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A Talk and Book Signing at Longwood Gardens

By Martha Stewart, on June 18, 2018
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Editor's Note: We were honored to have Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey visit the Gardens on June 14, 2018, to share insights from their newly released book, Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering, and Enjoying. This blog post about their visit originally appeared June 16, 2018, in Martha Up Close & Personal: The Martha Stewart Blog.

Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering, and Enjoying continues to inspire and inform all those who flip through its pages. I hope you have your copy!

This week, Kevin Sharkey and I participated in a garden discussion and book signing at the exquisite Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. More than 1,450 guests attended the talk in the historic Open Air Theatre. The book signing was also held outdoors at the Garden’s Dogwood Plaza. It was such a gorgeous and sunny spring day - just perfect for the event. Afterwards, Kevin and I had the opportunity to walk through some of the gardens filled with spectacular plantings and stunning water fountain displays. Longwood has a rich and varied history. There is always something new to see and learn every time I visit. If you’re ever in the area, I encourage you to stop by - it is a magical place.

Here are some photos.

Kevin and I posed with the moderator of our garden talk, Longwood’s President and Chief Executive Officer Paul B. Redman. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)Kevin and I posed with the moderator of our garden talk, Longwood’s President and Chief Executive Officer Paul B. Redman. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

Here is the stage set and decorated with Boston ferns, Musa ‘Thai Black’, and Canna ‘Toucan Yellow’. Surrounding the stage is a hedge of meticulously clipped arborvitae.Here is the stage set and decorated with Boston ferns, Musa ‘Thai Black’, and Canna ‘Toucan Yellow’. Surrounding the stage is a hedge of meticulously clipped arborvitae.

The Open Air Theatre holds 1,500 guests – it was almost completely filled. The Theatre has hosted countless performances and concerts since its 1914 debut, including those by John Philip Sousa and Martha Graham. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)The Open Air Theatre holds 1,500 guests – it was almost completely filled. The Theatre has hosted countless performances and concerts since its 1914 debut, including those by John Philip Sousa and Martha Graham. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

Paul, Kevin and I had such a lovely discussion about our book, “Martha’s Flowers,” about how we developed it and what inspired us to create it. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)Paul, Kevin and I had such a lovely discussion about our book, Martha’s Flowers, about how we developed it and what inspired us to create it. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

After the discussion, we were treated to a lovely breakfast buffet in the underground dressing rooms under the Open Air Theatre stage.After the discussion, we were treated to a lovely breakfast buffet in the underground dressing rooms under the Open Air Theatre stage.

Constructed in 1927, the underground dressing rooms have remained largely intact. Many of the fixtures are original and so well maintained.Constructed in 1927, the underground dressing rooms have remained largely intact. Many of the fixtures are original and so well maintained.

Here are the bathroom pedestal sinks – still the same after 91 years.Here are the bathroom pedestal sinks – still the same after 91 years.

Here is the long line of guests waiting to have their books signed in the garden adjacent to the Open Air Theatre. It was so exciting to see so many visitors.Here is the long line of guests waiting to have their books signed in the garden adjacent to the Open Air Theatre. It was so exciting to see so many visitors.

More than 1,500 copies of “Martha’s Flowers” were ordered for the event. Any remaining books will be sold in the Gardens' store.More than 1,500 copies of Martha’s Flowers were ordered for the event. Any remaining books will be sold in the Gardens' store.

This garden, with its pretty fountain, was a beautiful space for our book signing.This garden, with its pretty fountain, was a beautiful space for our book signing.

Kevin and I signed more than 250 books. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)Kevin and I signed more than 250 books. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

Whenever I can, I like to stop and pose for photos with guests during these book signing events. It takes a bit longer for those in line, but it is a personal touch I enjoy doing for visitors. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)Whenever I can, I like to stop and pose for photos with guests during these book signing events. It takes a bit longer for those in line, but it is a personal touch I enjoy doing for visitors. (Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens)

This is the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse, one of three treehouses scattered throughout Longwood. It is a two-story structure inspired by Norwegian stave churches. All three treehouses were built in 2008.This is the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse, one of three treehouses scattered throughout Longwood. It is a two-story structure inspired by Norwegian stave churches. All three treehouses were built in 2008.

The treehouses were built using mostly reclaimed materials and are supported by a pin foundation system so the surrounding tree limbs and roots are unharmed and untouched.The treehouses were built using mostly reclaimed materials and are supported by a pin foundation system so the surrounding tree limbs and roots are unharmed and untouched.

Longwood added the candles along the treehouse ledge in 2012 as part of a Bruce Munro light exhibition.Longwood added the candles along the treehouse ledge in 2012 as part of a Bruce Munro light exhibition.

As we toured some of the gardens we saw a gorgeous view across the Cow Lot lined with white oak, Quercus alba.As we toured some of the gardens we saw a gorgeous view across the Cow Lot lined with white oak, Quercus alba.

This is kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa, in the foreground and copper beech, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea, in the background of the Cow Lot.This is kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa, in the foreground and copper beech, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea, in the background of the Cow Lot.

It’s hard to miss this massive copper beech, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea, tree trunk. It is stunning. Copper beech is among my favorite trees – I have many at my Bedford, New York farm.It’s hard to miss this massive copper beech, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea, tree trunk. It is stunning. Copper beech is among my favorite trees – I have many at my Bedford, New York farm.

This is the Flower Garden Walk. It is lined with stately bald cypress, Taxodium distichum. I also have these at my farm – a stand of bald cypress line the carriage road across from my long and winding clematis pergola.This is the Flower Garden Walk. It is lined with stately bald cypress, Taxodium distichum. I also have these at my farm – a stand of bald cypress line the carriage road across from my long and winding clematis pergola.

This is Longwood’s wisteria arbor, Wisteria floribunda. It is filled with decades-old vines. This wisteria is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Japan. It is a woody, deciduous twining climber that can grow 30-feet long.This is Longwood’s wisteria arbor, Wisteria floribunda. It is filled with decades-old vines. This wisteria is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Japan. It is a woody, deciduous twining climber that can grow 30-feet long.

The Blue Atlas cedar, Cedrus atlantica, provides a pretty backdrop behind Longwood’s Small Lake. The Blue Atlas cedar, the most popular of all Atlas cedars, is a majestic evergreen tree, with limbs covered with patches of green or blue-green needles. It maintains a narrow conical form before widening into a pyramidal form after about 20 years.The Blue Atlas cedar, Cedrus atlantica, provides a pretty backdrop behind Longwood’s Small Lake. The Blue Atlas cedar, the most popular of all Atlas cedars, is a majestic evergreen tree, with limbs covered with patches of green or blue-green needles. It maintains a narrow conical form before widening into a pyramidal form after about 20 years.

Here is a giant specimen of a kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa, in bloom. It is a deciduous flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15 to 30 feet tall, with a vase-shaped habit in the early years, eventually maturing to a more rounded form.Here is a giant specimen of a kousa dogwood, Cornus kousa, in bloom. It is a deciduous flowering tree or multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15 to 30 feet tall, with a vase-shaped habit in the early years, eventually maturing to a more rounded form.

Here, water tumbles down the Italian Water Garden’s stairs, backed by a hedge of boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Myrtifolia’.Here, water tumbles down the Italian Water Garden’s stairs, backed by a hedge of boxwood, Buxus sempervirens ‘Myrtifolia’.

We loved the fountains at Longwood. This one was designed by Pierre S. du Pont. It opened in 1925 in the Italian Water Garden, which is flanked by two matching allées of pollarded little-leaf linden, Tilia cordata.We loved the fountains at Longwood. This one was designed by Pierre S. du Pont. It opened in 1925 in the Italian Water Garden, which is flanked by two matching allées of pollarded little-leaf linden, Tilia cordata.

I took this photo looking up from the base of a giant tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera – another massive and stunning tree here at Longwood.I took this photo looking up from the base of a giant tulip poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera – another massive and stunning tree here at Longwood.

Part of the Peirce-du Pont House Heritage Exhibit, this signage gives a peek into Longwood’s rich history. Dating from 1730, the Peirce-du Pont House is the oldest building at Longwood. The Federal-style home served as the Peirce family homestead until 1905 and then became the weekend residence of Pierre S. du Pont from 1906 until his death in 1954.Part of the Peirce-du Pont House Heritage Exhibit, this signage gives a peek into Longwood’s rich history. Dating from 1730, the Peirce-du Pont House is the oldest building at Longwood. The Federal-style home served as the Peirce family homestead until 1905 and then became the weekend residence of Pierre S. du Pont from 1906 until his death in 1954.

Our walk through the Heritage Exhibit continued with Pierre S. du Pont’s den.Our walk through the Heritage Exhibit continued with Pierre S. du Pont’s den.

And some of the original artifacts and correspondence on the breakfast table belonging to Alice du Pont, the first lady of Longwood.And some of the original artifacts and correspondence on the breakfast table belonging to Alice du Pont, the first lady of Longwood.

A Longwood milk bottle and cap sit atop the Peirce-du Pont House kitchen table as a nod to the dairy operation at Longwood from 1916 to 1951. The wind-up fly fan next to the milk bottle and cap was a way of keeping flies from landing on the food.A Longwood milk bottle and cap sit atop the Peirce-du Pont House kitchen table as a nod to the dairy operation at Longwood from 1916 to 1951. The wind-up fly fan next to the milk bottle and cap was a way of keeping flies from landing on the food.

This square Steinway piano with a rosewood case and pillar legs originally graced Goodstay, the home of Pierre S. du Pont’s grandmother, Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot du Pont, before it was brought to Longwood.This square Steinway piano with a rosewood case and pillar legs originally graced Goodstay, the home of Pierre S. du Pont’s grandmother, Margaretta Elizabeth Lammot du Pont, before it was brought to Longwood.

Built in 1914, the Pierce-du Pont House conservatory served as the property’s first “winter garden.” Many of the plant species displayed in the conservatory today were also there during Pierre S. du Pont’s lifetime.Built in 1914, the Pierce-du Pont House conservatory served as the property’s first “winter garden.” Many of the plant species displayed in the conservatory today were also there during Pierre S. du Pont’s lifetime.

Outside in full bloom, we saw the Rose Arbor. Roses are just exploding everywhere this season. This arbor is filled with the climbing rose, Rosa ‘American Pillar’, a very striking rose with almost single flowers of deep carmine-pink and white eyes.Outside in full bloom, we saw the Rose Arbor. Roses are just exploding everywhere this season. This arbor is filled with the climbing rose, Rosa ‘American Pillar’, a very striking rose with almost single flowers of deep carmine-pink and white eyes.

Here are more copper beech trees, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea in the Cow Lot. They look so beautiful in the landscape with their deep copper color.Here are more copper beech trees, Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea in the Cow Lot. They look so beautiful in the landscape with their deep copper color.

And here is the newly revitalized Main Fountain Garden, which features 1,719 fountain jets that dance to shows every day at Longwood. The Garden showcases Illuminated Fountain Performances set to music Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings throughout the summer. Conical boxwood, Buxus ‘Green Mountain’, are displayed in Versailles boxes in the foreground. Longwood is a spectacular place to visit. Please go to their web site by clicking on the highlighted link above for more information on their gardens and events.And here is the newly revitalized Main Fountain Garden, which features 1,719 fountain jets that dance to shows every day at Longwood. The Garden showcases Illuminated Fountain Performances set to music Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday evenings throughout the summer. Conical boxwood, Buxus ‘Green Mountain’, are displayed in Versailles boxes in the foreground. Longwood is a spectacular place to visit. Please go to their web site by clicking on the highlighted link above for more information on their gardens and events.

All photos captioned “courtesy of Longwood Gardens” were taken by Eileen Tercha.

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