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Longwood strives to be a model for recycling and re-use for the community. Our environmental practices are firmly grounded in our mission as the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, inspiring people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the arts.
Longwood has instituted a recycling task force, whose vision is to keep eliminating the amount of trash that we send to landfill until, one day, there is no trash to take away because it was all reduced, recovered, re-used or recycled.
Currently, Longwood recycles:
• All paper products and cardboard (except waxed cardboard)
• Florescent bulbs
• Food waste
• Horticultural waste
• PCs and monitor
• Plastics (#’s 1 through 5), plastic flower pots
• Scrap metal
• Waste oil
Longwood Gardens began its compost program in the early 1990s. Today, all horticultural debris and food residuals are collected, composted and returned to the Gardens to enhance our site.
Our composting program collects 8,000 cubic yards of discarded organic material from on-site and local contractors annually and saves $50,000 to $200,000 in costs to landfill discarded organic matter.
Composting is the process of using active, controlled decomposition to recycle waste organic matter into various finished products that are useful for growing plants and improving soil.
Compost can be made in many different ways but always involves gathering organic matter into piles or bins and then harnessing and accelerating the natural process of decomposition. It requires green (nitrogen-rich) materials, brown (carbon-rich) materials, air, water, and decomposers like microbes and earthworms. Mixed at the right ratios, these ingredients create compost over time (anywhere from a few weeks to a few years). At Longwood Gardens, we collect organic wastes from on site, as well as from community farms and businesses, to create different types of composted products. This includes our hardwood and leaf mulches as well as our finished compost product.
Compost is a great amendment for soil beds and potting mixes as it increases organic matter, improves structure, supplements nutrients, and boosts beneficial organisms. It is also a great way to recycle. Items such as brush, discarded green plant material, and food scraps, which would otherwise take up space in a landfill, are transformed into a useful product through composting. At Longwood, we recycle all discarded organic matter on site through our composting operations.
Compost is used as a soil amendment in many different capacities. Its main use for home gardeners is as an addition to a planting bed or a potting mix. It can also be spread on the surface of agricultural fields and turf grass or used as a cover over tree rings and planting beds. Although it is a very valuable product, compost is not soil and therefore it lacks some of the important structural components, nutrients, and living organisms that make soil so good at supporting plant growth. It also lacks the qualities of potting mixes which are carefully formulated for plant growth. For these reasons, make sure to use compost as a soil amendment instead of a soil replacement.
The Terrace is working with local farmers and produce distributors to provide our guests with the freshest seasonal foods while supporting our local farms. Local food means a dramatic reduction in transportation emissions, days of refrigeration, and packaging. Longwood is a proud member of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture, working to further the connections between people and their food.
Longwood seasonally grows herbs, fruits and vegetables in the Idea Garden, which are used in the 1906 Fine Dining Room. This means zero food mileage adversely affecting our environment!
While both compostable and ceramic dishes require resources to make and maintain them, Longwood has chosen to use compostable dishes in our Café for several reasons.
Even our current spring water is bottled in a compostable plant-based product instead of plastic – it gets composted right along with our food waste!
Materials such as plastic bottles, light bulbs, steel cans, paper and cardboard that cannot be composted are recycled through different programs, ensuring landfill diversion. The water used at the facility is recycled as part of Longwood’s effluent irrigation system.
We use energy efficient lighting in both the food service and dining areas. T5 lamps are lower than incandescent lamps in energy consumption, and metal halide fixtures consume 50% less energy and have a longer lifespan than incandescent lamps.
The wallcoverings in 1906 are printed with water based inks and coatings, and manufactured using raw material recycling. In addition, the wall coverings in the Terra Cotta Room use water based inks and adhesives, with no heavy metals.
Solid surfaces throughout The Terrace, including tray slides and counter tops, are made from low-emitting materials and are Greenguard certified. These surfaces are eligible for a number of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED credits.
The benches in the corridors are made from a minimum of 70% recycled material content, FSC certified wood, and powder coat finishes contain no heavy metals.
The outdoor patio wood seating is made from teak wood from government-managed plantations in Java that restrict the number and size of trees that can be harvested, and requires replanting of the teak forests.
Tables in the Gallery and the Lodge are made of laminated granite to reduce the amount of natural stone used.
The Lodge features an innovative use of surplus seat belts as webbing for the barstool backs.
Many of the fabrics used throughout The Terrace are PVC free or certified for indoor air quality under the Greenguard for Children & Schools Program.
Most of the carpeting is either made from recycled content (from 10% to 100% post-consumer material), or is 100% recyclable. The linoleum used on the lower level of the Restaurant is made from all natural materials and is SMART certified.
Our facilities department is committed to using eco-friendly products wherever possible:
• 100% recycled hand towels in restrooms and Green Seal Certified bath tissue
• Environmentally-friendly hand soap
• Micro-fiber dusting cloths that can be washed up to 500 times before needing to be replaced
• Washable mop heads
Longwood Gardens runs a 100,000 gallon waste water management facility. The daily amount of treated water is dependent on the number of visitors to the Gardens. On an average day, 30,000-50,000 gallons are treated, while a busy day might see the facility process over 60,000 gallons. All water is passed through several treatments before it is used for irrigation. The first phase of treatment filters out all solid waste. The water is then treated through several more filters that remove additional waste and includes the use of small amounts of chlorine and sodium carbonate. Once purified, the water is stored in a 9 million gallon holding tank where it can be used throughout the Gardens and surrounding meadows.
You may know Longwood Gardens as one of the world’s great gardens, but did you know its legacy rests on the agricultural lands from which it was built? With more than 170 acres of agricultural farm land on our 1,077 acre property, we are committed to preserving our agricultural heritage and all natural areas in addition to providing renowned garden displays of spectacle and splendor.
In order to protect and preserve our natural resources we developed a land management plan that:
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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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Stand before towering fountains, wander shady groves, see fireworks light up the night sky, and enjoy concerts in the most beautiful outdoor settings.
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