Longwood Gardens

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania | C.1906

Photo Credit: Randy Neil

Nestled in the rolling hills of the Brandywine Valley just outside of Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens’ internationally renowned botanical gardens are comprised of over 1,000 acres. The gardens and grounds have a rich history rooted in the art, display, and education of horticulture.

Situated on lands once inhabited by the Lenni Lenape tribe, the Gardens origins date back as early as 1700. After Quaker farmer George Pierce purchased 402 acres from William Penn, he and his family cultivated the land for 30 years. Pierce’s grandchildren inherited the farm and began planting an arboretum fueled by their interest in natural history.

By the mid-19th century, the Pierce’s arboretum had evolved into one of the nation’s most revered collections of trees. Soon, public picnics were held on the grounds, then known as Pierce’s Park. In 1906, the Park was under threat to be harvested for timber after it had been passed out of the family. Pierre S. duPont, American businessman and member of the influential duPont family, purchased the land in order to save the trees.

duPont would eventually transform the grounds into what is now known as Longwood Gardens. Over the years, he added outdoor gardens, an open-air theater, and a stately Conservatory. The Longwood Organ, a 10,010 pipe instrument designed by Belgian musician Firmin Swinnen, was added in 1929. To this day it’s played in the Conservatory’s ballroom where its music can be heard among the flower and plant displays.

While open year-round, Longwood Gardens is particularly known for its annual Christmas light display, as well as the Orchid and Spring Blooms attractions. In 2019, the Gardens were recognized as the best botanical holiday display in the United States.

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