Mr. Pierre Dupont, a wealthy industrialist did a marvelous thing when he gifted his estate and gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania for the public to enjoy. In 1906 he bought a run down farm in order to preserve the many trees that were slated to be cut down. Dupont characterized his purchase of the farm as an “act of insanity” at the time, but added he was looking forward to improving the property and entertaining guests. He loved fountains beginning at age six when he saw the huge display of water pumps at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Throughout his travels around the world he was influenced by great gardens and water features, using ideas to create Longwood Gardens. While visiting Longwood I was most impressed by the focus on water. Just like Dupont, I also have a fascination with water, especially waterfalls and fountains so thought I would share some of the “wonder of water” I found at Longwood.
The centerpiece of the gardens is the Main Fountain Garden. Several times a day there are shows which feature 1,719 jets of water leaping, spinning and dancing as music is played. You can watch the show up close in front of the largest fountains where you will most likely get a little wet, or farther back where you can view the whole show of both large and small fountains in a landscaped park like setting. I watched two different shows, the first time sitting in a seat farther away to experience the whole effect. The second time I stood right in front of the large fountains, feeling the mist and seeing rainbows appear through the water. The whole scene is reminiscent of a European castle and definitely a highlight of a visit to Longwood.
Mr. Dupont built an immense conservatory with a number of courtyards and rooms filled with trees, tropical plants, blooming flowers and huge hanging baskets. In addition, there is an outdoor pool filled with colorful water lilies that kept me wowed for some time due to their size and color. Not only are the many lilies impressive, but the water platters as the huge lily pads are called are really something as well. Some of them look like the size of very large serving platters with rounded upturned edges that look strong enough to hold a small army of frogs!
The Conservatory is filled with water features including streams, small waterfalls, fountains and pools. This is definitely a refreshing place to walk or sit and relax with plenty of room to find a quiet place to admire all the plants and water. One could easily spend an hour or more just appreciating everything under this roof.
My favorite part of Longwood is the Italian Water Garden. Mr. Dupont designed this garden based on a garden he saw while visiting near Florence, Italy. Both the flow and direction of water continually changes as you watch and shows his love for water. The blue tiled pools, manicured lawn, bushes and trees add to the loveliness of this serene place. I found it difficult to leave and kept walking around viewing the garden from different angles.
Another enchanting spot near the Italian Water Garden is a gazebo set in a woodland next to a small lake. It looks like a place from a fairy tale.
There is so much to see at Longwood you really need a full day with a lot of time spent on your feet! Even though it is so big, you have to get a timed ticket when you enter as they only let in so many people at a time to reduce crowding. We bought our tickets online choosing the time we wanted to come. I had to chuckle at this as there is so much space you could get lost here!
I enjoyed seeing the courtyards laid out with seasonal plantings and of course a water feature like in the photo above. Although much of Longwood is landscaped gardens, there are also paths through woodlands to explore, since maintaining the trees on the property was a goal of Mr. Dupont. Below is a picture of a favorite spot, a stream with lush ferns and purple irises in bloom.
The 61 foot ivy covered Chime Tower is a dreamy sight sitting next to a pond. Mr. Dupont constructed this in 1929, modeling it after a tower he saw in France. It reminds me of a tower from a medieval castle and was built with stones unearthed when the main fountain garden was built. Next to the tower is a 50 foot man made waterfall. Another great water discovery at Longwood.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this tour through the “wonder of water” at Longwood. If you have ever thought of visiting this gorgeous garden I would heartily recommend it. In all my travels throughout the U.S. this is the best garden I have been to!