Each visit to the Meadow Garden holds its own magic—a different slant of light, a hint of changing seasons.
More than three miles of walking and hiking trails lead visitors to the diverse habitats found throughout the Meadow Garden’s terrain. Venture in to discover open, undulating fields, lush wetlands, and diverse habitats for flora and fauna. Discover our learning pavilions along the trails and explore the amazing variety of wildlife and habitats that surround you. Visit our Trail Guide and try one or all of our self-guided walks and hikes through the Meadow Garden.
“A garden, to be a work of art, must have the soul of the native landscape in it.”
Jens Jensen, Landscape Architect
Flowering groundcovers, glades of ferns, sweeps of color that shift with the seasons. The Meadow Garden is a tapestry of landscapes from woodlands to wetlands, embodying the beauty of the Brandywine Valley. The view is as broad as the sky on the wings of a hawk, or as close-up as a butterfly on thistle.
Bridges connect us to the landscapes they traverse, and to the varieties of life that dwell within those landscapes. Four bridges span the Meadow Garden, putting us in touch with the natural world of which we are a part—its sky, soil, water, plants and animals—all that exists above, below, and around us.
The Hourglass Lake Bridge takes visitors over a body of water brimming with aquatic animals and water-loving plants. Reminiscent of the covered bridges of the Brandywine Valley, it is easily accessible from one of the main Meadow Garden entrances and provides access to the Hourglass Lake Pavilion.
Designed like the hull of a ship, the Meadow Bridge is the largest and most visible bridge in the Meadow Garden. Its views, seating, and interpretive signs provide a key venue for school groups and others to learn about the diversity of plant life in the Meadow and the wildlife it sustains.
At the far northern edge of the Meadow Garden, the Beech Forest Boardwalk provides a view of magnificent American beech trees as it carries visitors across the Pocopson Creek, a tributary of the Brandywine Creek. Finally, look closely for the Earth Bridge, which is covered in soil and blends with the Meadow it crosses.
The Webb Farmhouse & Galleries
The historic Webb Farmhouse has stood on the property since the mid-1700s. Inside, explore two galleries, one showcasing the beauty of the Meadow throughout the changing seasons and the second sharing the story of the people who have inhabited and influenced the land since the Lenni Lenape.
Accessible Meadow Boardwalk
Reachable from both meadow entrances, this ADA-accessible path invites you to take a 15-minute leisurely stroll across a variety of gentle grades and surfaces. Enjoy a lovely view from the raised boardwalk that is, itself, part of the pleasure of this outdoor garden. Here you can rise above the insects, yet still enjoy watching them. Don't miss the quiet busyness of dragonflies, damselflies, and water skimmers, as they take part in the life of the meadow, lake, and wetlands.
“I admire Longwood for their foresight with this project and predict that this revitalized meadow will become a favorite destination for those seeking the peace and hope that comes from connecting with the natural world.”
Douglas W. Tallamy, University of Delaware
Take your time to linger and learn about the plants and wildlife around you from the interpretive signs you'll find along the way. Then wait and watch as you lean against one of the wide railings, relax on a bench, or rest in the shaded parts of the path. Gaze across at the Forest Edge Pavilion or the Meadow Bridge. Catch a glimpse of the Pollinator Overlook. Or continue on to the Lookout Loft Treehouse or Hourglass Lake, where more wonders await you.
It took a village to create the Meadow Garden, a community of artisans—masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, sculptors, gardeners—working with environmentally-friendly, locally sourced materials to craft the bridges, pavilions and stonework throughout this landscape. The benches are made from Longwood's fallen trees, just one example of our commitment to sustainable practices.
The beauty of the Meadow Garden was an inspiration to those who designed it and constructed it. Come visit and be inspired by a natural aesthetic that is different than what you might find in Longwood's more formal gardens—sometimes wild, unkempt, and subtle, always changing and surprising. Carry its magic home. May it inspire you to make a difference in the world outside your door.
Come view life along the edge, where small eastern redbuds, flowering dogwoods, and white fringe-trees create a transition between the 150-year-old forest and the flowering meadow. Edge habitats provide a rich variety of food and shelter that, in turn, results in a mingling of many plant and animal species. Left untouched, the meadow would follow a gradual and natural succession to forest. A prescribed schedule of mowing and burning and the removal of invasive species will maintain the meadow landscape.
Pollination is vital to life on earth: flowers provide food for pollinators, pollinators fertilize flowering plants, and the harvests for our own tables depend on this amazing natural process. Come witness the interplay of butterflies, bees, birds, and flowers that benefits us all.
Hike to a high point of the Meadow and discover a flash of wing, a blur of feathers, a waterfall of song. Our Meadow provides food and habitat for birds as quick and tiny as the nectar-sipping hummingbird, and as majestic as the slowly circling hawk. By managing the Meadow for a diversity of plant and insect species, we ensure a thriving bird population.
Hourglass Lake Pavilion
Enjoy this view of Hourglass Lake, while learning about the wetlands that form a thriving habitat and food web within the Meadow Garden. From soil to sky, there is life in every layer. Birds and insects fill the open air, while flowers and seed carpet the ground. Unseen fungi, bacteria, nematodes, and worms help to decompose decaying plant material and return nutrients to the soil.