KENNETT SQUARE, PA- Longwood Gardens is anything but dreary this winter. The heated 4-acre conservatory transports guests into a warm oasis featuring thousands of colorful orchid blooms displayed in extraordinary ways during Orchid Extravaganza, now through March 27. In addition to the one-of-a-kind horticultural display, Orchid Extravaganza features concerts, talks, tours, OrKid Days, and more.
Guests will be amazed at the variety and number of orchids on display in a plethora of colors, sizes, and shapes. In all, more than 5,000 blooming orchids will delight the senses including Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium, among others. In the East Conservatory, a towering arch of white Phalaenopsis welcome guests to the Conservatory, while huge orbs of purple and white Phalaenopsis hang above the Exhibition Hall.
Longwood’s award-winning Orchid curtain returns standing 17-feet high featuring 250 purple Phaleanopsis and Cattleya orchids in glorious bloom. Urns of mixed colors of Cymbidiums line the yellow-blooming Acacia Passage while the Silver Garden features hundreds of vibrant blue Vanda orchids hanging overhead.
Through the end of January, guests can see the rare Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' orchid. Although the color black does not exist in the plant world, this orchid is causing a sensation with its extremely dark blooms that looks black to the naked eye. The plant breeder, Fred Clarke, is the owner of Sunset Valley Orchids in California, which specializes in growing superior hybrid orchids.
Guests can also enjoy another orchid rarity-- the Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian 'V3' orchids return to the Orangery. New this year, not only will guests witness the majestic white blooms but also pink and dark purple blooms. Grown by experts in Taiwan, the orchids are notable for the sheer number of flowers blooming at one time on each flower stalk, the perfect unity of the flower pairs on each stalk, and the length of time the orchid blooms. The magnificent blooms are achieved by carefully cultivating the plant for about four years under specific environmental conditions that involve a strict nutritional regime and precise watering practices. As the flower spikes develop, the plants are placed facing south and the spikes are trained along a curved metal stake to yield the formal, draping presentation guests see. Last year was the first time these orchids had been on display at a public garden in the United States.
Additional indoor highlights include the Mediterranean Garden, a riot of vibrant color January through April with Australian purple coral-pea (Hardenbergia) vines blooming like miniature wisteria; while the Estate Fruit House displays nectarines, melons, and other fruits and vegetables flourishing in the midst of winter. Orchid filled Tropical Clearings surround the Patio of Oranges. These creative miniature landscapes are filled with over 500 unusual orchids purchased from some of the best orchid growers in the United States.
In early March, Longwood’s famed Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) returns to the Conservatory. Longwood Gardens has successfully produced a stunning crop of blue poppies that decorate the Conservatory’s Exhibition Hall with their unique blue blossoms.
OrKid Days are designed for our young garden guests. Children spend the day experiencing Longwood in special activities designed just for them. Discovery stations, interactive storytelling, and a family seek-and-find are a few of the activities for children to enjoy. OrKID Days are February 15 and March 19 from 11 am - 2 pm and are free with Gardens Admission.
Thursday, February 11 at 8 pm classical string trio Time for Three performs its unique modern, melody-rich sound that has delighted audiences from Carnegie Hall, to NFL Games, to European Festivals to the Indy 500. Ticket are $42 or $36 for members and can be purchased calling 215-893-1999 or visiting ticketphiladelphia.org.
Friday, February 19 at 8 pm Longwood’s Ballroom is the setting for a recital by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey in London. O’ Donnell oversees the music for all events at Westminster Abbey including the music for special royal occasions held there. He has performed around the world including the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Europe. Tickets are $35 or $30 for Members and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or visiting ticketphiladelphia.org.
On Tuesday, March 8 at 8 pm New Zealand’s Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra brings its unique mix of humor, disarmingly small instruments, and musicality to Longwood. Tickets are $38 or $32 for Members and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or visiting ticketphiladelphia.org.
For a complete listing of all upcoming performances, visit longwoodgardens.org.
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,077 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and 4.5-acre conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by Mr. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the performing arts, through programming that includes exhibitions, musical performances by leading artists, renowned horticulture education programs, horticulture research, environmental stewardship and community engagement.
Longwood Gardens is on US Route 1 near Kennett Square, PA, 30 miles west of Philadelphia. Admission is $20 for adults; $17 for seniors (age 62+); $10 for students (ages 5–18) or with valid student ID) and free ages 4 and under. Group rates available. The Gardens open at 9 am. Details at www.longwoodgardens.org.