Longwood Gardens consists of about 1,100 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows located on US Route 1, about 3 miles northeast of Kennett Square (PA) in the Brandywine Creek Valley.
It is regarded as one of the premier botanical gardens in the U.S.
What is now Longwood Gardens was originally purchased from William Penn in 1700 by a fellow Quaker named George Peirce (1646–1734).
Although it started as a working farm, in 1798 twin brothers Joshua and Samuel Peirce planted the first specimens of an arboretum there, originally named Peirce’s Park, and it has been open to the public almost continuously since that time.
By 1850, they had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation.
Industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870–1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family in 1906 to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber.
He made it his private estate, and from 1906 until the 1930s, du Pont added extensively to the property. A world traveler from an early age, du Pont was often inspired to add features to the garden after attending world’s fairs, the most notable additions being a massive conservatory (pictured above), and an extensive system of outdoor fountains.
Du Pont opened his estate to the public many days of the year during his occupancy and was even known, on a rare occasion, to personally (and anonymously) provide tours to visitors.
Following the completion of the fountains, du Pont began planning for the sustained life of Longwood Gardens after his death. According to his 1946 will filed in Delaware, he founded Longwood Foundation Inc. and left most of his estate "for the maintenance and improvement of the gardens."
Upon du Pont’s unexpected death in April 1954, Henry B. du Pont, president of the Longwood Foundation, announced, "There will be no change in our long-standing policy of opening the gardens and greenhouse to the public every day in the week."
58 years later, that policy is still in effect.
Image by Ron Cogswell on June 30, 2012, using a Nikon D80 and minor Photoshop effects.
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