Longwood Gardens: Acres of Beauty

Brandywine Valley’s Longwood Gardens is one of the most romantic destinations in the MidAtlantic. These magnificent planned gardens were built by a member of the DuPont Family and features breathtaking year-round plantings on view.

Orchid Extravaganza on display in Longwood in March.

In 2017, Longwood Gardens became USA Today’s choice for the best public garden in America. In 1907, third generation scion Pierre S. du Pont laid out his plans for Longwood’s first landscape, the Flower Garden Walk, a serene meander through towering trees and colorful flowerbeds. Today, his gardens are a spectacular feat of beauty that attracts visitors from around the world. Something is always in bloom at Longwood Gardens thanks to Longwood’s palatial indoor conservatories.

The conservatories change with the seasons.

This Eden-like landscape is located in the Brandywine Valley at the borders of Pennsylvania and Delaware, just two hours from Washington DC and twenty minutes from Philadelphia.

Longwood has the longest green wall in America.

Between 1916 and 1926, Pierre du Pont built his Conservatory, filling it with exotic, tropical plants. Today, this sprawling indoor garden has themed rooms where flowers and plants are rotated but always displayed in breathtaking splendor.

Longwood’s water lilies and lotus bloom in July and August.

Along the border of the main walkway, are soaring Japanese Pawlina trees with delicate lavender petals hanging like bayou vines. There are 1,050 acres of woodlands and meadows in what was originally an arboretum. It was purchased by du Pont to save plots full of rare tree specimens.

You’ll need your walking shoes to tour the 20 outdoor gardens and 20 indoor gardens under four acres of glasshouses. Longwood has two restaurants, 1906 Fine Dining Room, an upscale culinary experience, and Longwood’s busy Cafe that serves fresh local cuisine and delicious homemade ice cream. In the summer, Longwood opens the Beer Garden with pub food and pizzas along with live music Thursdays through Sundays from 4-9 pm.

Stay warm in winter visiting Longwood’s aromatic Conservatories.

Evenings in the gardens are sublime, and the roses are at their most stunning. You can keep cool in the shady forests.

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Longwood has paths in shady forests with trickling water features and ponds.

It’s four seasons of bloom at Longwood: Spring is the peak of the tulip bloom, with more than 80,000 bulbs planted along the 600-foot flower garden walk. May welcomed the iris and peony. In 2016, ninety million dollars were spent on the Main Fountain Garden’s 2016 renovation. Summer is when the magnificent fountain displays come to life. It’s a spectacle not to be missed.

Peonies adorn the walking gardens in early June.

Each fall when the trees change to crimson and gold, Longwood hosts performances of local artists creating work themed around the natural world. This year, artisans created glittering crystalline gourds and pumpkins made of blown glass on display for several weeks. Longwood gardens hosts dinners featuring produce from local harvests and classical music concerts. In November and December, Longwood comes alive with holiday decor and a fantastical light show.

Bush pruning is a fine art at Longwood.

Brandywine Valley has multiple attractions, including sports like baseball, gambling, paddling, golf, horseback riding, point-to-point and cultural events. Tour the magnificent Winterthur Mansion, or the Brandywine River Museum of Art. Stay overnight at one of the romantic Bed and Breakfasts and picnic on the Brandywine River. There’s too much to do in one day, including antique shopping and even a helicopter museum that kids will love, so plan to spend the weekend.

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Longwood has acres of fountains and marvelous fountain show in the summer.

Tickets are available online at tickets.longwoodgardens.org, in person in the Visitor Center, or by calling 610.388.1000.

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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