Monday, February 26, 2024

Visiting Longwood Gardens

The 2023 Fling kicked-off in style last September at Longwood Gardens. Because our Fling Organizer in Chief, Karl Gercens, is the Conservatory Manager at Longwood Gardens, our visit began with a behind-the-scenes look at the growing grounds that produce the plants that create the amazing displays at Longwood. 

My group started with the Victoria amazonica water lilies and this full-of-personality fellow who told us all about them...

It was interesting to watch the reaction of people who had never seen these super-structure lily pads up close. 

Our entertaining speaker had plenty of props for his brief talk.

We also saw these bonsai specimens in holding. My camera did a little malfunction thing while we were being told about the plants (quickly fixed), so I admit to not paying a lot of attention to the "why" these specimens were here, rather than in the garden. Perhaps because there is an entirely new conservatory area currently under construction (info here)

I was rather enchanted with that interesting kalanchoe container on the far right.

With moss and sedum it was a whole little world in and of itself.

After a few more fabulous behind-the-scenes-moments we were set free to wander the gardens at Longwood with instructions to meet up around 6pm for dinner, which would be followed by one of the famous Longwood illuminated fountain performances (which really was pretty spectacular). Here's where I admit to being completely overwhelmed though.

I knew Karl (our host) pre-Fling, because he contributes photos to Back when I was part of team plant lust, Karl came through town and we all got together for food and drinks and talk—the first I'd heard of Longwood. Thus in my head the conservatories are Longwood. That was all I'd really planned to see there, but suddenly I was outside walking around in cool gardens.

Not that I was complaining.

From their website: "One of the world’s great gardens, Longwood’s story is one of legacy, innovation, and stewardship. Spanning more than 1,100 acres, our Gardens showcase horticultural splendor, intricate fountain systems, architectural grandeur, and so much more—all with conservation at the core of our mission."

There was obviously a lot to see, so I tried to quickly orient myself to the map.

Then I realized since the conservatory was what I knew, I just needed to make sure it was what I saw, so I worked my way in that direction.

Well, kind of, I mean it was a beautiful day in a beautiful garden, I did wander a bit.

Peirce-du Pont House

With it's attached conservatory space, the first on the property.

Ah the topiary...

I really wanted to walk among the large shapes, but time was marching on and I needed to get over to the conservatory.
And so I did, can you imagine having this to wander through in the wintertime?

I went straight to the back of the building to see the Silver Garden...

"California native Isabelle Greene to created the Silver Garden, a modernist display of plants native to Mediterranean and desert climates. With its contemporary design direction, this garden was groundbreaking for us, as well as a visual departure from the formal approach seen throughout the Conservatory complex. After much discussion, we embraced the opportunity to innovate and evolve with Greene. With its angles, slopes, and curves, it conveyed a realistic desert landscape experience that contrasted with the flower-filled Orangery and Acacia Passage. When it opened to the public in 1989, the Silver Garden was overwhelmingly embraced by our guests." (source)

Choice Agave victoriae-reginae...

A sea of Tillandsia albida...

And mound of Deuterocohnia brevifolia...

Squirmy Haworthiopsis coarctata below the tillandsia.

Agave parryi 'Ohi Kissho ten Nishiki'

Such a dreamy container grouping.

But there's more! Agave attenuata...

And another, positively ginormous, agave (perhaps americana?).

Lepismium cruciforme

Agave parryi.

Part One of my visit to Longwood ends here, with this magnificent cycad. Come back on Wednesday for more, including a look at the best public bathrooms in all of America...

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All material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. That conservatory is beautifully curated. It couldn't be more perfect.

  2. Gorgeous. Really enjoyed seeing this--thanks!

    1. There's more! (and entire sections I didn't even photograph...)

  3. Amazing no matter where you decide to turn.

  4. I'm one of those folks who never experienced Victoria amazonica lily pads in person... it can still happen. It will be mind blowing when it does.
    Wouldn't it be grand if a conservatory was attached to every home? I like silvery plants though I think they show better with a bit of contrast, as in the "dreamy container grouping", or with the (well described) "Squirmy" Haworthiopsis coarctata bellow the silver Tillandsia.

    1. Those lily pads are so amazing... I hope you get to see them in person. And yes to the conservatory with every home! I used to scheme on how I would add one to my very small home in cold Spokane. Of course it was all a dream as I was too poor to every build such a thing. It was lovely in my mind though.

  5. Wonderful to read about your garden visit and what to expect when we visit this summer.

    1. You'll be going to Chanticleer too I hope?


  6. Great overview of a great visit. Amazing photos, too, Loree!

  7. Love Longwood Gardens! I was there about 45 years ago and I can imagine how it has changed and grown since then!

  8. Nice to see cacti and succulents done well in a conservatory setting. It's not often that you see a good display last for decades.

    1. You're right, so often the cacti and succulents look like a criminal line-up.


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