The gardens at Longwood (1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, 610/388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org, $16 adult, $14 senior, $6 student and child, free 4 and under) are credited to Pierre S. du Pont, great-grandson of Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, a French immigrant who founded the DuPont chemical company when he arrived in the area in 1800.
Pierre expanded the corporate empire of his family’s business and devoted some of his great wealth to the development of Longwood Gardens in 1906. A wealth of trees had already been planted by the Quaker Peirce family, the earliest owners of the land since the early 1700s. Pierre purchased it in 1906 to save it from destruction. While the gardens have continually evolved, Pierre is credited with much of what exists today.
In addition to more than 1,000 acres of lush, beautifully landscaped gardens, there is a sprawling multiroom greenhouse and a museum where you can learn about the early history of the gardens and the family that lived on the site in the Peirce-du Pont House.
Dating from 1730, the house is the oldest building on the grounds, and was the home of the Peirce family until 1905. It was later the weekend residence of Pierre du Pont from 1906 until his death in 1954. A short video plays inside, and there are several rooms of exhibits about the history of the estate.
The hours of the gardens, like the blooms and the exhibits, change seasonally. It is normally open daily 9 a.m.–5 or 6 p.m., with extended hours from late May to early September (Mon.–Wed. and Sun. 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Thurs., Fri., and Sat. 9 a.m.–10 p.m.) and during the winter holidays (daily 9 a.m.–9 p.m. late Nov.–early Jan.).
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition