Picture Perfect Day: Longwood Gardens
Each quarter the LAN Exteriors blog will feature a report on a daytrip to an extraordinary outdoor venue in or near our service areas of New Jersey, Southern Upstate New York, or Eastern Pennsylvania. We visit locations that showcase landscape excellence, are inspirational, and transport you to a different world, even if just for a few hours. Our first report showcases Longwood Gardens in nearby Kennett Square, PA. A visit to these famous gardens will undoubtedly enhance your perspective of the unseen beauty of our region.
Paradise Found. As I exit the Longwood Garden’s visitors center, tastefully buried deep inside a landscaped hillside, my intuition tells me to head directly to the Conservatory for a stroll through the Orchid Extravaganza, this seasons showcase display and the reason for my visit today. But instead I’m tempted by the mild air on this El Niño winter day to take a detour and head through the outdoor gardens instead. I turn right and find myself lost in Peirce’s Woods alongside tall pines and calming lakes. Delight begins to take over as I begin to feel as if I’m walking through a picture perfect fairy tail forest. I still and stare at the lake as the stress from work, just two hours away, melts away. As I turn the corner I stumble upon the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse, a two level treehouse inspired by a Norwegian Church. Children’s laughter fills the air as the little ones run and play in this storybook setting.
Further up the path, past the Italian Water Garden, I exit the forest and enter the vast 86-acre Meadow Garden. You can spend hours hear walking through the open countryside and meadows on three plus miles of paths. While the meadows are full of native wildflowers and vegetation, I can’t help but feel I’m in a far off place. A visit to the Webb Farmhouse & Galleries, located at the far side of the Meadow Garden is not to be missed.
My hike through this vast terrain has left me hungry, so I head off to lunch at The Café. This high-end food court meets farm-to-table cooking is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat. I sample the famous Kennett Square Mushroom Soup and decide its simply too good to not order an entire bowl. I accompany my soup with a roasted vegetable and mozzarella panini and a thick iced chocolate brownie. This meal provided the perfect fuel source for my afternoon at Longwood Gardens. For those of you who are looking for a full service dining option, try 1906, Longwood Gardens Fine Dining Room featuring their famous Kennett Square Mushroom Soup and an extensive menu of farm-to-table entrees and drinks served in a picturesque setting.
After lunch I backtrack to the Peirce-du Pont House to learn about the history of the gardens and visit their first conservatory. This house was built in 1730 by the Peirce family and purchased in 1906 as a summer home for the du Pont family. After all these detours, I’m finally ready to head to the main Conservatory and check out the Orchid Extravaganza.
To call this building a greenhouse is an understatement. Instead, it is one of the greatest conservatories and greenhouse structures in the world. It houses over 5,500 different varieties of plants throughout twenty separate indoor gardens. If you need a bathroom break upon entering, head to the Green Wall, where individual restrooms are hidden behind a lush green jungle of foliage on the longest green wall in North America. As you stroll through the different gardens in the Conservatory prepare to have your breath taken away. Each garden is more delightful than the next, from the desert to the tropical rainforest, this conservatory seems to have it all.
Orchid displays can be found throughout the conservatory gardens, but when I step foot in the great Exhibition Hall I’m instantly immersed in the sight and scent of the Orchid Extravaganza. The beautiful orchids were amongst the first to be cultivated at Longwood Gardens and a favorite of Pierre du Pont. These storied plants are crafted into beautiful displays that will have you cleaning out your photo albums for extra space. I spend some time just relaxing by the large water displays and realize how lucky we are to have one of the world’s greatest gardens so close to home. After a full day at the gardens I feel ready to head back to the real world and take on the upcoming week.
As I leave Longwood Gardens I feel inspired by all the orchids and thirsty for a tropical drink that showcases them. I decide to head into nearby Philadelphia for a Mai Tai, complete with Orchid garnish, at my favorite tiki bar in trendy Fishtown, The Yatchsman. This is the only place I’ve been able to find in the Northeast to make a legitimate Mai Tai that rivals what you’d be served while relaxing on the beach in Hawaii. Happy Hour leaves me feeling hungry yet again, so I head over to White Dog Cafe in the University City neighborhood for some local farm-to-table cooking and their own take on Kennett Square Mushroom Soup – you can decide who has the better version.
Did we inspire you? Longwood Gardens is nearby and a great day trip from most of our service area. Extend the fun and spend the night in Philadelphia for the perfect evening after your perfect day.
1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348
1444 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104