Saturday, September 18, 2010

Longwood Gardens

and QVC Studios

On Monday morning, August 30,

we traveled from the hotel to Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens is the legacy of Pierre S. du Pont,

who is best known as

one of the leaders who helped bring the DuPont corporation

into the 20th Century as well as helping

to direct the development of General Motors.

For these reasons, Pierre S. du Pont is often

thought of as

"the father of the modern corporation."*

*Source: The Heritage of Longwood Gardens

Pierre S. du Pont and his Legacy,

Now, Longwood Gardens has long

been on my Bucket List.

I was very happy to be able to

cross this item off the list.

We arrived at 9 am.

Happily, after our tour coordinator

paid for our tickets,

we were set free to explore the gardens at our leisure.

The only caveat was that we had just three hours

and that we had to also eat lunch in that time.

Longwood is a large place and I knew

that I simply could not see it all in less than three hours.

Thus, I had to choose the most important

areas and focus on those areas.

I can only hope that I can someday get back here.

This time I decided that I would focus on the original garden

that Mr. du Pont set out - the Flower Garden Walk

and the Conservatory.

After that I would see if I had time left to see more

of the gardens.

Lovely vistas abound.

Small gardens delight at every turn.

As I strolled down the garden walk,

I noted that the colors of the flowers melted

from purples to pinks to reds to yellows and finally to whites.

This lovely bloom is perhaps my favorite of the day.

It is an Angel's Trumpet

(Datura); it is in the nightshade family.

Please be warned that this plant is considered

dangerous as when ingested it acts as a narcotic.

Looking down the Flower Garden Walk.

Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Hidden garden at the end of the Flower Garden Walk.

Sadly, I didn't have the time to visit Peirce's Woods.

The Peirce Family were the original

owners of the property.

Carnivorous potted plants.

Looking up the Flower Garden Walk.

Another missed opportunity this day.

The unassuming house.

On this day I had to forgo a tour of the house.

Mr. du Pont later added a conservatory and

second wing to the house.

And now for the piece do resistance -

I planned to spend most of my time here.

At about 4 and 1/2 acres,

Longwood's Conservatory is one of the largest

conservatories in the world.

The Main Fountain Garden

sits just to the south of the Conservatory.

There is a lot to see.

We'd better get going.

The Orangery.

Mr. du Pont hoped to grow oranges here,

but that didn't work out too well.

The Exhibition Hall.

An employee told me that there are two bougainvillea

vines in this area that were planted in 1921.

They now cover much of the room and are spectacular

when in bloom.

The East Conservatory.

Tell me you can't see yourself

sitting beside this pool and relaxing.

Interestingly, Mr. du Pont

never envisioned keeping this beauty

to himself.

Almost from the start,

he began to make plans to ensure

that these gardens would endure.

In 1914 Mr. du Pont formed

Longwood, Inc.

In 1937 he created Longwood Foundation

so that the gardens would be funded

even after his death.

The ballroom.

The organ.

Exhibition Hall.

The Exhibition Hall can be flooded

with a couple of inches of water

or it can be drained and used as a banquet space or

dance hall.

I walked out to the Waterlily Display area

and saw this vehicle filled with

ornamental pepper plants.

What a colorful display.

Not an inch of space was left to go to waste.

The Waterlily Display area

is open May through October.

Waterlilies and other aquatic plants grace

several ponds.

A varigated waterlily.

Ah, so that's were the ornamental pepper plants are going.

A newer area in the conservatory is the

Indoor Children's Garden.

The garden is child-size, although

adults can certainly wander in this garden.

Some children at play.

Bamboo in the East Conservatory.

The Accacia Passage.

The Orchid House.

The Banana House is just beyond

the Orchid House.

And now for the orchids.

The Mediterranean Garden

The Palm House

The Bonsai Hall

The Rose House

Tropical Terrace

Phal orchid in the Tropical Terrace room.

The Estate Fruit House.

Mr. du Pont was intrigued by the idea

of being able to grow food year round.


Pineapples are bromeliads.

Grapevines grow overhead.

The Silver Garden

The Main Fountain Garden.

Mr. du Pont was fascinated by water

and used every opportunity to use it in the landscape.

In the Italian Water Garden

(unseen on this visit),

Mr. du Pont had a Water Staircase.

At one time he directed his nieces and nephews

to sit on the staircase so that they might pose

for a photo.

Then at the appropriate moment,

he turned on the water, to the shocked delight

of the children.

A closed section of the Main Fountain Garden.


some repairs need to be done here.

Note the lightning protection wire on this tree.

In order to lend an established feel

to the gardens,

Mr. du Pont had several mature trees

brought in to the gardens.

Now, to protect these old trees,

Lightning protection wires help to direct

lightning strikes away from the trees

and down into the ground.


I offer you this sepia-toned photo of a young child running

across the grass.

We learned that Longwood employs 300 people,

with 140 of those being full-time.

If you are ever in the Philadelphia area,

you really should plan to visit Longwood Gardens.

My only real complaint is that Longwood does not

have a good book on the gardens.

I did purchase the book,

The Heritage of Longwood Gardens,

but at a mere 48 pages,

it was a disappointment.

I was rather hoping for some more

substantial insight into the history of the estate

and the current management of the gardens.

While I was relaxing on the bus after my enjoyable,

but too short tour,

our tour coordinator announced that our next stop

would be the QVC Studios.

Huh? Oh, that's right.

I guess I had forgotten all about that part of the tour.

QVC Studios in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Once inside we were informed that

photography really wasn't appreciated.

We had to go through a metal detector and

our bags were searched before we could take the tour.


Yep, it was a studio.

We learned that QVC stands for




A couple of the women on our tour

are apparently huge fans of QVC.

The rest of us?

Not so much.

It was interesting, though.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

The gardens are exquisite.
I think I would have stayed on the bus for the QVC part.