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June 28, 2016
“Great soil is the foundation for a great landscape,” explains Claire Agre. A landscape architect, Agre is also a principal at West 8 urban design and landscape architecture, a design firm responsible for the execution of parks, gardens, waterfronts, and public spaces around the world. West 8’s latest project is to lead the landscape design of the Main Fountain Garden, including the planting of more than 2,600 boxwood in an exuberant hedge, 168 linden trees in Allee formation, and the development of additional pathways, furnishings, and fixtures for guests to enjoy. Great care was taken in all aspects of planning the Garden, from plant selection to bench design, but perhaps the most intensive aspect of the project was designing the soil upon which the Garden would thrive. But how does one design soil?
June 21, 2016
The Meadow Garden at Longwood is a beautiful space that helps to inform visitors about native and naturally producing flora throughout the seasons. The Meadow Garden also illustrates how native plants can be used in our own gardens both for aesthetic benefit and wildlife habitat. Each habitat in the meadow demonstrates the complex interrelationships of plants, insects, birds, amphibians, and many other small animals. Sadly, in recent years the beloved monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has been in decline due to habitat destruction. The good news is we can work to reverse this trend in our own gardens.
May 25, 2016
Our plant family is welcoming a new addition this summer: Canna ‘Longwood Simply Salmon’! This canna was bred here at Longwood and is being released commercially under the Longwood Gardens name. Canna is a genus of large tropical and sub-tropical rhizomatous perennial plants with showy flowers and foliage. Canna ‘Longwood Simply Salmon’ is a compact, virus-free cultivar with showy, salmon-colored flowers. Cannas have a strong presence at Longwood, as a favorite feature in our summer display. They also have a long history within our Research division.
May 10, 2016
When you think of endangered species and conservation programs, you may think of our nation's zoos and aquariums and their work with wildlife preservation. Native flora may not come immediately to mind, but in Pennsylvania alone, the US Department of Agriculture lists more than 600 plants as endangered or threatened. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 60 species of native orchids. Some are among the showiest and most charismatic members of our native flora, but most are rare and threatened in the wild. Climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, and a booming white-tailed deer population have decimated many orchid populations in Southeastern Pennsylvania and across the region. To combat these issues, and to provide critical information about the propagation and growth of native orchids in cultivation, our Research Team at Longwood Gardens is developing a conservation program.
May 2, 2016
Phenology is the scientific study of nature’s seasonal events—when cherry trees bloom and when birds choose to nest, for example. Studying phenology is a great way of getting outside and observing nature. Longwood Gardens has been observing and collecting the phenological data of when plants boom in our Gardens for many years. The data collected helps predict when plants will bloom each year, when to collect pollen for breeding programs, when to photograph flowers, or to let guests know the best time to visit to see a specific bloom. We are lucky to have a team of 15 trained observers who are dedicated to this important task.