conservatory, complete with a massive pipe organ, and the extensive system of fountains. Mr. Du Pont opened his estate to the public many days of the year during his occupancy.
After the completion of the fountains, du Pont began planning for the sustained life of Longwood Gardens after his death. He founded the Longwood Foundation in 1937, and in 1946 the foundation was chartered with running Longwood Gardens for the general education and enjoyment of the public.
Today Longwood Gardens consists of 20 outdoor gardens and 20 indoor gardens within 4.5 acres (18,200 m²) of heated greenhouses, known as conservatories. It contains 11,000 different types of plants and trees, as well as fountains. The Gardens also has extensive educational programs including a tuition-free two-year school of professional horticulture, a graduate program, and extensive internships. It hosts 800 horticultural and performing arts events each year, from flower shows, gardening demonstrations, courses, and children’s programs to concerts, organ and carillon recitals, musical theatre, fountain shows, and fireworks displays. It also hosts an extensive Christmas light display during the holiday season.
Longwood’s conservatory is one of the world’s greatest greenhouse structures. The conservatory alone is home to 5,500 types of plants. An exploration of the 20 indoor gardens spanning a half mile takes about an hour and a half. Gardens of the conservatory, each with its own exquisite displays of plants, include The Orangery, Silver Garden, Acacia Passage, Orchid House, Cascade Garden, Palm House, Mediterranean Garden, Tropical Terrace and the Outdoor Water Garden display. Since its original construction date in 1919, it has undergone expansions and renovations. In January 2003, the East Conservatory was closed for a renovation project. On October 29, 2005, the main hall of the East Conservatory was once again opened to the public.
As you can imagine I took hundreds of pictures on my recent visit. This post is going to show you some of the amazing plants they have on site. I will follow up with posts on the gardens hardscape and architecture.