If you can get to Chester County for a visit, walking in Longwood Gardens may be one of the most mindblowing experiences of beauty you will ever have. Pennsylvania has many great gardens, arboretums, and parks, but Longwood is perhaps the most famous. It is a place of immense size, and unparalleled elegance.
It was a project of a famous chemical manufacturer; but it had Quaker (Society of Friends) antecedents. The Pierce family bought the land from William Penn in 1700 and set up a working farm. From 1798 the farm, under their descendants, also had an attractive arboretum, or collection of trees. During the 19th century the arboretum attracted many visitors. And what was by then the Pierce-Cox farm also acquired historical importance in another area. The Pierce-Cox family were ardent Abolitionists, among those wishing to do away with slavery in the United States. Their property became a station on the Underground Railway, a network of people working to help slaves escape from their owners and move to freedom.
Early in the 20th century Pierre S. DuPont, great-grandson of the founder of the DuPont Chemical Company, purchased the Pierce-Cox farm to save the trees. Over the years, in his hands and those of his successors, it grew into the wonderful treasure it has become. It has trees and plants, not only outside but indoors in a vast conservatory. There are ponds and fountains using recycled water, and there are exhibits and activities indoors and out, all year round.
As I write this, for example, the place is gearing up for two giant Fireworks and Fountains displays on August 14 and September 5. As for the exhibits and educational offerings, "Making Scents: The Art and Passion of Fragrance" will run through November 21. It has the scent of a winner!
Once you have paid for your ticket there is nothing to stop you from just wandering around enjoying the sights and scents and sounds--many musical and theatrical performances on the grounds are free with admission. In case you have more money and want to spend it, Longwood seems to have an upscale restaurant and gift shop. I believe there are also picnic grounds for the rest of us; but I have never been either to the restaurant or to the picnic grounds.
This post makes me wish I knew how to add pictures to my posts! But if you want to get a better visual idea of this Pennsylvania Eden, go to the expansive and informative web site at www.longwoodgardens.org There you can also learn about admission charges, hours, and much more.