Our planet thrives on variety at every level, from species and biomes and from genes to habitats. Every living thing on earth exists within an ecosystem, and all play a role in the complex web of life that maintains and enhances the health of our planet, our fellow organisms, and our local environments. For people, biodiversity is intrinsic to the necessities of everyday life—food, shelter, fuel, and medicine—and to our appreciation of the beauty of the natural world. At Longwood Gardens, we manage our natural areas to both promote native species diversity across the landscape and to help our guests create memorable and inspiring experiences discovering the dynamic beauty of our native habitats.
Because humanity is changing the planet at vast scales with great speed, conserving and restoring our wild places is more important than ever. Although rapid ecosystem change has brought a loss of biodiversity, with this impact comes the opportunity to research, understand, and reverse habitat loss. Longwood’s Land Stewardship and Ecology program adaptively manages the diverse natural lands that surround our formal gardens. We work to conserve and restore biodiversity, including safeguarding rare Pennsylvania native species and preserving and restoring a wide array of different kinds of habitats.
At Longwood, our meadows, streams, wetlands, and forests are home to innumerable invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. We can see red foxes in the meadow, benthic macroinvertebrates like dragonflies in the streams, great blue herons in the wetlands, pileated woodpeckers in the forests, and so much more.
Longwood’s formal gardens also support wildlife—especially pollinators. Our lush displays of flowering plants across the entire growing season offer nectar and pollen resources to an array of butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds. Below, take a look at some of the wildlife we’ve spotted throughout our formal Gardens and our natural lands.
Next time you’re here in our Gardens and see wildlife, know that you can be a part of our observation efforts. You can contribute observations to iNaturalist and eBird—applications linking observers all over the world to the scientific community. About 700 people have collectively contributed nearly 1,600 observations to our research using these community science platforms, helping us to gain a deeper understanding of the lands we steward and the creatures that inhabit them.
Editor’s note: This fall, our Meadow Garden may look a little different than it typically does this time of year. As part of the extraordinary effort to ensure the safety of our community, we mowed part of our Meadow Garden to aid in the search for an escaped prisoner in September. The western and central sections of the Meadow Garden were mowed. Although mowing in this season is a dramatic ecological disturbance, species that live in meadows are resilient. Many of our native meadow plants are perennials that will sprout again from the roots, and the soil has a rich seedbank waiting to germinate when the moment is right.
Our wildlife is also resilient, and we are grateful the eastern portion of the Meadow remains untouched to help serve habitat needs. Happily, we can expect to see the entire Meadow lush with life again in spring.