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A few days ago, my daughter and I visited a treasure of Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens, just outside of Philadelphia. It could not have been a more perfect day to visit, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper sixties (F). I took 392 pictures! It’s been difficult to whittle them into a manageable post, but, with preemptive apologies, here’s my try!

I. Princess Trees along the main pathway:

Princess Trees (Paulownia tomentosa) are native to China and considered an invasive species here.

A couple years ago on a ride with my son to a town about ninety miles south of our home, in a hardiness zone one warmer than our own, I started noticing lovely purple blooming trees among the other trees on the hillsides. They were nothing I was familiar with, and I’ve wondered about them ever since. I saw many of them again on our trip to Longwood, again beginning about 90 miles south of home, and I hoped that I might find the answer when we arrived at the gardens. Little did I know they would be the first thing we saw!

Princess Trees were brought here in the late 1800s as ornamental specimens. While lovely, they are considered invasive here, growing rapidly and prolifically, often smothering out native species. They grow between thirty and sixty feet tall and are happiest in hardiness zones 7-9. At Longwood, they line the path between the main entrance and the conservatory.

Princess Tree blossoms

II. The Conservatory–Entering the conservatory is like entering a lush, tropical garden. It’s filled with trees, palms, and plants of all varieties.

The view upon entering the conservatory

Two of my favorite trees:

Pink Powder-puff Tree (Calliandra surinamensis), from Tropical South America
Flowering Maple (Abutilon) ‘Red Tiger’

The textures in these palms are what caught my eye:

The spiny trunk of a Seychelles Stilt Palm (Verschaffeltia splendida)
Seychelles Stilt Palm leaf detail
Thatch Palm (Coccothrinax crinita) from Cuba
Thatch Palm’s hairy trunk is fantastic!

There were many beautiful flowers in the borders. So hard to choose just a few!

If a shady looking man in an unmarked van approached me and asked whether I wanted this piece of eye-candy, I’d probably hop right in! Columbine (Aquilegia) ‘PAS1258484’ (Earlybird Red White)
Fuchsia ‘Traudchen Bonstedt’
Fuchsia with calla lilies and anthurium along the border of the Orangery. I didn’t see labels identifying the calla or anthurium, but I’m sure they were there somewhere!
I really loved this Winter-Flowering Begonia! (Begonia x hiemalis) ‘Krvalpi01’ (Valentino Pink)
Border with Winter-Flowering Begonia and Fuchsia

The Silver Garden, still within the conservatory, is filled with succulents:

It’s always fun to see things I grow at home in a conservatory!
Parry Agave (Agave parryi), native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. I learned today that it is part of the asparagus family!

We skipped the children’s garden and walked the Garden Path, where I saw a familar, yet different, sight:

Apostle Plant, aka Walking Iris (Neomarica caerulea) ‘Regina’. Regular readers of my blog know I look forward every March to my own Walking Iris bloom, but with white petals, not purple!
Anthurium ‘Anthfytwal’ (Livium), looking like a candystriper!
Speaking of candy, here’s the Lollipop Plant (Pacystachys lutea), from South America, and part of the Acanthus family.
Hybrid Rose-Grape Medinilla ‘Royal Glow’

III. The Orchid Room in the conservatory deserves its own section. Recently renovated and reopened in late winter this year, it is a large, naturally bright room where orchids are displayed gallery-style, in pots installed along the four walls of tall windows. Seemingly small, it holds an enormous number of orchids. I promise to show you only six of my favorites!

One wall of the newly restored Orchid Room at Longwood Gardens
Dendrobium Frosty Dawn
Oncidium Tiger Brew ‘Pacific Holiday’ seems to have a bumblebee in its center!
Oncidium Tiger Brew ‘Pacific Holday’
These really are teeny-tiny! The flowers are less than one inch across.
Masdevallia Georgian Franczyk ‘Purple Gem’ looks like it came from another galaxy!
I really liked the Paphiopedilums. This green goddess is Rosetti.
Paphiopedilum Berenice seems to have quite the personality!

I probably should write a whole separate post about the orchids–so many of them were my favorites! But now, on we shall move!

IV. Fountains–Shortly after we left the conservatory, a show began at the Main Fountain Gardens, and we enjoyed streams of water dancing and leaping into the sky to the strains of Aaron Copeland’s Rodeo and other classical masterpieces.

As spectacular as the Main Fountain Garden is, my daughter and I were perhaps more enchanted by the Italian Water Garden, a more natural, serene setting:

We gasped in delight when we came upon the Italian Water Garden! It’s an almost hidden treasure at Longwood Gardens.
Italian Water GardenWe could have lingered here all afternoon!

There is another fountain garden in the open air theater, but we did not manage to catch one of the shows there. On summer weekend nights, and at Christmastime, there are colorful, illuminated fountain shows. We caught two of those on a visit in December 2019, and they were fantastically choreographed and presented!

If you are interested in the workings of the fountain display, you can visit the historic Pump Room and Gallery and see some of the old equipment. Additionally, Longwood offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the current system, at an additional cost.

Pump Room and Gallery, under the main fountains

V. Wisteria–We came at just the right time to hit the Japanese Wisteria at its best!

Japanese Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba’ The scent here was heavy and heavenly!
The purple wisteria seemed a little farther along than the white.

VI. The Rose Garden, sans roses! Just before we left, I spotted a small garden at the end of the temporarily closed Topiary Garden. It was the Rose Garden, but only one rose bush had any open flowers this early in the season. The borders of this bed, however, were kaleidoscopic!

The eastern border of the Rose Garden
Clematis ‘Stand by Me’–I did not know that “Leather Flower” is another name for clematis!
Leather Flower on the brink
Salvia and lupine (probably ‘Masterpiece’) in the border
Avens Geum ‘Wet Kiss’
Part of the western border
Clematis-flowered Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris var. stellata
Such a lovely, delicate color!
I could not get enough of this lupine. I didn’t see a plant tag for it, but consulted Longwood’s plant database and determined it to be Lupinus ‘Tequila Flame’. It’s a real standout, for sure!

Well, congratulations for making it to the end! Perhaps I stretched the intent of Six on Saturday a bit to fit in most of what I wanted, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of Longwood Gardens in mid-spring. Do you have a favorite garden anywhere near you? I’d love to hear about it! Thank you to The Propagator for hosting this weekly meme. Check out his post for the week, and perhaps a few others that have linked to it!

One last view from a beautiful day. (No, the person on the bench is not I, but I wish it were!)