An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 24, 2013

Longwood Gardens in August - Pt. I

    In reaction the impending arrival of winter, and for the fact that the temps today will barely be above freezing, I thought I would use the time indoors to take a short trip back to August when I visited Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. The other part of this story is that all of my pictures (inlcuding the 327 I took at Longwood) were, until recently, trapped on my old and very dead computer while I figured out how to retrieve them without having to pay someone to do it for me. Obstacle hurdled with surprisingly helpful advice from a Best Buy employee, I can now take you with me, but will do it parts as it is too much for one post, plus I know what attention spans are like these days.

     This was my second trip to Longwood, and as much as I love my family, I am glad I could get none of them to join me. Unhampered by having to worry about the comfort of others, I was free to stroll and linger at will. My first stop out of the visitor center was the Rose Arbor, where I didn't even notice the roses.

Rose Garden Arbor Planters (3)
Elymus arenarius, Caladium, Agave americana (?),
Solenostemon scutellarioides 'Dipt in Wine' (?), and my favorite palm, Bismarckia nobilis

Rose Garden Arbor Planters (2)
Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf', Agave americana (?),
Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls', 
Bismarckia nobilis and pink Angelonia

     I next made my way through the Theatre Garden and towards the Flower Garden Walk, which was one of my favorite places in the garden that day. The Flower Garden Walk is several hundred feet long and bordered on either side with seasonal planting beds. I don't know if they do this every year, but this summer it was planted at one end with purples to reds. ending up with yellows and whites at the other, with many transitions in between. The gardener(s) at Longwood are certainly adept with color.

Flower Garden Walk (5)
Lisanthus and Capsicum annuum 'Purple Flash'

Flower Garden Walk (6)
The red trees in the background are Euphorbia cotinifolia which are more tropical than Pennsylvania. I was occupationally jealous of Longwood's abilitly to store them for the winter.

Flower Garden Walk (1)
Perilla 'Magilla', Pennisetum glaucum 'Purple Majesty' (I think), pink Pentas and pink Lilium

Flower Garden Walk (9)
Caladium and more Euphorbia cotinifolia (this time in shrub form)

Flower Garden Walk (10)

Flower Garden Walk (12)
I was smitten with the new-to-me Gomphrena 'Fireworks'.
I liked its wispy upright habit and its 4' tall height.

Flower Garden Walk (13)
There was a fountain in the middle of the walk surrounded by tree-form Buddleja alternifolia.

Flower Garden Walk (14)

Flower Garden Walk (17)
Dahlia 'Mystic Spirit'  was planted in a sea of
coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) whose name I failed to note.

Flower Garden Walk (19)

Flower Garden Walk (20)
Allamanda cathartica 'Hendersonii'

Flower Garden Walk (21)
Pale yellow Lilium, Rudbeckia, Canna and Hibiscus acetocella 'Mahogany Splendor'

Flower Garden Walk (22)

Flower Garden Walk (23)
Plectranthus argentatus 'Silver Shield' (I think), Lilium 'Zamebesi', Brugmansia,
and Hydrangea paniculata
     At the end of all that color is a hedge with a portal cut through leading to quieter, greener and more natural parts of the garden. We will head there in the next post.

(I will not be posting every picture, but if you would like to view my complete set on Flickr, you can click here.)


  1. Wow, all the pictures are simply gorgeous! I can see why you were smitten with the Gomphrena 'Fireworks' totally looks like it belongs in your yard!

    1. Thanks Cathie. I am not sure you will see the Gomphrena. Judging from Longwood it takes up a lot of real estate. Now if I pull something else out, I might could do it.

  2. Ka-pow! Those are stunning color combos. I really love the gomphrena 'Fireworks' paired with pink lily and burgundy grass. Simply beautiful!

    1. I am borrowing their idea of planting lilies in annual beds to pop out for a little colorful drama.

  3. "Occupational jealousy" - what a great term! I know what you mean about sometimes being glad to be able to wander around without company to annoy when you stop for yet another photo, I tend to drive my other half nuts when we are out together anywhere with plants. or rocks. Or trees. Or water... Some very striking combinations there, soe too striking for my tastes I have to admit, but as ever it takes me ages to read one of your posts because I keep having to look plants up that catch my eye. Pity that Elymus arenarius (which appears to have been renamed Leymus arenarius here) is so invasive, but there again suppose that's what makes it so good at holding sand dunes together.

    1. Janet, I have seen Elymus and Leymus, so I don't which is correct. Fortunately it does not appear to be invasive here, yet. My family is very tolerant of me when we travel, at least the places I drag them are beautiful and are a chance to get outside.

  4. They are such technically skilled gardeners at Longwood. So glad you had the ability to wander at will and take endless photos! Coincidentally, I just pulled out a Euphorbia cotinifolia seedling from my garden yesterday. That is impressive indeed to get them to that size in a greenhouse. And now I know there's hope for all the photos and music stored on dead computers in the attic...

    1. I first encountered the Euphorbia at my last job in the greenhouse as a foliage plant. It did great in containers for the summer, but it never reached the size of Longwood's. I saw a video of one of your fellow Californians, who had one shading a small bluestone patio. It was beautiful.

  5. Thanks for bringing summer color to this wet and gray November day. Gorgeous photos, Les, of a beautiful garden. Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Happy Hanukkah and Thanksgiving to you as well. I think my Baptist mother plans on a little Hanukkah celebration tomorrow night for my wife and son.

  6. Wow, I love that big combo of yellow plants. I wouldn't think that much yellow would look good together, but it really does. I especially liked the combo of the astilbe and rudbeckia.

    1. Hey Jason, it was a little too much yellow for my taste. If they had added a little shot of purple it would have pleased my eyes more.

  7. Intense! What did you think of Longwood? I have several travelogues I never got around to posting, including this garden. I loved the woods and treehouses, but was put off by all the signs concerning the chemically treated lawns and plantings, so the place came across to me as a giant Keep Off the Grass sign! Disappointing.

    1. Lynn, I am glad I did not see those signs. When I visit Longwood, I feel like a poor, but devout, Catholic who has won a trip to Vatican City. This was my first trip seeing it as a public garden employee, so I was looking at things a little differently, as well as gathering some ideas.

  8. I am so hyperventilating !!! ....I wanted to go this spring and missed it...

  9. I can't help but wonder if you've made it to Longwood, then Terrain, if you've managed to see Chanticleer as well. Ask me if my favorite garden is Longwood or Chanticleer and my answer will likely change every other day. Longwood is a formal, structured garden, carefully manicured while Chanticleer is whimsical and unexpected; a "pleasure garden," as they call it. I've taken many friends and family there for their first visit and every one of them is mesmerized by the magic.