Late winter can be dreary in the northern U.S., but not at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA, 30 miles west of Philadelphia.
From January until March each year (January 21-March 31, 2017), you can step inside the garden’s heated 4-acre conservatory and be transported into a warm oasis filled with thousands of colorful orchid blooms displayed in extraordinary ways during the annual Orchid Extravaganza.
A one-of-a-kind horticultural display, Orchid Extravaganza features concerts, talks, tours, OrKid Days for children, and more, all tucked indoors away from winter’s chill.
The stars of the event are the more than 4,500 blooming orchids on display throughout the conservatory in a mass of colors, sizes, and shapes; Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium are just a few of the varieties showcased in the exhibit.
A towering arch of Phalaenopsis orchids welcomes guests to the East Conservatory, while huge orbs of Phalaenopsis hang above the Exhibition Hall. Longwood’s famed orchid curtain is a 17-feet tall stunning display of 250 Phaleanopsis and Cattleya orchids cascading top to bottom. Urns of colorful Cymbidiums line the Acacia Passage, while the Silver Garden features hundreds of vibrant blue Vanda orchids hanging overhead.
Guests can also enjoy orchid rarities such as the Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’ orchids on display in the Orangery. Grown by experts in Taiwan, the orchids are notable for the sheer number of flowers blooming at one time on each flower stalk. 2015 marked the first time these orchids had been on display at a public garden in the United States.
OrKid Days (January 16, February 20, and March 18 from 11 am–2 pm) encourages children to spend the day experiencing Longwood in special activities designed just for them. Discovery stations, interactive storytelling, and a family seek-and-find are a few of the activities for children to enjoy. This program is free with the garden admission.
A music series is scheduled during Orchid Extravaganza. Past performances have included a recital by James O’Donnell, organist and master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey in London, and New Zealand’s Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra known for its unique mix of humor, small instruments, and musicality. Concert tickets are purchased separately.
WHEN YOU GO:
Additional indoor highlights worth a visit at Longwood Gardens include the Mediterranean Garden, a riot of vibrant color January through April with Australian purple coral-pea vines blooming like miniature wisteria. The Estate Fruit House flourishes with nectarines, melons, and other fruits and vegetables in the midst of winter. In early March, Longwood’s famed blue poppy blooms in the Conservatory’s Exhibition Hall.
Longwood Gardens is considered one of the world’s great horticultural displays with 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, plus a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and a 4.5-acre conservatory. Two restaurants, The 1906 Fine Dining and the Café, offer culinary artistry to complement your visit. A full range of hotels and B&B options can be found in the nearby Brandywine Valley and in the greater Philadelphia area.
Longwood Gardens is open at 9am daily. Admission is charged. Visit www.longwoodgardens.org for details.