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Archive for the ‘Longwood Gardens’ Category

1-Longwood-GardenLast spring, Angelina and I chose to skip the hassle of TSA and the rigors of a long plane flight and instead decided on a long-awaited road trip. We packed up the car and headed south on a two-week journey, first to the Brandywine area outside of Philadelphia then on to Washington, DC followed by a meandering ride back home with a stop in Gettysburg. The first leg began with a visit to Longwood Gardens located in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, 30 miles west of Philly.

12-Longwood-Garden-EntranceLongwood had its beginnings in 1906 when Pierre S. DuPont purchased a neglected farm in order to save its arboretum from lumbering and began converting it into what would become one of America’s leading horticultural display gardens.

We arrived early on a sunny Tuesday morning in mid May, got our tickets and headed for the rose garden first. This garden was one of the smaller gardens in Longwood but was well maintained with a dozen beds of bush roses, each bed featuring a single variety. Most were in bud stage with peak bloom still two weeks away. One exception was a dazzling bed of Sparkle & Shine, a bright yellow floribunda.

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City of York – Back of Stone Wall

Just behind Sparkle & Shine was a feature that I especially liked, the unique way the Longwood rose gardeners displayed a row of climbing roses named City of York. These climbers were planted along the back side of a six-foot stone wall and then trained to grow up and over the wall and cascade down the front side. Since both sides of the wall received enough sunlight, they grew beautifully with thousands of tight buds tumbling down the front of this handsome stone wall waiting to open. The bloom must have been stunning.

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Topiary

As a backdrop to the rose garden was a Topiary Garden that contained over 50 specimens of yews in various shapes such as spirals, cones and animals.

We took a break here for a few minutes to enjoy the bright sunny morning then strolled over to the Conservatory, an enormous greenhouse with four acres under glass — twenty rooms of plants from around the world. The day we were there, gardeners were removing the displays of spring flowers soon to be replaced with summer annuals which in turn would be followed by fall plantings. Even though the conservatory was in seasonal transition, room after room featured showy floral displays. Very Impressive.

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Conservatory

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Conservatory

5.-Conservatory

Conservatory

9-Mummies

Mummy Pack

The conservatory even had a Rose Room – one that had several rows of rose bushes. What interested us was the IPM measures employed to control insects. No pesticides were applied but small packets of “mummies” were  scattered among the roses. Tiny wasps emerged from the mummies, looking for aphids on which to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch and the new wasplings eat the aphids which keeps them in check. While not a perfect solution, it seemed to work well enough and avoided chemical pesticides.

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Rose Room

After lunch we wandered over to a section of flower beds that were also in transition from spring to summer. One team of gardeners were digging up clumps of spring bulbs, piling them up into carts then hauling them off to the Longwood compost site. All vegetative matter was converted into compost and nothing was discarded.

Another nearby bed had already been cleared and a gardener was raking it out for planting the next day. According to the gardener, no soil amendments were added at this point but each bed would be amended with compost in the fall when spring bulbs were planted. She went on to say that each section of gardens had dedicated teams that maintained those same beds season after season.

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Wisteria

Nearby was the Wisteria Garden in full bloom. What a display of Japanese wisteria in lavender, purple and white. It was a major attraction and provided visitors with a unique photo op.

By now the weather was getting very warm and we were growing weary so we started back to the car, which was when we noticed the Rose Arbor. This circular arbor surrounded an area which is often used for concerts. We were too early to see the arbors in bloom which would have been a spectacular sight of American Pillar roses chosen by Pierre du Pont himself.

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Rose Arbor

Like other great gardens we have visited throughout the United States and Europe,  Longwood Gardens had clean, modern facilities and the gardens and structures were neat and well maintained with plenty of staff. We had expected a very high degree of horticultural excellence — the ultimate hallmark of every great garden — and were not disappointed. Longwood Gardens should be on every gardeners bucket list.

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