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A New Way to Say "Welcome to Longwood"

September 20, 2010

For years, the main entrance to Longwood Gardens was identified by the stone pillars clad in wisteria vines. As a part of our new initiative to bring more horticulture to key areas of the Gardens, we wanted to add more plants and displays to this entrance. With these additional plantings, we hope that you will really feel our passion for horticultural display extending out to your first impression.

 The Main Entrance at Longwood GardensFor years, the main entrance to Longwood Gardens was identified by the stone pillars clad in wisteria vines. As a part of our new initiative to bring more horticulture to key areas of the Gardens, we wanted to add more plants and displays to this entrance. With these additional plantings, we hope that you will really feel our passion for horticultural display extending out to your first impression. The genesis of this idea started a couple of years ago when I was looking at the front entrance with Kim Wilkie, the designer of our new East Conservatory Plaza, and Thomas Woltz, landscape architect. We were brainstorming on ways to make our entrance more inviting and realized this would be a great area to focus our attention. Soon thereafter, I started working on the design, with feedback from our head of horticulture Sharon, along with two of the gardeners that manage this area--Bob and Nick.

The planting beds were laid out using marking paintThe final design is a composition of several layers, and was inspired by a trip that Nick and I took to France last summer with our designer Jim. We planted a hedge of arborvitae in front of the stone pillars that will ultimately resemble the tightly clipped hedges of Versailles. We were also inspired by the striking boxwood cones at Versailles, and used a similar cone shape here to accentuate the landscape. Softening the formality of the evergreens will be shrubs,  grasses, perennials, and bulbs in shades of blue. To provide a little punch, some yellow flowering plants like Verbascum and Kniphofia will be added.

Our team planting one of the crepemyrtlesWe added an arching row of Lagerstroemia 'Sarah's Favorite' behind the stone pillars. These striking crepemyrtles will ultimately reach a height of over 20' with clouds of white flowers in July and August. Serving as a backdrop to the crepemyrtles are plantings of white pine, American holly, and Southern magnolia. These evergreens will become large trees over time and serve as sentinels to the entry. Bob, Nick, and their team will finish these plantings during the fall of 2010 so you can enjoy them next spring and summer. We certainly hope that you will enjoy the view!

Phase 1 of the plantings is complete. The perennials will be added next.

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