Longwood Gardens

Road Trip Guide: Longwood Gardens

May 26, 2014 

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Boasting more fountains than any other garden in the U.S., Longwood’s Main Fountain Garden is a highlight for summertime visitors.

L. ALBEE — Photo provided by Longwood Gardens

  • A short drive away ...

    •  National Constitution Center; Philadelphia (35 miles east of Longwood); museum and civic center dedicated to nonpartisan education about the U.S. Constitution, interpretations, history, constitutioncenter.org

    •  Citizens Bank Park; Philadelphia (30 miles east of Longwood); take in a baseball game at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com

    •  Valley Forge National Historical Park; King of Prussia (25 miles northeast of Longwood); George Washington’s winter encampment, revolutionary history, www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm

    •  King of Prussia Mall; King of Prussia (28 miles northeast of Longwood); shopping at more than 400 stores, www.simon.com/mall/king-of-prussia-mall

    •  Philadelphia Museum of Art; Philadelphia (34 miles east of Longwood); art collections from around the world, www.philamuseum.org

After so much snow and rain, many people are likely looking to get out, stroll in the sunshine, occasionally stopping to sniff a flower or two along the way.

Nearly 1,100 acres of of fragrant plants and flowers await your nose at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, http://longwoodgardens.org.

The public gardens, first organized in 1906 by Pierre du Pont, house more than 9,000 different species of plants arranged in woodland, formal, meadow and water gardens, as well as indoor gardens at the conservatory.

The gardens burst with colorful flowers in the spring, a popular time for the public to visit, said Patricia Evans, communications director with Longwood Gardens. But spring isn’t the only time Longwood is blooming. It has year-round garden exhibits indoors and out, from lush tropical foliage to the spiny, water-hoarding cacti of desert regions.

Incorporated into the gardens are numerous fountains to add to the beauty, as well as present an eye-catching and entertaining spectacle for visitors.

“We have more fountains than any other garden in the U.S.,” Evans said.

Whether it’s the history of Longwood Gardens — which counting the original farm, dates back to the 1700s — or the mechanical wonders of how the pump house provides water for all those fountains and gardens and the musical performance, there is something that will entertain the entire family.

“Even if you’re not a horticulturalist,” Evans said, “there’s something you’ll enjoy. A lot of people come to just get away from it all.”

Did you know ...

•  Longwood produces 75 percent of the plants in its gardens. Each year, it raises 110,000 plants from 1,000 different species at the garden.

•  The Pierce/du Pont house at Longwood was originally built in 1730 by the son of the property’s first owner, George Pierce. Prior to the Pierce purchase in 1700, the land on which Longwood sits (within several miles of the Brandywine Creek) was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape tribe, evidenced by the stone arrowheads found occasionally around the gardens.

•  Although du Pont operated Longwood as public gardens in the early 1900s, expanding its collection of plants and facilities, the gardens did not have a collection of tropical palm plants until 1966, when a new greenhouse was built specifically to house them.

•  Every spring, more than 250,000 bulbs sprout colorful flowers in Longwood’s gardens.

While you’re there ...

•  June 7: Tony Award-winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater headlines the annual Jazz & Wine Festival at Longwood Gardens. The event will include performances on multiple stages and wines from 16 different regional wineries, cellars and vineyards.

•  June 23-27: Longwood presents its hands-on learning program, “It’s Alive: What’s Living in the Garden?” The event encourages the entire family to explore the gardens and find all the critters swimming and creeping about.

•  July 4 and 19, Aug. 16 and 30, and Sept. 13: Fireworks and Fountain Shows set to classical, big band, patriotic and popular music, including ABBA and The Beatles.

— Jim T. Ryan

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