ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Travel and Places»
  • Visiting North America

My Day Trip to Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Updated on August 14, 2014

If you have not yet experienced Longwood Gardens, you must add it to your bucket list.

This weekend I had planned to drive to Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. I typically take drives with very little planning or specific goals. Meandering is more my style. However, I had something to do in Chadds Ford and was planning a quick drive up and back.

I am very pleased that on this occasion I had deviated far enough from my normal that I noted the address to Longwood Gardens. I thought I might just "pop in" for a minute and see what it was all about. Instead of popping in, I ended up staying for the entire day. I found myself wishing that I had planned on staying the night so that I could return the very next day.

Longwood Gardens is an amazingly beautiful place, steeped in history. I spent the day soaking it all in, feeling my muse tapping on my shoulder, whispering, "Look at that" and "what do you think of that?". What I think is, I need to return soon and experience it all again.

Image Credit: Unless otherwise noted, these photographs are my personal photographs from my travels. Images are Dawn Rae - All Rights Reserved.

Longwood Gardens Book - Pierre S. Du Pont's Legacy

If you can't visit in the near future, perhaps a book will be of interest to you. This book is included in the Longwood Gardens gift shop. Click the "buy now" button to take a closer look at this item, or to browse Amazon for other Longwood Gardens items.

A few of my photographs of Longwood Gardens.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
One of the many doorways in the children's garden.Just imagine....A flower garden in full bloom, during the winter, the scents were divine.Blue. My favorite color.  What is yours? I am sure you could find it here.Amazing pillars and indoor pool and garden.I am not sure what it is, but I fell in love with it.I had to reach up, with my camera, to get this photo of the flowers over my head.One of the many benches with a wonderful view.The view from the metal bench.
One of the many doorways in the children's garden.
One of the many doorways in the children's garden.
Just imagine....
Just imagine....
A flower garden in full bloom, during the winter, the scents were divine.
A flower garden in full bloom, during the winter, the scents were divine.
Blue. My favorite color.  What is yours? I am sure you could find it here.
Blue. My favorite color. What is yours? I am sure you could find it here.
Amazing pillars and indoor pool and garden.
Amazing pillars and indoor pool and garden.
I am not sure what it is, but I fell in love with it.
I am not sure what it is, but I fell in love with it.
I had to reach up, with my camera, to get this photo of the flowers over my head.
I had to reach up, with my camera, to get this photo of the flowers over my head.
One of the many benches with a wonderful view.
One of the many benches with a wonderful view.
The view from the metal bench.
The view from the metal bench.

A Summarized Timeline of the Land of Longwood Gardens

How Longwood Gardens came to be.

If you like history, I highly recommend that you read more about du Pont and his work at creating what has become Longwood Gardens. You can find a more detailed history on the Garden's website or in books such as the one I listed above. I am only skimming the bare surface here.

* The Lenni Lenapi tribe lived on this land for thousands of years.

* In 1700, George Pierce (a Quaker) and his family purchased 402 acres of this land. They cleared it and farmed it.

* In 1798, two of the Pierce grandsons began an arboretum due to their interest in natural history. This covered 15 acres and they included species from the area, eastern seaboard, and from overseas. By 1850, it was highly regarded and the new concept of gatherings being held in public outdoor places.

* In the 20th century, the heirs began to lose interest and Pierce’s Park deteriorated.

* In 1906, Pierre du Pont bought the land with the primary intention of saving the trees.

* In 1907, he laid out his first flower garden on the property.

* That garden was so successful that in 1909 he began hosting summertime events.

* Five years later, his Open Air Theater began.

* By 1915, and extension was built onto the old Pierce farmhouse, creating his winter conservatory for his new bride.

* The conservatory that I visited was built in 1921.

* From 1925 to 1927 the Water Gardens were constructed.

* In 1929 to 1930, the Chimes Tower was constructed.

* In 1930, what is reported to be the largest organ in the world, was built in the ballroom.

* During the 1930’s, du Pont bought adjoining land and the size of the property increased.

* Operations slowed markedly during WWII.

* In 1944, Mrs. Du Pont passed away. Pierre du Pont retreated to Wilmington, visiting Longwood Gardens on weekends.

* All along du Pont had thought about planning for the best financial situation for the gardens.

* From 1946 to 1956 the property became public via du Pont’s forming of a foundation. Hence the beginning of the Longwood Foundation.

* From 1956 to 1966 the property began a focus of educating the public. The Desert House, lily gardens, and other gardens were constructed.

* 1966 to 1976, improvements continued, including the Palm House. Professional education programs began, including the Longwood Graduate Program in Public Horticulture.

* 1976 to 1986, displays became more prominent; fireworks, fountain shows, and the Christmas Display all began.

* From 1986 to present, a focus on the artistic elements of the gardens, as well as continued funding and planning occurred. Public spaces, such as the three tree houses, continue to be built. And in 2011, Longwood begins to turn green as related to energy.

I do not typically enjoy historical recounts but I have to say, how Longwood Gardens came to be is very interesting to me. Thank goodness that two men and their families had the vision and the finances to move this timeline along. As a result, you and I have an amazing place to visit, enjoy, and broaden our base of knowledge.

“I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity; that is, I have purchased a small farm. I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition and making it a place where I can entertain my friends.”

— Pierre du Pont wrote to a friend soon after purchasing the Pierce farm in 1906

The Plants, the Structures, and the Grounds.

The sights and scents.

I wish I had known the historical information prior to my maiden adventure to Longwood Gardens. As I leaned against amazingly gorgeous pillars in order to steady my camera, I thought to myself "These are amazing replicas". In fact, they were not replicas. They were the real deal.

The plants and trees were amazing. Beyond words. Everywhere you turned, people were trying to capture the beauty with their cameras. I have no other words to describe the beauty.

Even though the grounds were covered in snow, and many of the outdoor gardens were "closed for your safety", it was still a visual feast. I can not wait to see the topiary garden, the chimes tower close-up, the tree-houses, and the water fountain gardens in the other three seasons.

Activities for Children

I didn't see a bored or crying child the entire day.

Everywhere I looked, there were children who were enjoying themselves. Older elementary and middle school aged children were looking at the plants. Some of those children had small booklets, that appeared to be checklists or plant identification booklets of some sort. One boy was so lost in his plant book and looking at the plants, sitting on the floor, moving from one grouping of plants to the next, that I was dying to ask what it was he was doing. But I did not want to intrude and break his focus.

Younger children had laminated scavenger search cards. I peeked over one mother's shoulder as she kept asking her younger daughter if she is seeing any of those things. The cards were lovely cards with groups of photos of items that could be found in the conservatory. I assumed it was a scavenger search activity provided by Longwood Gardens.

Children (and adults) of all ages played with abandon in the children's garden. The fantastical fountains and games were wonderful. I could have spent all day in that area alone.

Even outside, the children ran (not in an bothersome manner) and explored. Stopping to listen to the tower chimes play.

A few more items that might be of interest for the botanical garden lover.

Click the Amazon "buy now" button to see more information about that item or search for your own items of interest. Happy exploring.

Umbra Orchid Metal Jewelry Tree, Gunmetal Gray
Umbra Orchid Metal Jewelry Tree, Gunmetal Gray

A beautiful way to display your favorite jewelry.

 
Crystal Palaces, American Garden Conservatories
Crystal Palaces, American Garden Conservatories

Writings about a variety of conservatories; including Longwood Gardens.

 
Flowers 2015 Gallery Calendar (Workman Gallery Calendar)
Flowers 2015 Gallery Calendar (Workman Gallery Calendar)

A daily calendar that bring flowers to your desk.

 

A Few Helpful Links:

My hope is that you will be able to enjoy a visit to Longwood Gardens. If you are not near Pennsylvania, I hope you are able to visit a conservatory or botanical gardens near you.

Where to Find Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens Address:

1001 Longwood Road

Kennett Square, PA 19348

Visitor Center Coordinates:

39d52’10.25”N (latitude)

75d40’15.67”W (longitude)

My GPS did not recognize their address. Later, I found this blurb on their website:

"If your GPS does not recognize the 1001 Longwood Road address, we suggest trying "399 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348," They also list additional neighboring addresses.

I am a hesitant traveler. I do not like "sardine can" crowds, difficult parking situations, and places that are difficult to navigate. It is notable that their entrance is clearly marked with large signs, making a GPS unnecessary. Parking was amazingly easy, as was finding my way around. While some of the paths inside the conservatory were narrow, with the exception of passing groups of people who were paused in conversation, I never felt like a sardine. If I had my young children with me, I would not attempt to take a large stroller. But otherwise, navigating through the gardens was a comfortable experience.

I would love to hear from you, whether you are a fan of Longwood Gardens, another botanical garden, or if you just want to say hello.

Are You a Botanical Garden Fan?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Tom Maybrier profile image

      Tom Maybrier 3 years ago

      Wow, this is so beautiful! I wish I had someplace like this in my area!

    • jennabee25 profile image

      Jenn Dixon 3 years ago from PA

      I was just there in July. I hadn't been to Longwood Gardens since the second grade at that point. Your photos are beautiful!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I'm headed here next week! I live 2 hours west, and I'm taking a 3-day vacation to Philly and outlying areas. Also going to take in the Tyler Arboretum on the edge of Ridley Creek State Park, and a Delaware River sailing tour. Will keep you posted! Your pictures are great. I'm going with a friend who's already been there and photographed it, but this will be my first time.

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      What a beautiful and historical place Longwood Gardens appears to be. Funny that you mention the children not being bored... When I'm out and about I often notice how children react to their surroundings and enjoy it when I see them interacting with glee, especially when it involves the captivating beauty of nature.

    • Glenda Motsavage profile image

      Glenda Motsavage 3 years ago from The Sunshine State

      Although a Floridian for the past 14 years, my home State is Pennsylvania, and I visited Longwood Gardens just before I moved South. Like you, I was totally amazed at its beauty and history. I would love to revisit as you mentioned a few things I hadn't seen (i.e. the three tree-houses!). Your fantastic tour has prompted me to search for my photos, as I took hundreds that October day back in 2000. I am partial to tropical plants and foliage, therefore, I adore image #6 (Bird of Paradise) and #7 my favorite flower, the hibiscus. I thoroughly enjoyed your virtual tour!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 3 years ago from Havre de Grace

      I love Longwood Gardens and there is so much to see that I don't think you can do it all in one day. There is also a fabulous restaurant on the grounds which is a delight in itself.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Yes. My favorite so far is Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, but I've just moved to the southeast side of PA so I'm going to get to see Longwood soon!

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      I definitely am and have enjoyed many while traveling.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 3 years ago

      This place is wonderful. We almost had our wedding there.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 3 years ago

      Yes! These gardens contain a wonderful world of flowers and other plants. As such, each is a photographer's playground.

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 3 years ago from BC, Canada

      Looks like an absolutely place to spend the day meandering about. If I ever make it down that way, I will have to visit these gardens.

    • MarathonRunning profile image

      Martina 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe

      Oh, yes! I like visiting botanical gardens. Thank you for this lovely tour, it was very pleasant and soothing. I meet some new plants and enjoyed in your photos. And, that pointed flower: I`m not sure for its English name, but its Latin name is Strelizia Reginae; I call it The Eden Bird.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Never heard of Longwood Gardens, but loved the experience through your guiding lens. In St. Paul, there's a Victorian-era arboretum that I used to love to visit. Your photos are beautiful!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 3 years ago

      Must go here! I am bookmarking this as it isn't out of reach of NJ and am thinking of things to do for our Anniversary weekend getaway.

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Yes! It looks beautiful. I love blue flowers too--that was my favorite photo! Very interesting lens with the timeline and all!

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image

      RaintreeAnnie 3 years ago from UK

      I love gardening and gardens and this is a beautiful place to visit. I could easily spend a day - or two there :)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 3 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Botanical gardens can be such a treat. So much to see and so much beauty. I enjoyed this virtual tour of Longwood Gardens with you. Will have to visit if I find myself in the area of Kennet Square, Pennsylvania.

    • BuckHawkcenter profile image

      BuckHawkcenter 3 years ago

      I've never been to Longwood Gardens but botanical gardens of any variety are favorite places of mine. It's a wonderful place to get inspiration of all kinds. Thanks for the great tour of a beautiful place.

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 3 years ago

      Definitely. Beautiful! On my list of places to visit.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      You bet I am! Love gardens in all shapes and sizes. Small is great, big is great and anything in between is great too!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 3 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I do love botnical gardens. We have a beautiful one in St. Louis where I go to photograph and take photography classes. Thank you so uch for sharing this beautiful garden and your wonderful photos. I love the one with the blue flowers...absolutely stunning!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      I do love botanical gardens! Your photos are beautiful and I have decided a day trip to Longwood Gardens could simply restore your soul. What a fabulous day out. I want to go!