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A garden of beauty and history

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By Wayne Lazarus on August 3rd, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

The Garden of Eden may not have been in the United States, but there is certainly a close second to it in Pennsylvania. From its start as a Quaker farm 300 years ago, Longwood Gardens has grown into one of the top gardens in the world, welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually with its variety of plantings, fountains, concerts, theater and fireworks.2010 fireworks

In 1850, Joshua and Samuel Pierce, grandsons of George Pierce, who had purchased the land from William Penn in 1700, had collected and planted a substantial arboretum on the land. By just over fifty years later, the early part of the twentieth century, there was a huge demand for lumber and the timber industry was thriving. There were fears that the property would be sold for its timber.

Pierre du Pont, a great-grandson of the DuPont chemical company founder, purchased what was then Pierce’s Woods to save the trees in 1906. He loved gardening and began creating the variety of plantings and gardens that are on the property. He was fascinated with fountains and incorporated them dramatically throughout the landscape. It was du Pont’s wish that his beautiful Gardens be both protected and enjoyed by the public.

Over 11,000 different plants and trees grace the 1050 acres of the gardens. Outdoors visitors can walk through 20 different gardens, including the Peony Garden, the Wisteria Garden, Idea Garden, Rose Garden, the Theatre Garden and the Topiary Garden with its analemmatic sundial, which was built by du Pont in 1939. mumsInside the four-and-a-half acre Conservatory are another 20 gardens, among them the Tropical Terrace, the Indoor Children’s Garden, the Orchard House, the Cascade Garden and a Fern Passage. Part of the original greenhouse was called the Orangery, because du Pont hoped to grow oranges indoors, year-round.

The site is host to a number of  events throughout the year, including its spectacular Fireworks and Fountains displays scheduled throughout the summer. Through November, the gardens has an interactive exhibition called “Making Scents: the Art and Passion of Fragrance,” which includes plants used in perfume making. It offers participants the opportunity to compose a personal fragrance.

Longwood Gardens is located just outside Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, just 12 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware.

Photos courtesy Longwood Gardens. Used with permission.

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