Meadow & Forest District

Aerial view of large gold meadow garden with forest areas surrounding it

About This District

The Meadow and Forest District is a large-scale landscape shaped over time and reflecting thousands of years of human cultivation. From the eastern deciduous woodlands where the indigenous Lenni-Lenape lived, hunted, and planted crops, to the European-style livestock pastures of the 18th and 19th centuries, to the principles of garden design and science-based land management that guide us today, this land takes guests not only on a journey through diverse habitats, but also time.

Gardens in this District

  • Forest Walk
    Two children holding toy airplanes run along a wooden walkway out of a wooden treehouse

    Forest Walk

    Wander paths in a realm of scenic, intimate woodland beauty, shaded by soaring tulip-trees and the canopy of other deciduous hardwoods. Don’t miss two of our famed treehouses for a squirrel’s eye view into sylvan serenity.

  • Meadow Garden
    a curving bridge punctuates a large grassy meadow under a blue sky

    Meadow Garden

    Enjoy expansive vistas, sweeps of stunning native plants, and a tapestry of texture as you wander miles of trails past carefully managed wetlands, ponds, open fields, and the forest’s edge, set to the hum of busy insects and rustling plants.

Explore Our Natural Lands

Approximately 65 percent of our 1,100-acre property consists of natural lands—meadows, forest, wetlands, and agricultural fields—that provide an oasis for migratory birds and native wildlife while creating a buffer between the Gardens and neighboring properties. The Meadow and Forest District represents 120 acres of these managed lands that are open to our guests for exploration, learning, meditation, and beauty. Our legacy of conservation, preservation, and restoration continues here in the richly biodiverse habitats that can only thrive where they are given the proper care and space. We continue to shape this land with the same spirit of beauty, innovation, and stewardship that has led a century of progress at Longwood. 

In the Meadow and Forest District, we harmonize the best practices in ecological restoration with garden design—allowing us to showcase horticultural excellence and amplify beauty for our guests while prioritizing plant and animal communities. By following this approach, we preserve and improve the quality of the entirety of Longwood’s ecosystems, and biodiversity, from water to soil to air—while celebrating the human connections along the way.

What’s in Bloom

  • White petaled flower with orange center and green leaves.


    Franklinia alatamaha

    Franklinia, or the Franklin tree is a small deciduous tree in the camellia family. It was first discovered by the Philadelphia based botanists John and William Bartram on the banks of the Alatamaha River in Georgia in 1765. William Bartram collected seed in 1773, and successfully cultivated the plant at the Bartram gardens in Philadelphia. Bartram named the new plant Franklinia alatamaha in honor of his father’s friend Benjamin Franklin.  It is a unique tree as it is the only species in its genus, and it is now extinct in the wild. The original stand of trees was restricted to a small area and the species went extinct soon after its discovery, with the last confirmed sighting recorded in 1803. The probable causes for its demise were increased activity associated with settlers; for example fires and land clearance. All known living specimens in cultivation today are descended from the seed collected by William Bartram.  Interestingly, while the tree was discovered in Georgia, it performs well in more northern climates. It has therefore been hypothesized that the tree was pushed south during the last ice age, then stranded when the ice retreated. The trees that the Bartrams discovered might have been the last remnants of a once much larger population.  The Franklin tree is available commercially and is prized in cultivation for both its story and its fragrant camellia-like flowers and red fall foliage.

  • Tall, green stems with medium sized yellow flowers


    Silphium perfoliatum

    The Meadow Garden is filled with plants that benefit wildlife.  Cup-plant is a native perennial that grows to 8 feet tall.  Its perfoliate leaves, which clasp around the stem forming a cup, collect water for birds and insects.  Cup-plant provides nectar and pollen for a variety of bees, while birds, especially goldfinches, eat its seeds.