Enchanting Longwood Gardens (Pennsylvania)

“Gardens and flowers have a way of bringing people together, drawing them from their homes.”
― Clare Ansberry, The Women of Troy Hill: The Back-Fence Virtues of Faith and Friendship

I am within a few weeks of leaving to see a dear friend in Woodbury, New Jersey. This is the second time I visit and already, Linda has suggested outings to the most wonderful places close to her home.

I have lovely memories of our time together last year but I remember most fondly the day we spent in Longwood Gardens.

Above all else, Longwood Gardens left a lasting impression on me for the sheer magnitude of the grounds, the diversity of the plantings, the thought and care that went into each of the sections whether it was the Italian or the Children's garden, the Conservatory, the water fountains....it all had me breathless.

The Brandywine Valley has many exquisite places we could visit, but my first choice was to see Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Linda had often sent me photos and told me about the wonders of these gardens and I could not let another year go by without seeing them in person.

Having visited the gardens of Spain's famous Alhambra and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, I can say with a little authority that Longwood far surpasses both of these lovely places. I know that this might be sacrilegious to some of you, and admittedly, the history behind the Alhambra and the Boboli stretches much further into the past. However, Longwood has something for every age group, for every taste, and changes for each season. This is not necessarily the case in all other world class gardens.

With twenty indoor and as many outdoor gardens set on just over one thousand acres, you can well understand that I only saw some of this immense horticultural marvel. The Conservatory, my favourite part of the grounds, contains well over 5000 plants. It houses various themed gardens to suit all tastes and preferences, as well as flowers of all kinds, water features, and lush greenery everywhere.

The jaw-dropping water lily garden, one might argue, is the Conservatory's pièce de résistance. Its display features gigantic lily platters and more than one hundred types of water lilies. Many of the lily pads were in bloom when I visited but the night blooming water lilies were equally stunning I was told. I had no reason to doubt it!

The Children's Garden is another must-see area. Here little ones are given permission to splash in the fountains, to use brushes and paint or interact with the different water features. I just love the instructions below. Someone has a sense of humour!

On the day we visited Longwood, adults and children were entertained by Australia's Strange Fruit on the front lawn of the Conservatory. Each day, guest entertainers perform afternoon and evenings. Even the fountains in the Main Fountain gardens (just in front of the Conservatory) with 380 water jets dance to the music at specific times of the day. Some of the jets can reach 130 feet and at night the water is tinted with colours. So beautiful!

Not to be missed are the soothing Italian Gardens with their water fountains and gurgling water features. There are so many different areas to visit that one would have to spend several days at Longwood to see it all.

I don't think it is possible to ever be bored with this place. There is always something different happening. I am sure the holiday season must be really special at Longwood. The Music Room is the main attraction at Christmas with the decorated Christmas tree which is so popular that there are long line ups to visit this section of the Conservatory.

Whether one visits only the Conservatory or spends time outdoors visiting all the different gardens on the over 300 cultivated acres on the property, there truly is something for everyone.

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