June 19, 2012

Visiting: Longwood Gardens

This Friday I went up to Delaware to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Tom Jones (remember them? They're doing great!). Mrs. TJ picked me up at the bus stop (oh, Greyhoud!), and we drove off to Longwood Gardens, one of the most beautiful and, dare I say, innovative garden estates in the country.   We had a picnic, and then explored Longwood, which I hadn't visited in 5 years - and last time it was at Christmas.

Longwood is one of the old DuPont estates, and it is huge. There are parts (like the Italian Fountain Garden, above) that are formal and unchanging - and glorious. They have long beds of flowers that rotate according to seasons: a rainbow of tulips in the spring, cutting flowers like lysianthus and astilbe. There are a couple 200 year old wisteria trees - all knotty and sculptural with age.

They have also installed a truly incredible light exhibit for the summertime. There are a few photos below, but they hardly do justice. A field along one of the ponds (with two singing bullfrogs and a flock of goslings) has thousands of little bulbs that cycle through the colors of the rainbow. They don't move at the same time or pace; some groups rotate through the colors quickly, others very slowly and gradually, giving a beautiful movement effect. (Here's a video, but it doesn't really do it justice.)

Longwood is known for their light and fountain shows (a Victorian pastime that is surprisingly diverting), their tree houses (below), their long lawns and stunning vistas, and, my favorite, their conservatory. It is a place on endless inspiration: colors, scents, perspective, innovative installations (like the living wall in the conservatory that surrounds the bathrooms - pictured below) and the delicate balance between the traditions of the estate and new science and trends all create a marvelous and thrilling place well worth visiting again and again. I still kick myself that I didn't go every week or so when I lived in the area.

I have at least a hundred photos, but I wanted to give you a sense of the diversity of the place. You'll probably see more in the coming weeks.  Just visit, ok. Even if it's a little out of your way, it is well worth the time. Plus you can pull over to their picnic gardens (just off the grounds) for some lovely relaxing sunshine and eats (below).


  1. Oooh, excellent choice. Longwood is incredible (and a worthy rival to Winterthur, I have to admit.) I wish I had visited all their treehouses when I was a kid. Have you been to Versailles-like Nemours? Sadly, I never made it there.

  2. you know, I never made it there, or really in-depth at Winterthur, which is even more of a shame because it was just around the corner from my office. but i'll be back...

  3. Theresa English9:48 PM

    I see you made it to Light. I'm curious to see it. Haven't picked a day to go yet...