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June 9, 2015

A Short History of Tiny Trees

The Japanese art of bonsai originated in China as the practice known as penjing. Early in Chinese history, trees and other plants were collected from the wild and grown in containers. The practice moved to Japan many centuries ago through social and economic interaction with China. Over the years, both countries developed various techniques that we continue to use in creating bonsai today. The Japanese word bonsai translates to "tree in a shallow pot."

Though some plants in our...

May 5, 2015

Longwood Gardens Takes Philly Tech Week by Storm

TechniCulture, hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, was held April 17 at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As part of Philly Tech Week, TechniCulture was designed to build deeper relationships between the cultural and tech communities and inspire cultural organizations to think more innovatively.

Longwood Gardens was a great fit to present at this year’s TechniCulture, since innovation is a key part of our legacy and continues to be integral to our Gardens’...

April 29, 2015

A Fresh Spring Mix

When I was asked to write this blog in late March, I silently wondered if spring was ever going to arrive. It was cold. It was rainy. The bulbs were barely poking their leaves out of the ground. Spring finally did arrive, even if a little late. On the bright side, this year ended up being a spectacular season for our magnolias. Since spring was so late, these delicate magnolia flowers were not hit with a frost after opening and the beautiful blooms continue to shine on some trees throughout...

April 8, 2015

Bold and Beautiful: The Life of Echium Wildpretii

Tower-of-jewels, Echium wildpretii, in the Conservatory at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Yoko Arakawa.

The beauty of our spring display would not be complete without the towering, striking, and unusual plant, Echium wildpretii, ‘tower-of-jewels’. While this plant stands at nearly seven feet tall, its tiny, salmon-colored flowers are what make it truly magnificent. As each tassel of flowers blooms into graceful curves along the plant, the stamens stick out as if dancing from the tiny...

March 25, 2015

Braiding Sweetgrass: A Community Read

"Plants are our oldest teachers," says Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, Longwood's pick for our second annual Community Read. So we might, indeed, do well to listen as Dr. Kimmerer weaves tales of plant wisdom from strands of Native American knowledge, scientific research, and her own experience—both as a professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York; and as a student of the Potawatomi culture that is her...