October 24 — An absolute must see for anyone within a 100-mile radius of Philadelphia/Wilmington – we’re not joking… these gardens in the Brandywine Valley outside of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, are among the best in the entire world! Started by another du Pont, Pierre Samuel du Pont (1870-1954), Longwood Gardens today spans 1,077 acres which includes a 4-acre Conservatory, 20 indoor gardens, 20 outdoor gardens, and over 11,000 types of plants and trees. Longwood Gardens truly elevates the art of horticulture!
Longwood Gardens was once Pierce Park, a small arboretum planted by the Pierce brothers in 1789. By 1850 they had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation. In 1906, Industrialist Pierre du Pont learned that the trees in Pierce Park were going to be cut down and used for lumber, so he purchased the park, turned it into his private estate, and began extensive additions that would continue well into the 1930’s. As a world traveler, Pierre was inspired to add features to his garden, particularly after attending world’s fairs. There is an extensive system of fountains, which, at the time of our visit, were being renovated and repaired. But we were thrilled that the new Meadow Garden was open, for it’s 86 acres showcase ecological harmony and design at its best.
We were mesmerized by the beauty of the waterlilies in the water garden, as the photos in the post and in the embedded slideshow below depict. And from the Palm House, Orangery, Bonsai display, Orchid House and countless other themed rooms which are permanent fixtures, to the special Chrysanthemum Festival that featured more than 80,000 blooms which had been nurtured and trained into creative forms, the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s greatest greenhouse structures that is not to be missed.
While I’ll spare you all the details [you can learn more when you visit here yourselves!] the history and growth of the park is fascinating – from the 200-acre farm that was spared to a property now having a $50 million annual budget and over 1,300 staff members and volunteers… these are truly spectacular gardens where, as their marketing material suggests, ‘the living things that surround you make you feel more alive.’
I just love these old magnate-turned-philanthropists who’ve left big estates behind to share with future generations! Thank you, Pierre, or as his nieces and nephews called him, Uncle P.!
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, and click on the arrows to scroll through some absolutely beautiful photos from this absolutely beautiful garden: