Well I do feel guilty overposting when I don’t even take the time to respond to comments or visit other blogs, but there was a second part to my recent garden-day-out which just doesn’t fit into that post, and it’s just too good to not share (as opposed to some of the things I put on about my own garden!). Our beautiful morning in the private garden of Charles Cresson was followed by an equally beautiful afternoon at the very public Longwood Gardens. Of course we were late, so there were a few seconds of nervousness when we saw the crowded parking lot and the well-past admission time on our timed tickets, but all was well. We cruised through a perfectly distanced and contact-free admission process and were exploring the grounds just minutes later.
Longwood’s bell tower with fall color and some late afternoon sunshine.
The weather was still perfect, the grounds were perfect, the fall colors were perfect, the water was clear, fresh sod was laid, the paths were raked. Longwood is an excellent autumn strolling garden, but to be honest I sometimes get a tiny bit bored. I wasn’t in the mood to hike the meadow, I had seen miles and miles of autumn color on the drive down, and all the summer plantings were already out and replaced with uber-neat animal netting to protect the recent tulip plantings, or super tidy raked soil. It all made me feel somewhat guilty for the unplanted bulbs and general mess at home, so our stroll was actually kinda short.
Hamamelis virginiana ‘Harvest Moon’ looking exceptional amongst late bloomers and autumn grasses. It’s in full sun by the way, and I’ve noticed that even the wild ones which line my path to work bloom much heavier when in full sun.
My friend Paula was with me, and we both agreed that next year Longwood should call us and let us pick through their trash pile of discarded annuals and tropicals and help them get rid of some of that mess. I’m sure my better half would have no problem with me coming home with a trunk full of things to pot up and keep inside all winter 🙂
In the gardens behind the bell tower I saw a few big clumps of ricepaper plant (Tetrapanax papyrifer) which looked as if they had overwintered in the spot. I love the leaf on this thing and have been trying to get one for years, even if it is a terrible spreader and some people are allergic to the fine hairs…
A very well-planned combination of yellow Amsonia hubrichtii foliage backed by a ripening crop of yellow berried American holly (Ilex opaca)
Of course you can’t judge me for thinking I have either the room or time to take in dozens of high maintenance and tender plants which are totally unreasonable for my garden. It’s a much cheaper addiction than fancy shoes that don’t fit comfortably or a flat screen tv which is just too big for a room which sits you six feet away. But I’m digressing. We actually came to see the mums, and as we approached the conservatory things started to look promising.
Wow 🙂 Hardy chrysanthemums grown as a basket on top (I think) raised high over a planter of the same.
Last year I visited the NY Botanical Garden to see their display and I loved it, but for all their variety and diverse forms and traditional training techniques, Longwood had less but more and went straight for the Wow.
My favorite part, the explosion of yellow lining the path across the orangery. Giant yellow chrysanthemums and a wall of yellow Salvia madrensis.
If you’re still with me you may be wondering just how exactly you can “have less but more”, so let me try and explain myself. There were fewer total varieties and forms, but hundreds of each. I don’t know how you plan or find the room to grow and train hundreds (or even thousands!?) of mums to football size perfection, but apparently Longwood does.
There was so much yellow here I wanted to roll in it.
The rest of the conservatories were just more wow. I think the less I write the better, so here it is.
The exhibition hall, flooded with a film of reflective water and shaded by tree ferns. The topiary are begonias and I don’t think I’ve ever liked begonias more.
The ‘thousand bloom’ chrysanthemums. A single plant grown and trained for a meticulously perfect show. The one in back is absolutely huge.
Maybe these were all the leftovers? A merciful Longwood employee opened the one-way barrier and let me through when she saw me standing there mumbling ‘I need to go there, I need to go there’. I loved it. Maybe this was my favorite…
If the yellow was too much there were plenty of yellow-free zones.
Yeah there were a lot. ‘Chrysanthemum Festival’ is a worthy title.
And every single, last one was perfectly grown. I suspect there’s still half a greenhouse worth of backups somewhere!
I enjoyed it. If you’ve never been I recommend giving it a try, just know that the display comes down this weekend and the conservatories close until after Thanksgiving as they prep for Christmas, so that someday visit might have to wait until next year.
Keep your fingers crossed and faces masked in the meantime. The kids are annoyed I didn’t take them along, and are anxious to see this year’s Christmas decorations, but with record COVID cases and rising deaths across the country and with rising numbers in Pennsylvania I don’t know how that will work out. I’d say we can hope and pray for the best but seriously… just wear the stupid mask and avoid the party at the bar and that will probably get us much further than some false hopes and empty prayers.
But I’m probably preaching to the choir here. Stay healthy and have an excellent weekend and wish me luck as I finally consider my own messy garden and unplanted bulbs 🙂