Author’s Note: States are reopening their attractions, and Longwood Gardens is now open to the public. This post reflects my own experience of visiting the Gardens after the implementation of safety measures. During this time, please continue to take necessary precautions such as wearing face masks in public/social distancing and consider everything you read about COVID-19 critically. For up-to-date information about the reopening, the official Longwood Gardens website is the most reliable source.
Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a wonderful summer. Today, I am transporting you to Longwood Gardens, one of the leading gardens in the United States.
Certain places in states are beginning to reopen. The CDC says it’s best to keep your activities outside, and that high-risk places include bars and nightclubs. Longwood Gardens spans over 1,077 acres and is an outdoor setting. It is possible to socially distance. Longwood Gardens has reopened to the public as of Wednesday, July 1, and has created safety measures. I visited last weekend, and I’d rate their measures an 11 out of 10 if I could. For those who live around the Pennsylvania area, a trip to Longwood Gardens is an amazing way to spend time outdoors, refresh oneself with a relaxing garden stroll, and simply relax. Spending time in nature is a nice way to temporarily forget what’s happening in the world.
Today’s post will walk you through the safety measures, starting with at-home preparation and ending with your garden departure. I have made the sentences that highlight safety measures bold for your reference and for your convenience.
IN THIS POST:
- KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- ENTERING THE GARDENS
- EXPLORING THE GARDENS
- YOUR DEPARTURE
- SAVORING THE GARDENS AT HOME
- A PICNIC TIP
- OTHER PRACTICAL INFO
- FINAL IMPRESSIONS
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
As of Wednesday, July 1, Longwood Gardens is open to the general public and Members. Timed admission tickets and member reservations are required. You can purchase tickets on the Longwood Gardens site or you can call to reserve tickets.
Here are the current ticket prices:
- Adult (19+ years): $25.00
- Seniors (62+ years): $22.00
- College Student: $22.00
- Youth (5-18 years): $13.00
- Children (0-4 years): $0.00
As of press time (Wednesday, July 8), the operating hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Sunday. The Gardens are closed Tuesdays. The Gardens are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Face masks are mandated for all visitors that are two years or older in both indoor and outdoor settings. Please stay home if you’re feeling unwell.
Don’t forget that you will be doing a lot of walking! We visited on a 90-degree sunny day and walked nearly 10,000 steps. Dress in comfortable clothes. I highly recommend ditching the sandals and wearing worn-in sneakers (Now is not the time to wear those brand-new sneakers for the first time, and sandals can give you blisters). As this is predominantly an outdoor experience, lather on sunscreen on exposed parts of the skin, including your face, chest, and arms. Bring that cute sunhat or baseball cap! It’ll shield you from the sun.
Please bring your own water. The drinking fountains throughout the garden are not currently operating.
ENTERING THE GARDEN
In precedented times, you drive onto the grounds and see an extensive parking lot to your right. You’re welcome to park anywhere. In these times, you’ll see security guards regulating traffic. They’ll re-direct you to a line that starts to your right. Be prepared to have your tickets ready. Road signs are present, reminding visitors that face coverings are required for admittance.
You’re now ready to park. Please note that the Gardens are operating at a limited capacity and are only admitting a certain amount of guests at a time. Therefore, please be courteous and spread out and don’t park right next to a car. The parking lot is absolutely ginormous, and it’s easy to have a distance from other cars. The Gardens website asks visitors to please allow room when parking your vehicle.
Guests walk through the Visitor Center to access the Gardens. Normally, there is a staff member at the end that scans your tickets. Now, visitors must form a socially distanced line outside the Visitor Center. There are six feet markers on the ground that indicate where to stand. As you wait your turn to enter, a message broadcasting through the loudspeaker welcomes you back and explains the new guidelines. There is a new sign that says “Back to Beauty.”
A staff member manages the line and will tell you when you can enter. Staff members are working behind glass at the Visitor Center. You will now self-scan your tickets, but the staff members are there to help you should you have any trouble.
There are restrooms in the Visitor Center, but they are temporarily closed. The restrooms near the Conservatory and Flower Garden Walk are open.
There are crowd control ropes and posts in the Visitor Center. They divide the pedestrian traffic in the building into two parts: Visitors entering the Gardens walk one way, and visitors exiting the Gardens walk by in another place. The visitors entering and exiting the Gardens don’t come into contact with one another.
EXPLORING THE GARDENS
You’re in! If you want to explore everything that the Gardens have to offer, I recommend giving yourself three to four hours.
However, pace yourself and use your best judgment. As temperatures increase, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and get heat exhaustion. Drink your water frequently.
Here are some highlights of Longwood Gardens that may be of interest to you during your visit. Let’s get started!
1. The 1921 Conservatory (and its adjacent gardens)
The conservatory is open! It is one-way only. As you make your way inside, certain attractions are all interconnected here. There is one path that leads you from one attraction to another. Let’s take a look.
After you walk through the Exhibition Hall, you can visit the Orangery.
There’s also the Waterlily Display! This is a summer treasure. You can view over 100 lilies in an outdoor courtyard that is accessed via the Conservatory.
The Bonsai Display is also on the one-way only path!
As the Bonsai Display comes to an end, turn left and head into the Estate Fruit House. When I visited, I saw grapes, strawberries, and cilantro.
As you exit the Estate Fruit House, you’ll follow a path that leads into the Cascade Garden. Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx designed this part of the Gardens.
As you continue to follow the path, you’ll eventually step into the Silver Garden.
Modeled after a dessert landscape, the Silver Garden will transport you to arid places like the American southwest and the Mediterranean. The cacti here are adorable and pretty funny.
That’s a wrap on what you can expect at the Conservatory and its surrounding places. Please note that the Indoor Children’s Garden, Conservatory Music Room, Webb Farmhouses, and Picnic Area remain closed.
Now, take a look at the other places you can visit during your day at the Gardens.
2. Idea Garden
This garden is located east of the Conservatory and is sprawling. Dill even grows here! The layout of this garden and its plants serve as inspiration for home gardens.
3. Chimes Tower and Waterfall
Once you exit the Idea Garden, you’ll see the main fountain displays. Behind these displays, you’ll see the Chimes Tower. This place looks like a scene from a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale.
Completed in 1931, the carillon (Carillon is defined as a musical instrument that is traditionally housed in a building’s bell tower) goes off every hour. You can get very close to the waterfall. I find the loudness of the rushing water very soothing.
4. The Main Fountain Garden
When past visitors think of Longwood Gardens, an image of this particular area probably comes to mind. Photos of this garden are seen on social media, travel brochures, and travel websites. This particular area truly exemplifies the beauty of Longwood Gardens and honors the du Pont family’s dedication to artistry.
The fountains continue to operate during the day. However, Longwood Gardens are renowned for their evening shows that combine lit-up fountains, fireworks, and music. These shows are currently cancelled. The Wine & Jazz Festival is also cancelled.
As you walk through this area, it’s hard to not feel as if you’re walking through an Italian palazzo or French chateau. I forgot that I was in Pennsylvania (Not saying that’s a bad thing! I love the Keystone State).
Don’t forget to head inside and see the Grotto. The flowing water gives an ethereal feel to the surrounding area.
5. Flower Garden Walk/Large and Small Lake
The Flower Garden Walk is located to your right after you exit the Visitor Center. This is a vivid 600-foot long brick walk that is simply bursting with color. Starting in April, you can see tulips, daffodils, alium, foxglove, fritillaria, and bluebells.
There are arrows on the ground telling you where to go and to keep moving forward.
As you continue to walk, you’ll pass through Pierce’s Woods and will eventually reach Large and Small Lake. This part of Longwood Gardens is rich in the English garden tradition. The sprawling lawn evokes a pastoral feel. This is a hallmark of English gardens and is reminiscent of a John Constable or Joseph Turner painting.
It reminds me of Romanticism and the English landscape painting lecture from my Nineteenth-European Century Art class. The land in English paintings reflects a British person’s nationalism toward their country. In England, they would walk and record their observations in diaries. These poetic and romantic sketches were a way to document their experiences.
My art professor said that English gardens, along with paintings of these gardens, show small signs of humanity. The paintings show the harmony between humans and nature.
Walking through this part of Longwood Gardens truly feels like you’re walking through an English painting. I hope this place gives you the same feeling of serenity as it did for me.
Now, as far as the dining options go: You can purchase water, alcohol, and pretzels at a stand near the Conservatory. Markers on the ground indicate where you should stand so that you can maintain a distance from other people. The Beer Garden is open for limited outdoor dining. 1906 and The Café are closed.
Ready to call it a day? You’ll exit the Gardens through the Visitor Center. Please note that once you exit, there is no re-entry allowed.
The store is located in the Visitor Center. However, you can’t currently enter the store through the passageway located in the Visitor Center hallway. You have to enter the store from outside. There is a line outside, as only a certain number of people are allowed inside. People are standing six feet apart and are wearing face masks.
The store carries journals, soap, candles, books, and clothing. There are plants outside that you can buy.
SAVORING THE GARDENS AT HOME
Your time at the Gardens has come to an end, but I highly recommend to take advantage of the online resources that the Gardens have to offer! It’ll make staying at home more enjoyable.
The first thing I suggest is checking out their online classes, especially if you are a horticulture enthusiast. Spring classes and fall semester instruction of Continuing Education classes are cancelled and will start again in 2020. Nonetheless, online classes begin on Monday, July 13. If you enjoy gardening and have some free time, why not sign up for a class? You can use this time to work on yourself, and it will be a wonderful opportunity for self-growth and a great way to further your educational experience. I believe that taking time to complete a class on a subject that fascinates you during these times is the purest form of self-care and that you can work on yourself now.
Here are the available classes:
- Everything About Aquatics (Ends April 5, 2021)
- Everything About Orchids (Ends January 19, 2021)
- Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants (Starts on Monday, July 13, 2020 and ends on Monday, August 24, 2020. The cost is $189).
- Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers (Starts on Monday, July 13, 2020 and ends on Monday, August 24, 2020. The cost is $189).
- Annuals, Perennials, and Vines (Starts on Monday, July 13, 2020 and ends on Monday, August 24, 2020. The cost is $189).
- Savvy and Sensational Succulent Floral Arrangements (Takes place on Monday, July 20, 2020. The cost is $29).
- The Six Seasons of Brandywine Cottage (Takes place on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. The cost is $39).
- Sense-able Classrooms: Streamside Forests and Herbal Gardens (Takes place on Wednesday, August 12, 2020. The cost is $13).
- Floral Design Certificate Exam (Takes place from Friday, October 9, 2020 to Monday, October 12, 2020. The cost is $99).
Another way to keep up with the Gardens and discover new information is by visiting the blog section of their website! You will definitely learn something new. I love this post about how to begin your journey with field sketching. Artist Natalya Zahn shows her art supplies and provides a detailed step-by-step breakdown on how to sketch flowers. I also love this post about how to create your own healing garden. Why not pass the time and get lost in this project? Following the Longwood Gardens blog is an excellent way to discover a new interest or new fact. You can even subscribe to the blog.
A PICNIC TIP
Depending on how far away you live from the Gardens, Longwood Gardens qualifies as a day trip (and you’ll probably be hungry after all that walking!) Why not pack a picnic for your family?
We packed sandwiches, cheese, baby carrots, and crepes. After we left Longwood Gardens, we had a picnic at Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square. It takes nine minutes to drive from the Gardens to the park.
There are picnic tables right next to the Kennett Square Reservoir. There’s also a bunch of trails. There were barely any people when we visited.
OTHER PRACTICAL INFO
If you wish, you can view the online interactive map as you walk through the Gardens. Normally, there are printed maps you can pick up at the Visitor Center. At the current moment, there are no physical maps.
Visiting earlier in the day is better because you want to avoid crowds. You don’t have to leave the Gardens at a specific time. You can stay as long as you want. Parking is free. Longwood Gardens has no tours. Pets are not allowed. You can’t bring outside food into the Gardens, but water is fine.
Longwood Gardens is 30 miles away from Philadelphia, 43 miles away from Lancaster, 110 miles away from Washington D.C., and 130 miles away from NYC. NYC folks- the drive is roughly two hours.
Nature really does boost one’s mental and physical health. Longwood Gardens has made extensive safety measures, and I was very impressed. A day in these Gardens upholds the restorative beauty of nature. I mean, just look at what you can see in the Gardens below.
I hope this post inspires you to visit! Thank you for reading. Stay kind and stay generous.
(P.S.- Want to see the video I made about my day at the Gardens? Check it out below!
Until next time,