by D.J. Wilson – The holiday season is a truly wonderful time of year as families and friends gather together in joyous celebration. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, it is one of the busiest seasons as we spend time preparing and attending to details to make these events successful. After the holiday season and for me personally, the winter months tend to lag and I count the days to spring. I often stare at the bare trees and grey sky from the picture window of my living room to wish away the dormant winter as part of me grows restless for sun and the outdoors. It dawned on me that the cold weather and seemingly austere sky were not to blame for my hibernation and bleak attitude towards winter. I was solely responsible. I discovered there is much nature waiting to be appreciated, even during the long winter months. One spectacular place to visit, offering year round beauty and seasonal enchantment, is Longwood Gardens. Located in on US Route 1, about 3 miles northeast of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, it is a wonderful way to explore the countryside and experience the beauty of nature amongst the bountiful gardens. An easy drive from Philadelphia and accessible from great cities like New York and Washington, the inviting Gardens are open year round and visitors are in for a deeply pleasurable experience each season, including the winter months.
The garden is well noted for its exquisite flowers, stately trees, and impressive fountains and conservatory. Described as a magical place and horticultural showstopper, the story of Longwood Gardens goes back in history. While many generations helped in its creation, the industrialist and philanthropist, Pierre S. du Pont, contributed significantly. The du Pont family arrived from France in 1800 and founded the E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company gunpowder works. Pierre made it a corporate success in the early 20th century and used the money earned to develop Longwood. Originally the land was inhabited by the Lenni Lenape tribe who used the land to hunt, fish and farm. In 1700, a family of Quakers by the name of Pierce purchased the property from William Penn and turned it into a working farm and arboretum. It was purchased in 1906 by Pierre du Pont who wished to preserve the trees. The gardens were turned over to a foundation set up by Mr. du Pont and now provide enjoyment in beautiful surroundings and serve as a place to experience, love and learn about nature.
Longwood Gardens offers special year round attractions and is a wonderful family destination. Many visitors enjoy the Christmas fountain show set to holiday music featuring a dancing fountain show with evening illumination of vibrant colors and backdrop of snowflakes. The Christmas Choir Concerts are also enjoyable and feature gospel and madrigal singers and a hand-bell choir. New Year’s Eve can be celebrated at Longwood Gardens and feature strolling performances, crafts and fireworks. One may also explore the miniature railway in the Idea Garden. Throughout the year, the Gardens host many events and performances such as dance, classical, jazz and family concerts. In June of 2012, Longwood welcomes Bruce Munro, a British artist and light designer, and his debut exhibition of light. Though the holiday shows are spectacular, it is truly the Gardens that make the experience special. With different plants or flowers in bloom each season such as a winter favorite of mine, the yellow-berried American Holly, there is constant beauty in both the indoor and outdoor gardens.
Woodlands, meadows and gardens create the masterpiece known as Longwood Gardens and culminate into over 1,077 acres of beauty. Considered one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States, visitors are delighted to see the exotic plants and horticulture (indoor and outdoor) and partake in educational lectures, courses and workshops if desired. Offering many types of outdoor garden experiences, it is bound to please all ages. From the Italian Water Garden of clipped ivy, green lawns, and tiled pools and fountains to the enchanting Chimes Tower and 50 foot man made Waterfall; Longwood is impressive in size and garden variety. From a forest walk to the fragrant Rose Garden at the height of its bloom, Longwood is beaming with inspiration and sensory delights galore. Longwood Gardens is extremely proud of its Conservatory and colorful orchids where guests are invited to “experience 20 rooms of pure sunshine.” The Gardens will also host The International Orchid Show & Sale in March, 2012.
Beautifully seated in the Brandywine River Valley, Longwood Gardens offers immense pleasure to all those who seek nature during the cold winter months. Whether one experiences Longwood by morning sun or evening light, or in winter, spring, summer or fall, it is a wonderful place to visit. While the wintry season may have a bleak effect on the soul, Longwood Gardens is the perfect antidote and is bound to make all seasons bright. Longwood Gardens of Pennsylvania invites you to celebrate the beauty of nature and to rejoice in the immeasurable glories of each season. Visit the gardens today.
For information on Longwood Gardens, please visit www.longwoodgardens.org