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 21, 2015

Longwood in Mid-October

     As part of our itinerary for the Perennial Plant Conference in October, we scheduled a stop at Longwood Gardens on the way back home to Virginia. Though I have been there several times before, this was my first visit in the fall. Since I now work in public horticulture, my time at Longwood is seen with a different set of eyes. I marvel at the seemingly spare-no-expense attitude, and speculate at what needs to take place behind the scenes to make it look as it does. I am not envious; I am actually glad there is a place where people who do what I do are seemingly unhindered by lack of money, personnel, or facilities (even if it only appears that way), and where the public is shown the potential of horticulture.

     Outside the visitors center we were greeted with a display of bananas, Crinum, variegated Manihot, bright yellow mums, and a new-to-me Cassia (C. didymobotrya), seeds of which I have already sourced.
Visitor Center Entrance (2)

Cassia didymobotrya (1)

    We first headed towards the Flower Garden Walk, where several Salvia species and cultivars (especially S. leucantha), dahlias, mums, and ornamental peppers were vying for center stage. Along the way there were containers to admire.
Silver Containers (1)

Open Air Theatre (2)

Flower Garden Walk - Salvia leucantha (2)

Flower Garden Walk (5)

Flower Garden Walk (8)

Flower Garden Walk (10)

Flower Garden Walk (18)

Flower Garden Walk (16)

Flower Garden Walk (24)

     Entering Pierce's Woods, plants more typical of the eastern woodland were showing their fall colors.
Peirce’s Woods (3)

Peirce’s Woods (4)

Peirce’s Woods (5)

Peirce’s Woods (6)

Peirce’s Woods (7)

     At the Conservatory the Chrysanthemum Festival was just getting started, though most were not yet open. However, there were many other things to look at.

Conservatory (11)

Conservatory (8)

Conservatory (13)

Conservatory - Silver Garden (3)

Conservatory - Silver Garden - Agave parryi (2)

     While we were in Philly the local weather forecasters were calling for the first freeze of the season for the next night. With that different set of eyes earlier mentioned, I kept seeing many plants throughout Longwood that would need to be brought indoors for protection, and it looked like it was going to take a Herculean effort to get it all done. The three of us were happy this wasn't going to be our job, and that we could still enjoy all of the tropicals in the garden, including those in their famous waterlily display at the Conservatory.
Nymphaea 'Red Flare'

Nymphaea (1)

Nymphaea 'Director George T. Moore'

     The last stop we made at Longwood was the restroom. Each one of the doors in the green wall leads to an individual, single seat, very private, spacious, unisex restroom. 
Conservatory - Livining Wall -Restroom Pods

     The thing I was most looking forward to seeing at Longwood was the new Meadow Garden, and it did not disappoint. We got lost there, but not directionally. I will need to show you in another post.


  1. Beautiful. I've been there twice and I expect that one almost finds most of it different. What was that structure in "Conservatory 11:? It looked almost like a lampshade with fresh flowers added.

  2. Les, wonderful photos, but then you never fail. :) It has been decades since I visited Longwood and should put that on my bucket list when we get back east. What a chuckle I had viewing the unisex arena.. now that is money to spare. :) Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. So you were there right around the same time we were. We were there on 10/24, you were maybe a few days earlier? Excellent photos. I'm sorry we didn't get to walk through Pierce's Woods.

  4. I visit when I go back home to PA. This year, I too went later in the year. So many of the displays are a visual treat, and it astounds me the work to make them so. They change through the seasons, making the work an even greater challenge for the staff. I enjoy seeing these gardens especially through the eyes as others see them. Lovely images.

  5. What a grand Conservatory. Beautiful shots of the water lilies. What is it covering the pillars, I wonder? The winning shot is that of the green wall by the restrooms: amazing idea!

  6. Those restrooms! I find restrooms very telling, in general, about how a place is kept up, and Longwood's indicates a very tidy and glamorous garden. ;)