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Hillside Garden

Encompassing our Chimes Tower, Waterfall, Pear-Shaped Basin and the surrounding terraced landscape, our Hillside Garden is one of our most diverse and multi-layered gardens.

An intimate sequence of paths, stone landings, and stairs winds among beds bursting with a wide variety of perennials, shrubs, and small trees, including some rare and unusual specimens. The scenic beauty of this area, combined with the sounds of chiming bells and a cascading waterfall, creates a pleasure for all the senses. Visit early or late in the day to enjoy the dramatic and complex play of light and shadow as the sun moves behind trees, leaves, and blooms. Delight in sweeping views of the Chimes Tower and Waterfall from upper pathways as you meander through the Hillside’s many levels and slopes.

A plant-lover’s paradise, the Hillside Garden is home to a cosmopolitan mix of plants from around the world. In early spring, enjoy the first blooms of the season, when snowdrops (Galanthus), Cyclamen, hellebores, and fragrant winter-hazel (Corylopsis glabrescens ‘Longwood Chimes’) burst into bloom along narrow paths. In summer, meadow-like blooms and grasses abound in sunny slopes to the north near the Main Fountain Garden, while southern paths are a shady retreat with an abundance of foliage and textures and quiet places to sit and reflect. In autumn, the Hillside bursts with colorful fall foliage and late-blooming perennials. Winter in the Hillside is a showcase of sculptural bark of paperbark maple (Acer griseum) and Japanese crape-myrtle (Lagerstroemia subcostata var. fauriei ‘Townhouse’), bright berries of beautyberry (Callicarpa) and winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata), and rare blooms of paper-bush (Edgeworthia chrysantha) and Camellia.

A canopy of mature trees shades portions of the Hillside Garden and frames the Chimes Tower in a verdant embrace. Planted as full-grown specimens by Pierre S. du Pont nearly a century ago, these massive Canada hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) and eastern white pines (Pinus strobus) created an instant green backdrop for Mr. du Pont’s Main Fountain Garden. Nearby Oak and Conifer Knoll shares the same hilly rise as the Hillside Garden and is a continuation of the swath of evergreen and deciduous trees installed by Mr. du Pont to frame the Fountain Garden. Also growing here in the Hillside are plants discovered through Longwood’s plant exploration program. Boxwood collected in the Caucasus Mountains by Longwood staff are planted on a slope near the Chimes Tower to test the shrub’s garden performance. This nationally-accredited boxwood collection helps preserve the biodiversity of boxwood growing in the wild.

Chimes Tower, Waterfall and Pear-Shaped Basin

Inspired by a 14th-century fortified tower at Châtillon-Coligny on the Loing River in France, which Pierre S. du Pont visited in 1925, Longwood’s 61-foot-tall Chimes Tower was designed as a picturesque backdrop to the Main Fountain Garden. Visible from as far away as Longwood’s Conservatory Terrace, the Tower is a romantic garden folly, or decorative landscape building, beckoning guests to come closer to explore. Approaching the Tower from the Main Fountain Garden gives the impression of walking onto a stage, where a curtain of evergreen trees surrounds the scene set by the Hillside and Tower. Alongside the Tower, a waterfall cascades fifty feet from the upper levels of the Hillside into the Pear-Shaped Basin. Listen as the splashing roar of the falls mingles with the sound of the Tower’s 62-cast-bell carillon, which chimes on the quarter-hour. Winding stairs in the Chimes Tower lead from the Pear-Shaped Basin to the Hillside Garden’s upper pathways.

History of this Garden

The area now called the Hillside Garden was built into a man-made hillside between 1929 and 1932 during the excavation for the Main Fountain Garden. A rock-lined stream was added in 1932. In 1960 it became a Rock Garden, and in 1963 a Heath and Heather Garden was planted nearby. The Rock Garden was renamed the Hillside Garden in 1982 and has continued to be developed over the years.

The Chimes Tower, Waterfall, and Pear-Shaped Basin were completed in 1931–1932 using stone unearthed during the construction of the Main Fountain Garden. Water in the waterfall and basin originally recirculated through the Main Fountain Garden, but was disconnected from the Fountain Garden water supply during the Main Fountain Garden revitalization project in 2014–2017.

Explore Plants In This Garden