site site.xsl LongwoodGardens
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This greenhouse displays gray and silver-foliaged plants adapted to the dry, arid landscape of the Mediterranean and desert regions. The meandering shape of the gray-blue slate hints of a dry streambed as would be found on the floodplain of a desert. Rock outcroppings catch the eye in the middle, and the "stream" disappears behind the boulders.
Evolving in an environment of drying winds, searing temperatures, and intense light, plants learn to adapt or perish. These plants survive aided by silver-colored foliage to reflect light, by succulent leaves and stems to store water, and by long tap roots. Hairs, waxy coatings, spines, and cupped leaves also help trap moisture or reduce transpiration.
Noteworthy plants: encephalartos (Encephalartos lehmannii), dragon-tree (Dracaena draco), old man cactus (Cephalocereus senilis), century-plant (Agave americana), olive (Olea europaea)
This narrow passageway is named for the small cinnamon wattle (Acacia leprosa) trees trained to arch over the walkway. Delicate cascading branches adorned with feathery foliage are covered with fluffy yellow flower clusters in late January and early February. Both the flowers and leaves of this unusual acacia give off a uniquely memorable scent. Just after flowering, the smaller stems are pruned back severely to the main branches. Soon, lush new growth quickly emerges and new flower buds develop for next year's bloom.
Noteworthy plants: cinnamon wattle (Acacia leprosa), African podocarpus (Podocarpus gracilior), English ivy (Hedera helix)
This house features one of the principal food crops of the world—the banana. Twenty different types are grown at Longwood Gardens and range from the towering 30-foot plantain to the dwarf banana that is easily grown in a container. It takes 12 to 18 months from the time a banana begins growth for fruit to be produced.
Noteworthy plants: plantains and dwarf bananas
A plantain plant looks almost identical to a banana plant. A plantain fruit is blockier in shape and has more pronounced ribs. They are best eaten after boiling, steaming, baking, frying, roasting or toasting, although some types can be eaten raw when fully ripened.
This room houses the best of Longwood’s more than 3,200 different types of orchids. At any one time approximately 200 to 500 plants at peak bloom add color and scent the air. Ferns, ivies, and peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) provide a green backdrop for the myriad of blossoms.
Orchids originate from diverse regions of the world and constitute one of the largest and most sophisticated plant families with highly specialized floral structures. Longwood's orchids are grown in different greenhouses with specific lighting, temperatures and humidity to acclimate to their original regions. Longwood’s collection includes specimens from Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Himalayan and Andes Mountains, and Caribbean and South Pacific Islands.
The Orchid Display is consistently rated as one of the most popular indoor areas by Longwood's visitors.
Noteworthy plants: cattleyas (Cattleya), lady-slippers (Paphiopedilum), pansy orchids (Miltonia), dendrobiums (Dendrobium), moth orchids (Phalaenopsis)
Visitors enter this tropical garden of lush foliage and a dark pool through the dangling 20-foot-long spaghetti-like aerial roots of the princess-vine suspended from the ceiling. Familiar house plants, such as philodendrons, ficus and peace lilies as well as many unusual tropical plants with bold textures and bright colors are displayed here.
The jungle-like environment is enhanced by a rabbit’s-foot fern hanging in the center of the greenhouse, planted in 1953 and weighing approximately 500 pounds. A man-made fiberglass tree covered with cork bark supports a variety of tropical epiphytic plants, and a nearby grouping of colorful crotons adds to the appeal of this greenhouse.
Noteworthy plants: princess-vine (Cissus sicyoides), rabbit’s-foot fern (Davallia fejeensis), anthurium (Anthurium warocqueanum), peacock-plant (Calathea makoyana)
To ensure bloom out of season, Longwood's gardeners subject the roses in the Rose House to a period of summer dormancy in July, induced by withholding water and by severe pruning.
Chinese hibiscus plants were added to the terraced beds to extend seasonal interest, and brick planter boxes were installed and offer a changing display of various blooming plants. Flowering vines native to tropical regions were added in the 1970s to provide a backdrop.
Noteworthy plants: hybrid tea roses, Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), bougainvillea (Bougainvillea x buttiana), flame-vine (Pyrostegia venusta), queen’s wreath (Petrea volubilis)
Redesigned in 1992 by Roberto Burle Marx, the Cascade Garden is a visually exciting display which takes advantage of the vertical feeling of the greenhouse. Water cascades splashing into clear pools and lush, richly-textured plants clinging to the walls and carpeting the ground are featured. Of special interest are the bromeliads, many of which are epiphytic plants (plants that grow on and use other plants for support but are not parasitic upon them) that naturally grow high in the tops of trees.
Noteworthy plants: earth-stars (Cryptanthus), giant alcantarea (Alcantarea imperialis), philodendrons (Philodendron pinnatifidum)
A walk through this cool, green passageway of ferns and their relatives is a welcome and quiet retreat. Boston, rabbit’s-foot and bird’s-nest ferns are familiar to many of us as house plants; they grow here among other tropical relatives such as the unusual tree and staghorn ferns.
Noteworthy plants: Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), rabbit's-foot ferm (Davallia fejeensis), staghorn fern (Platycerium), wooly tree fern (Dicksonia fibrosa), bird’s-nest fern (Asplenium nidus), maidenhair fern (Adiantum)
Four small display areas in two alcoves of the Fern Passage hold a fascinating collection of insect-catchers. In the wild, these plants grow in acid bogs where nitrogen is chemically tied up in the soil and is unavailable for nutrition. Leaf adaptations allow them to capture insects or secrete enzymes that break down animal proteins into usable nitrogen.
Pitcher-plants have a modified leaf structure (called a pitcher) into which insects slip and drown in trapped enzymes. Sundews seize insects on their sticky leaves, and the Venus' flytrap closes its leaves on prey when trigger hairs are stimulated.
Also found among the insect-catching plants are the Nepenthes, which are native to southern Asia, Borneo and the Philippines.
Since these plants are grown indoors without insects, they receive diluted liquid fertilization to satisfy their nutrient requirements (full strength fertilizer is harmful to these plants).
Noteworthy plants: pitcher-plant (Sarracenia), Venus' flytrap (Dionaea muscipula), sundew (Drosera adelae), tropical pitcher-plant (Nepenthes hybrids)
The Estate Fruit House melds vintage fruit-growing techniques with a contemporary garden design. Essentially a sculpture garden, the 140’ x 27’ Fruit House exhibits continually changing patterns of light and shadow within the bold, three-dimensional structure of formally trained nectarine trees, grape vines, and melon plants. The fruit shapes and leaf textures of lemons, tomatoes, figs, and other fruits add to the garden’s sensuous nature.
The heated greenhouses mimic spring temperatures in the midst of winter, forcing plants to bear fruit earlier than they would outdoors, and allowing gardeners to grow plants that are not hardy in Pennsylvania. Fruit is produced at least a month ahead of the outdoor season by controlling heating and ventilation. A mature nectarine tree can yield about 200 nectarines every year; each grapevine, about 12 bunches of grapes.
Noteworthy plants: nectarines (Prunus persica var. nucipersica), grapes (Vitis), melons and tomatoes (varieties of melons and tomatoes vary from season to season)
The bonsai display was started in 1959 with the purchase of 13 specimens. Several of the originals remain, along with additional plants that have been acquired over the years.
Bonsai is an ancient art that originated in China and was further developed in Japan. Gardeners periodically prune roots, branches and leaves to keep bonsai from outgrowing their containers. The gardeners also train plants into a variety of forms by pruning and wrapping wire around the stems. This permits branches to be bent and trained into the desired positions. The wires are eventually removed.
Noteworthy plants: Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), crape-myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
In the palm house, the sound of rushing water and the unusual palms and cycads under-planted with lush groundcover plants create a tropical feeling throughout the year.
Cultivated for centuries, palms are used for clothing, shelter, fuel and food. Cycads are an ancient, non-flowering group of plants closely related to pines and other conifers. Prolific in the age of the dinosaurs, cycads today are considered living fossils.
Noteworthy plants: three-cornered palm (Dypsis decaryi), queen-palm (Cycas circinalis), wild date palm (Phoenix sylvestris), bottle palm (Hyophorbe lagenicaulis), clustered fishtail palm (Caryota mitis)
This greenhouse is a celebration of plants grown in Mediterranean-type climates from around the world. These regions, which are characterized by moist, cool winters and hot, dry summers, include portions of southern California, Chile, the Mediterranean Sea basin, South Africa and western Australia. Plants from these regions require high light levels, good air circulation, and at Longwood are subjected to a minimum temperature of 40°F.
Noteworthy plants: pepper-tree (Schinus molle), sisal (Agave sisalana), protea (Protea cynaroides), kangaroo-paws (Anigozanthos), coral-pea (Hardenbergia violacea ‘Happy Wanderer’), Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas ‘Willow Vale’), crimson bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus 'Jeffersii')
Tucked into a protected courtyard, this outdoor display features a wide variety of aquatic plants from all over the world. The pools are filled with more than 100 types of day and night-blooming tropical waterlilies, hardy waterlilies, lotuses, giant water-platters and other aquatic and bog plants. The display was originally constructed in 1957 with 13 curving pools. It was subsequently redesigned into 5 larger pools to accommodate a greater variety of plants and reopened in 1989.
The water in the 30"-deep pools is mixed with an organic black dye to slow algae growth and to accentuate the plants, but this does not harm the fish or plants. The small fish in the pools are mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) which feed upon mosquito and other insect larvae in shallow pools.
The giant hybrid water-platter in the center pool was first successfully hybridized at Longwood Gardens. The two South American parent species of this plant grow in the smaller side pools. Gardeners raise the enormous hybrid water-platter from seed started in late February each year. By summer, plants can produce spiny, 6-foot-diameter leaves in a matter of weeks. Each fully grown leaf can reliably support 80 to 100 pounds if the weight is evenly distributed.
The outdoor waterlily display is open from early June through mid-October. Peak bloom occurs mid-July through the end of September.
Noteworthy plants: Longwood hybrid water-platter (Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid'), East Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), Longwood hybrid waterlily (Nymphaea ‘Antares’), papyrus (Cyperus papyrus), Longwood hybrid cannas, day and night-flowering waterlilies (Nymphaea)
element callout2.xsl WhatsinBloom
A team of Longwood Volunteers gathers horticultural highlights from the Outdoor Gardens and Conservatory. Download a pdf of their top picks for the week, including photos and locations.
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Journey to the wild, remote flood plains of South America and to the great gardens of Europe and North America to discover Victoria, the waterlily queen.
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When you visit our Idea Garden you will discover something new: our first-ever Trial Garden on view for our guests. This square space houses more than 250 cultivars within 10 genera: Clematis, Dahlia, Paeonia, Capsicum, Agastache, Salvia, Pentas, Lantana, Colocasia, and Canna.
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Enjoy family-fun activities, an outdoor concert, and behind-the-scenes experiences.
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