Idea Garden

The Idea Garden is closed for the Longwood Reimagined project and will reopen mid-March 2024.

A brick walkway with a wooden bench winds through green garden beds with fountains in the distance
Creative, Inspiring, Varied
Best Seasons to Visit
Spring, Summer, Autumn
6 Acres

In the Idea Garden, we bring horticultural inspiration closer to home, showcasing a range of educational, experimental approaches to gardening and design, and using plant varieties that can be reliably grown by home gardeners in the mid-Atlantic region. 

Echoing some of the classical elements of the Main Fountain Garden, clipped Carpinus and linear pathways lead the way to sections dedicated to annuals, perennials, vegetables, small fruits, and more. With a nod to the Brandywine Valley, traditional bedding plants are combined with swaying grasses, handcrafted support structures, and other eclectic elements that showcase our gardeners’ passion for plants and creativity. We recommend you bring along your camera—and make time to take lots of notes!

About This Garden

Annual Display 

Look for an ever-changing palette of color in this evolving space. Bulbs take center stage in the spring, while annual flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer months into fall. This space is often used to showcase new and exciting plants that are available commercially. Form and repetition are key to the designs, creating a coordinated vista of sun-bright hues and artful combinations.

Combination Garden

This dynamic garden space is used specifically to showcase artful botanical combinations. Witness the natural succession of blooming, receding, setting seed, and renewal for every stage of life for a herbaceous plants. Featuring shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, and small flowering trees, this garden brings new learning and discovery for the home gardener, season after season. 

Container Garden

Imagination and experimentation reign when it comes to our Container Garden. Combining tropical, hardy, and flowering plants, our talented team of horticulturists create living art (and inspiration) for enlivening outdoor spaces both large and small.

Ornamental Kitchen Garden

Vegetables, fruits, and herbs are beautiful and bountiful in our Ornamental Kitchen Garden, dedicated to growing vegetables since 1927. Find inspiration for your own culinary garden, in varieties both common and unusual, grown alongside cut flowers, fruit trees, and berries. Learn techniques for growing crops in a small space and for handcrafting sculptural arches, trellises, and domes to create a playful area that celebrates the beauty of these plants.

Perennial Display

We like to think of this garden as a living plant catalog—one which doubles as an immersive (and gorgeous) study guide for our Continuing Education students. Featuring a variety of herbaceous sun- and shade-loving perennials, the textures, colors, and forms look spectacular in every season.

Student Exhibition Garden

Designed and maintained by the students in our two-year Professional Horticulture program, the Student Exhibition Garden surprises and delights. The students are responsible for designing and planting a garden within a given budget, sticking to the provided course themes and design requirements.