Armchair photo tours: The Conservatory at Longwood Gardens

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An orchid in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania

Photos by Cheryl Landes

Longwood Gardens is among my favorite gardens in the United States. The 1,077-acre horticultural garden consists of more than 20 unique gardens, fountains, an outdoor theater, bell tower, and conservatory.

The Lenni Lenape tribe lived in this area for thousands of years before England claimed the land. In 1700, George Peirce bought 402 acres of this land from William Penn’s commissioners. Samuel and Joshua Peirce, George’s twin grandsons, were interested in natural history and started planting an arboretum there in 1798. The arboretum grew to 15 acres and included speciments they collected from the wild and some of the region’s top botanists.

By 1850, Samuel and Joshua’s arboretum, now called Peirce’s Park, had one of the finest collections of trees in the country and became a gathering place for the locals. They enjoyed community picnics and socials here until the late 1800s.

Family heirs lost interest in the property in the early 1900s, and the arboretum deteriorated. The farm passed through several owners, until a lumber mill operator prepared to cut down the trees for timber. The move caught Pierre S. du Point’s attention, so he bought the farm to protect the trees. At first, he didn’t plan to create Longwood gardens, but his desire for a place to entertain his friends influenced him to transform the property into one of the country’s leading horticultural gardens.

Before du Pont died in 1954, he had established a well-funded arrangement to allow Longwood Gardens to continue for the public to enjoy.

Our tour today focuses on the Conservatory and some of the flowers and plants there. I will post more armchair photo tours of the gardens throughout this series.

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The Main Conservatory

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Hibiscus

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Hibiscuses

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Orchid

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Orchids

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The Silver Garden

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Pitcher plants (left and right) and pineapple (middle)

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Cacti (left), roses (middle), and waterfall (right)

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Roses

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The Main Conservatory

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