The 15 acres became known as
By 1850, it had garnered recognition as one of the finest
collections of trees in the country. But passing generations
lost interest in the arboretum, and in 1906 the farm and the
arboretum were slated to be sold for lumber. Industrialist
Pierre S. DuPont, however, stepped in and purchased the land,
avoiding the loss of the Peirce family’s treasured plants.
DuPont’s vision transformed the quaint Quaker farm into a
private estate that became one of the most famous public gardens
in the world.
The glass conservatory, which Mr. DuPont built in
1921, encompasses 4.5 acres with traditional displays such as an
orangery and bonsai exhibit to a more current horticultural
trend, the living green wall.
Outside the conservatory one can stroll through a
range of gardens devoted to woodland, meadow and cultivated
plants. Children will delight in exploring the treehouses and
a garden designed especially for them.
Not impressed yet? The most iconic feature at
Longwood is the
Fountain Garden, which Mr. DuPont engineered and
built in 1931. It was inspired by his visits to fountains in
Europe and the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago. The
five-acre garden and fountain, which recirculates 10,000 gallons
of water a minute, is beautifully illuminated. On summer
evenings fireworks and music add to the experience.
The gardens offer visitors something new every
season of the year. Longwood hosts world class horticultural
exhibits, dining events, classes, workshops, and musical
performances. Performances range from classical to flamenco
dancing. Longwood’s resident instruments include the 62 Bell
Carillon housed in the stone Chimes Tower, a 1923 Steinway
grand piano and last, but not least, a 10,010 pipe Aeolian organ
commissioned by Mr. DuPont. The organ is the largest of its type
constructed in a residential setting.
Every autumn at Longwood brings the
Festival, which is on view in the conservatory through November
24, and touts the largest thousand-bloom mum in North America,
one plant featuring 1,416 perfect yellow flowers. The Japanese
technique of Ozukuri trains a single chrysanthemum plant to
produce as many perfect blossoms as possible. Another 20,000
chrysanthemums have been trained to resemble clouds, fans and
Outside, there is also plenty of color. Sourwood
(Oxydendrum arboreum), winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata),
Japanese stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia) and Inchang
viburnum (Viburnum inchangense) are but a few of the hardy
plants displaying beautiful fall foliage and long lasting
berries. A grove of our native witch-hazel, Hamamelis virginiana
is right outside the visitor center. It is not to be missed!
The equally enchanting “A
Longwood Christmas” opens on Thanksgiving day this year and
runs through January 12th. It features a water, light and
musical performance in the open air theatre garden outdoor, plus
thousands of lights within the conservatory and on the grounds.
Spring whispers its own song with lovely white
snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) and blue Siberian squill (Scilla
siberica) blooming when the gardens come back to life. The Idea
Garden and Flower Garden Walk are planted with hundreds of
tulips and other bulbs creating a rainbow of brilliant color.
The elusive Himilayan blue poppy Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ which
blooms in March in the Orangery, could be the inspiration for
the timing of your visit. Or, schedule a visit sometime between
mid-April to mid-May to gaze at the iconic Longwood wisteria
vines, Wisteria floribunda. These decades-old vines are trained
in tiered tree forms and display in shades of lavender, purple
and white with an aroma that is nothing short of heavenly.
Finally, summer’s sweet cadence at Longwood is
highlighted by its Fountain Garden and the many activities for
visitors to enjoy. View more than 100 types of waterlilies,
including Victoria “Longwood hybrid” known as the giant water
Finding a place that brings out the best of all
four seasons—each with its inherent, unique beauty—is a rare
joy. One visit to Longwood, whether it’s to view the
breathtaking holiday arrangements on display in December, or to
soak up the first sweet smells of spring’s blossoms, will have
you checking your calendar to schedule a trip to experience the
next season’s offerings. A tribute to the limitless
possibilities of flora, horticulture and design year-round,
Longwood is truly a garden that never sleeps. For more
information, visit longwoodgardens.org
The Christmas Rose