We're lucky to live just 90 or so minutes away from what many consider to be the top public garden in the U.S. - Longwood Gardens near Wilmington.  It's an easy day trip, and a stop at Longwood can even be combined with one of the other heavenly gardens nearby (Nemours Mansion and Gardens, Chanticleer, the Scott Arboretum, Winterthur). 

Somehow I hadn't seen Longwood for at least a decade until my recent visit, so I had some catching up to do.  One recent addition are the treehouses, three of them.  They're grand like the one above or smaller and funky.  Kids and adults were crawling all over them.  They may just inspire visitors to build one at home.

Above and below are the much newer “first terraced lawn in the United States” and “largest indoor green wall in North America.”  Both designed by “renowned British landscape architect” Kim Wilkie.  (Quotes are from Longwood's press release about them.)

For the terraced lawn Longwood uses a "novel and innovative combination of overhead and subsurface irrigation systems to provide adequate and efficient hydration.” I’d love to know how they mow it!

The Green Wall

The green wall, covering over 4,000 square feet and packed with 47,000 plants, is awesome but apparently I missed the best part of this whole project – the rest rooms!  Or excuse me – “contemporary lavatories,” to quote again from the press release.  I read (now, too late!) that they’re underground, dome-shaped and naturally lit.  And sure enough, a friend later asked me “Aren’t those bathrooms cool?”  So if you visit, don’t miss the bathroom experience of your life.

Another newish feature at Longwood is an indoor children’s garden, which I didn’t photograph (too packed with kids!) but looks like loads of fun.  With coves, a secret room, a maze, a tunnel and another maze plus lots of magical critters, it’s an obvious hit with the kids.

The photo above is of eager learners in the Silver Garden, which has always been my favorite feature at Longwood.  On my weekday visit there were groups like this everywhere.  Lucky kids!

The Silver Garden, like the other 5+ acres under glass, looks great every day of the year.

And new this year are the trial gardens shown above.  There you'll see house more than 250 cultivars within 10 genera: Clematis, Dahlia, Paeonia, Capsicum, Agastache, Salvia, Pentas, Lantana, Colocasia, and Canna.  Visitors get to see the plants on trial AND vote for their favorites.  They simply click here throughout the summer to participate in voting.

A very special feature of Longwood Gardens are all the fountains, including these plus the even grander central fountains where the sound and light shows are performed.  Great place to spend July 4th!

In fact, there are dozens of special shows going on at Longwood gardens - their Summer Concerts, for example.

Plant Features

And finally, here are some of my favorite plants that were blooming when I visited.  Longwood has a handy guide for every week of the year and given our unusually cool spring, I saw what’s normally seen the first week of June during my late-May visit.  That means it was post-azalea and pre-rose, but right-on for the rhodos, like the ones seen above with the treehouse.

Baptisias seen in front of blooming Ninebark.  Below, more Baptisia but this time in yellow.  With Allium, etc.

Lupines are something I never see here in Maryland.  Lots more rhododendrons in the background.

Siberian iris, which I much prefer to the fancier bearded Iris.

Next, more Iris blooming with a lush display of ferns along a stream.  So cool!

It was peony-blooming time, too.

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