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, January 21 through March 31. In addition to the one-of-a-kind horticultural display, Orchid Extravaganza features activities and program for the entire family, including concerts, talks, tours, OrKid Days, and more. The Gardens are open daily from 9 am-5 pm.
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 4,500 blooming orchids will delight the senses including Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium, among others. In the East Conservatory, a towering arch of pink Phalaenopsis welcome guests to the Conservatory, while huge orbs of pink Phalaenopsis orchids hang above the Exhibition Hall.
Longwood’s award-winning orchid curtain returns standing 17-feet high featuring 625 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 200 hanging mixed color Vanda orchids suspended over the walkway.
This year, the orchid rarity Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian 'V3' returns in majestic white, pink, and purple blooms. New this year, 100 ‘V3’ orchids will be suspended in six 24-inch baskets above the Center Walk. 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 longevity of 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.
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.
In early March, Longwood’s famed Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) returns to the Conservatory. These spectacular flowers—which are native to the high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains— are grown using a special technique to force the blue-poppies to flower in March. The substantial petals are a mesmerizing sky blue color, and are a must see.
OrKid Days are designed for our young garden guests, with 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 January 16, February 20, and March 18 from 11 am–2 pm. Activities are free with Gardens Admission.
On Saturday, January 28 at 8 pm, Farah Siraj will bring her vivacious Arabian flamenco jazz to the Longwood stage featuring her new release, Dunya. Named the “Norah Jones of the Middle East,” by TimeOut New York, Sirai performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including the United Nations, The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Lincoln Center in New York, among others.
On Tuesday, February 28 at 8 pm, Simone Dinnerstein will perform a unique pairing of Franz Schubert’s Impromptus and Philip Glass’ Etudes. Dinnerstein is a critically acclaimed pianist characterized by her thoughtful and compelling interpretations that have captivated audiences all over the world. The New York-based pianist gained an international audience following the remarkable success of her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.
On Friday, March 31 at 8 pm, the most recent winner of the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition, Joshua Stafford, returns to perform Stafford received the Pierre S. du Pont First Prize in June 2016, winning over the judges with his artistic skills and command of The Longwood Organ. Stafford is a Curtis Institute of Music and Yale School of Music alumnus.
Special tickets are required for the performances and can be purchased online at 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 $23 for adults; $20 for seniors (age 62+); $13 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.