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Peirce’s Woods in Bloom

April 25, 2016
I love this time of year in Peirce’s Woods, even though it feels like a non-stop race to pull all the weeds before they go to seed. The beauty of the woods in bloom makes me forget all that. Suddenly all the flowers in Peirce’s Woods have opened all at once. Peirce’s Woods is an art form garden, composed with native plants. The central design theme is large horizontal sweeps of groundcovers balancing the strong vertical lines of the mature tree trunks. Most of our native woodland flowers take advantage of the brief period in early spring before the trees fully leaf out to grow, flower and set seed. The two main groundcovers currently stealing the show are sweeps of white foamflowers (Tiarella) and ‘Sherwood Purple’ creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera).
Built in 1931 by Pierre S. du Pont, the Main Fountain Garden was inspired by Pierre’s passion for engineering and design, and his travels to European gardens. After years of deteriorating stonework, many fountain features were turned off—leading to limited access to the Garden since the early ‘90s. In order to save this treasure, we embarked on a major restoration project. This spring will mark the halfway point of the two-year revitalization. In this post, we will go below the surface of the Main Fountain Garden and explore some of the engineering behind the beauty.

Fire in the Meadow: A Beneficial Burn

April 8, 2016
This spring we have been feeling the heat in the Meadow Garden! This 86-acre space at Longwood combines horticulture and ecology to create an environmentally sensitive landscape. Although this area of rich biodiversity may seem wild and maintenance free, meadows actually require regular attention. A typical meadow like the one here at Longwood requires regular scouting for invasive plants, the removal of woody plants, and a yearly mowing or burning. Historically, meadows in the eastern U.S. burned naturally as a result of lightning storms, or by Native Americans, who used fire to maintain plant communities and manage game animal populations. At Longwood, we have been practicing prescribed burns since the mid-1980s, with specific areas being burned on a rotational basis. This year a prescribed burn of our Meadow Garden was carried out on April 6.

Horticulture in Any Language

March 31, 2016
Longwood Gardens is known not only for its leadership in horticulture, but also for its excellence in education—both at home and abroad. Among its many outstanding programs is Longwood’s International Training Program, which was founded in 1956 with Aage Anderson of Denmark as its first participant. This year there are international trainees and interns from Poland, Spain, South Korea and the UK. The program allows each individual to focus on key areas of interest and to broaden their learning experience by rotating through different areas of the Gardens, including outdoor display, indoor display, natural lands, production, education, marketing, plant records, and research. Participants live with American interns, Professional Gardener (PG) students, and Great Gardens of the World TRIAD fellows on Red Lion Row, which is just a short walk from the Gardens. “The Row” was originally built by Longwood’s founder, Pierre S. du Pont, to house employees and their families. Nowadays 20 to 40 students live on “The Row” at one time, which leads to a unique and highly sociable international community, sometimes known as plant camp!

On Meadowview Street: A Family Community Read

March 22, 2016
What if you visited Longwood Gardens and it didn’t have any gardens? What if you moved to Meadowview Street and it didn’t have any meadows? That very question got author/illustrator Henry Cole thinking. And so he created the story of a young girl named Caroline, who grows her own meadow in our 2016 Family Community Read selection, On Meadowview Street. “Isn’t it ironic to see street signs everywhere with names like ‘Cardinal Way’ or ‘Fern Street’—and there are no cardinals or ferns anywhere near!” says Cole in a recent email interview with Longwood. “Places are called things to make them sound inviting and beautiful but it is seldom that communities are planned (and planted) with the environment first and foremost.”