One of the world's most celebrated horticultural displays, Longwood Gardens showcases more than 11,000 different types of plants and flowers amid 1,050 acres of outdoor gardens and woodlands. For sheer size, Longwood is spectacular. But the ever-blooming displays throughout the grounds and conservatory are both creative and delightful, thanks to Pierre S. du Pont, who purchased the existing farm and arboretum in 1906, and from 1907 to 1954 designed most of what is enjoyed today.
Everybody has a favorite spot: the tropical paradise of the Conservatory; the eye-popping seasonal displays; the flower-garden walk that explodes in seasonal color; the understated Chimes Tower (with carillon); the Idea Garden to inspire home gardeners; the Flower Garden Fountains, the Italian Water Garden, or the Main Fountain Garden, whose 380 fountains and spouts rise over 130 feet high during one of the 5-minute displays throughout the day. There are also illuminated displays in the fountain garden on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings June through September, plus fireworks displays on several evenings in summer (check the website for a schedule). The recently restored East Conservatory is filled with water features among the plantings (serious gardeners will enjoy the audio-wand tours). Behind the ballroom is an organ museum with interactive displays for children. The Indoor Children's Garden was reopened in 2007, delighting children and adults with its whimsical fountains and garden paths. Three fanciful Treehouses scattered among the gardens outside offer a bird's eye view of the gardens for kids and adults alike.
Longwood's attractions also include seasonal plant displays (Christmas and Easter gardens are noteworthy) and hundreds of performances -- even ice-skating in December; check the website for a schedule. Facilities include the Peirce-du Pont House; a large museum shop; and the Terrace Restaurant, which has both a cafe and full-service dining room. Reservations are recommended for the dining room. Electric scooters, wheelchairs, and strollers are available for rental.