We spent the second day of our vacation (Friday, May 22) at Longwood Gardens. Longwood Gardens is located on US Route 1, about 3 miles northeast of Kennett Square, PA. The Gardens were only 5 miles from our hotel, the Best Western Concordville Hotel and Conference Center.
The web-based Wikipedia encyclopedia provides the following description of Longwood Gardens’ early history:
“What is now Longwood Gardens was originally purchased from William Penn in 1700 by a fellow Quaker named George Peirce (1646 – 1734). Although it started as a working farm, in 1798 Joshua and Samuel Peirce planted the first specimens of an arboretum. By 1850 they had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation.
Industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. From 1906 until the 1930s, du Pont added extensively to the property. A world traveler from an early age, du Pont was often inspired to add features to the garden after attending world’s fairs, the most notable additions being the massive conservatory complete with pipe organ, and the extensive system of fountains.
After the completion of the fountains, du Pont began planning for the sustained life of Longwood Gardens after his death. He founded the Longwood Foundation in 1937, and in 1946 the foundation was chartered with running Longwood Gardens for the general education and enjoyment of the public.”
Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the premiere botanical gardens in the United States. Longwood Gardens consists of 1,050 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. In addition, it has more fountains than any other garden in the United States.
We arrived at Longwood Gardens at opening time, 9:00AM. We found beauty at every turn as we strolled through the outdoor gardens.
We saw two fountains while strolling along the Flower Garden Walk, the Round Fountain and the Square Fountain.
We walked through Peirce’s Woods to Large Lake, one of three lakes at Longwood Gardens.
While at Large Lake we also saw the Italian Water Garden and the Canopy Cathedral. The Canopy Cathedral, which overlooks Large Lake, is one of three tree houses on display at Longwood Gardens.
From Large Lake we walked to the Meadow. Visitors can explore the meadow by following mowed paths. We chose to explore the meadow along the mowed path closest to the nearest tree line. By the time we reached the Meadow, the sun was high in the sky and it was hot. The Meadow offers no shade.
We welcomed the shade of the Forest Walk after our short stroll through the Meadow. We discovered Longwood Gardens’ second tree house, Lookout Loft, while in the shady Forest Walk.
Longwood Gardens’ third tree house, The Birdhouse, is located in the Terrace Woodland.
I must admit that Longwood Gardens’ three tree houses delighted me every bit as much as they would a child. The three tree houses are fantastic creations, and I was happy to discover that these tree houses will be staying at the Gardens indefinitely.
After exploring The Birdhouse we visited the Peirce-du Pont house.
Leaving the Peirce-du Pont House, we made our way to Chimes Tower and Waterfall on the west side of the Gardens. The 61-foot-tall Chimes Tower houses a 62-bell carillon. We happened to be at the tower at noon and heard the carillon ring 12 times, as well as play tunes. The sound was beautiful.
Our next stop was at the Idea Garden. I was most fascinated with the various sculptures found in this garden.
We entered the Conservatory at approximately 12:4oPM. For the next 45 minutes we admired the most carefully and meticulously maintained display of flowers and plants that we have seen anywhere.
At 2:00PM we watched the dance of the Main Fountain Garden fountains. The display was spectacular.
As we were leaving Longwood Gardens, we walked through the Topiary Garden.
There is one more thing that I wanted to tell you about … our hotel’s breakfast, which was complimentary. The Best Western Concordville Hotel’s breakfast was excellent, the best we have ever experienced at a hotel. Each morning we filled our plates with our choice of meat (crisp bacon, sausage, or ham), fried potatoes, and scrambled eggs. Bob got a cup of coffee; I got a cup of tea. All those breakfast selections were on one side of the room. On the other side of the room breakfast selections included waffles, cinnamon rolls (warm, soft and delicious), cereals, bagels, juices, fruit and an omelet station. I noticed the omelet station AFTER choosing scrambled eggs. I planned to order an omelet the next morning, only to discover that the omelet station was available only on weekdays.