Longwood Upgrade debuts in November; Buy Fireworks Tickets Now – Town Square Delaware LIVE


Exterior view of the Winter Garden courtesy of Longwood Gardens – Daniel TraubExterior view of the Winter Garden courtesy of Longwood Gardens – Daniel Traub

Longwood Garden's will officially unveil its new revitalization project to the public beginning November 22, although many parts will be visible year-round. Photo by Daniel Traub/Longwood.

Longwood Gardens has announced an early Christmas present for its fans: Its $250 million revitalization project — touted as the most ambitious of its upgrades in 2021 — is scheduled to open to the public on November 22, just in time for A Longwood Christmas and its deluge of Visitors.

Tickets also went on sale starting Tuesday, April 9, for the popular fireworks and fountain shows, which, new this year, come with designated seat numbers. The shows, which feature illuminated water features and choreography to classical and popular music, begin the July 4th holiday weekend and end October 13th.

Longwood switches

Longwood, a former du Pont estate, has not hesitated to spend heavily on expanding its offerings, often with a focus on better protecting nature.

In 2014, a meadow garden was added, partly as a message to create habitat for native plants, insects and animals that thrive in a non-toxic environment, rather than manicured and chemically assisted lawns.

It's also not afraid to have fun. The five-year, $90 million restoration of the official fountains was the largest in the United States and draws large crowds to the illuminated fountain shows, sometimes accompanied by fireworks in the summer.

Shows that go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday often sell out, especially Fourth of July shows. The new reserved seating plan means you can choose your seat when purchasing a ticket, so you don't have to drag your own chairs into the gardens and search for a line of sight.

This year's shows include Stars and Stripes Forever on July 3; Take Me With You: Inspired by Prince on July 20; Get Back: The Beatles on August 10; Someone Like You: Artists Who Inspired Adele on September 1st; Italian Spectacular on September 28th; and Spark Your Imagination on October 13th. Tickets are $50 to $75, plus a $3 fee each. Get them here.


Longwood's new West Conservatory, with glass walls that can be moved depending on the weather, opens in November.

Longwood reimagined

Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience was designed to transform 17 acres to enhance the visitor experience, including a 32,000 square foot winter garden designed by WEISS/MANFREDI as a living and breathing glasshouse with walls and roofs that open and close reaction to the weather. There will be gardens, pools and fountains designed by Reed Hilderbrand.

The opening will be celebrated with two weeks of festivities, including members-only preview days and special events.

“This marks an exciting chapter in Longwood’s continued evolution over the past seven decades from a private estate to one of the largest public horticultural destinations in the world,” said Paul Redman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens. With its “inspired designs, Longwood adds important 21st-century examples to one of the world’s most significant collections of garden designs and greenhouses.”

Spring planting

Planting of the new West Conservatory garden – 60 permanent plant species and a rotating selection of approximately 90 seasonal plant species – will begin this month.

Reed Hilderbrand drew inspiration for this garden from the wild and cultivated landscapes of the Mediterranean ecozone, found in six regions of the world where alkaline soils predominate and water is precious.

The Mediterranean garden features tufted, low hill plants with accents of dramatic plant forms that thrive in the characteristic hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

The palette for this carpet-like garden design is extensive and includes iconic plants from six geographical areas with a Mediterranean climate: the Mediterranean, the Cape region of South Africa, the California coast, central Chile, southwestern Australia and southern Australia.

The Central Grove will also begin planting this spring. It is located next to the revitalized Waterlily Court, designed by Sir Peter Shepheard in 1989, and serves as the entrance to the new West Conservatory and the relocated Cascade Garden.

This room will feature 22 ginkgo trees with a carpet of Lenten roses, nodding ladies' strands and Christmas ferns. The Central Grove, Waterlily Court and 1906 restaurant, overlooking the Main Fountain Garden, will open early to visitors on October 11th.

Reconstruction of the Cascade Garden

A key element of Longwood Reimagined is the relocation, preservation and reconstruction of the Cascade Garden, designed by Roberto Burle Marx in 1992, into a new, custom-built greenhouse.

It has outgrown and will be the first historic garden in Longwood to be relocated.

“One of the highlights of my career was working with Mr. Burle Marx in 1992 on the original creation of the Cascade Garden,” said Sharon Loving, Chief Horticulture and Facilities Officer at Longwood. “It was like watching a magician at work – he transformed a small space in an existing conservatory into an enchanting vertical environment with 16 waterfalls flowing into clear, dark ponds amidst vines and stunning bromeliads.”

A new greenhouse is tailored specifically to his needs, she said.

The move will require moving hundreds of pieces of the original slate that lined plant beds and garden walls. Installing updated mechanical systems and fountain systems that will improve both the garden's climate control and its sustainability; and the construction of the garden's central path, which was redesigned to meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act without compromising the original intent of the historic garden.

From its new home, the garden reiterates Burle Marx's 1992 call to protect the world's threatened rainforests.

Overlook, Plaza open May 9th

The new Conservatory Terrace Overlook and Lower Conservatory Plaza will open May 9 when Longwood's Main Fountain Garden resumes performances for the summer season.

The lookout and plaza are part of a major new east-west promenade that brings together buildings and landscapes, from lush formal gardens to views over open meadows, into a cohesive landscape.

A 700-foot-long promenade bordered by an avenue of 28 yellowwood trees planted last spring and another of 28 elms scheduled to be planted this spring leads visitors to the West Conservatory Plaza, revealing the Stand of hundred-year-old trees. old London plane trees framing the view of the Brandywine Valley.

From the Conservatory Overlook and Lower Conservatory Plaza, guests enjoy views of the Main Fountain Garden, which combines dramatic water features with music and fireworks. The viewing point also features wide stone steps for sitting and watching the popular fountain performances.

Other elements

Other elements of the Longwood Reimagined project are ongoing or near completion, including construction of The Grove, a new educational and administrative building with a state-of-the-art library and classrooms, with interior work underway.

The potting shed, which will house the bonsai workshop for Longwood's remarkable bonsai collection, began renovations this winter. The bonsai collection will rotate in the new outdoor bonsai courtyard, creating a gallery-like environment in which specimens of rare Japanese tree species can be admired Kicho Bonsai – Major bonsai masterpieces, so called because of their beauty or rarity.