The flowers are blooming

Posted May 6th, 2008 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Anyone reading my scribbles will undoubtedly think that all we do is travel to some place, take lots of photographs and then write about it here. And if they do think so, Amen to that. This Sunday we went on a day trip to Longwood gardens near Philadelphia . Now, I have been meaning to go there for a few years but given the seasonal limitations in touring gardens, it never panned out. But this year, I was determined to make it this time, the spring blooms festival was going on and I didn’t want to miss it. We started bright and early (for a Sunday, that is) at 9 am along with our friends Ajith & Lakshmi and their super-friendly kid Adithya to Longwood—about 2 hours drive away.

Longwood gardens has about 1000 acres of parkland of which approximately 300 acres are open to the public. These contain several outdoor gardens and a some indoor gardens including hothouses and conservatories. In early 1900s, Pierre Dupont bought this land from the Pierce family: a Quaker family, who were owners from the late 1700s. They had already planted a small arboretum on the land. Peirre du Pont probably was delighted with the arboretum and he wanted to make sure that the gardens are preserved for the future. He and his wife were keen horticulturists and developed the gardens, often getting ideas and seedlings from the various places around the world. The gardens have always been open for the public to enjoy.

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We started with the indoor conservatory, which has several smaller gardens within. Amongst the common begonias, hydrangeas, geraniums, lilies, daisies and nasturtiums, pansies that we regularly see, there were a thousand other varieties of flowers some of them I had never seen or heard of but all of them in peak bloom. Unlike the flowers at the florists where the flowers are often genetically modified and have no fragrance, the entire conservatory was redolent with gentle wafting perfumes from all these flowers. There were flowers from all over the world : giant hibiscus flowers with colors and size that I have never seen, beautiful fragrant roses, various varieties of orchids that made me rethink my belief that orchids were over-rated, the exotic bird of paradise flowers just to name a few. Other than the flowers, the indoor conservatory also had a fern passage that had myriad varieties of pitcher plants, the Venus fly traps, giant ferns, a tiny fruit house with figs, clementines, kumquats and melons and a collection of amazing bonsais

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We had a picnic lunch where we ate the unusual but wonderfully tasty combination of spicy fish wontons, caprese salad sandwich and some mouthwatering chaat. We then walked off our heavy lunch by touring the outdoor gardens. There were several gardens each of them uniquely designed and each one of them more beautiful than the previous one. The tulips were in full bloom at the flower walk, there was the symmetric Italian water garden with several fountains, vast meadows lined with gigantic copper beech trees, a topiary where evergreens were trimmed to create whimsical shapes, a waterfall, lakes, a tree-house and an idea garden for those who wanted to carry off a tip or two to try in their own gardens.

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By the end of the day, our legs were tired from walking all throughout but we still couldn’t tear ourselves away from the gardens. I was a little worried at the beginning of the trip, if the gardens would live upto the expectations that a two year wait created. But I needn’t have worried, after all good things come to those who wait!!

Photographs at our photosite.

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