Longwood Gardens to Complete Major Renovations in November

Significant renovations planned for Longwood Gardens will be completed at the Kennett Square horticultural center in fall 2024.

Longwood Gardens is a regional staple, drawing tourists from all over the country to Kennett Square every year. As an arboretum, its history goes back nearly three centuries, but this fall it will look to the future.

Longwood Reimagined: A New Garden Experience is one of Longwood’s most ambitious renovations in its vaunted history. Among the slate of additions to the center are the Conservatory Terrance Overlook; Waterlily Court; 1906 Restaurant; the relocation and reconstruction of the Cascade Garden; The Grove, which is a new education building; The Potting Shed, which will house Longwood Gardens’ bonsai collection and, most notably, the entirely new 32,000-sq-ft West Conservatory.

Longwood Reimagined brings the site into the 21st century.
Longwood Reimagined brings the site into the 21st century.

Wrapping up November 22, the total cost of the project is a whopping $250 million. Paul Reedman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens, calls it, “the most ambitious undertaking in our history.”

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Designed by WEISS/MANFREDI, in collaboration with Reed Hilderbrand, the West Conservatory transforms 17 acres of the Longwood Gardens property into a living and breathing glass house. Featuring gardens, pools and fountains designed by Hilderbrand, with walls and a roof that open and close according to the weather, this new building is the heart of Longwood Reimagined.

Though the rustic beauty of the old world attractions will remain, Longwood Reimagined melds the charm of its past with the splendor of its future. Despite so much history in its past, the renovation will launch Longwood Gardens into the 21st century.

The concept for the new West Conservatory will be distincly Mediterranean.
The concept for the new West Conservatory will be distinctly Mediterranean.

Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, the lead designers of the project, note, “The natural beauty of Longwood inspired our commitment to create a dialogue between nature and architecture, and the new conservatory is the centerpiece of a cinematic sequence of open and enclosed gardens. The relaxed geometries of the pleated conservatory roof and branching columns create tapered perspectives that link the informal geometries of the adjacent meadow with Longwood’s historic conservatories.”

Planting for the new garden will begin this spring, with 60 permanent plant species and 90 seasonal species. The inspiration for the new conservatory is drawn from wild and cultivated landscapes of the Mediterranean eco-zone and reflected in the tufted, low mounding plants with accents of dramatic forms.

Furthermore, Longwood Gardens is excited to bring a never-before-seen element to the West Conservatory.

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Indoor aquatics will be an important part of West Conservatory.
Indoor aquatics will add a new element to West Conservatory never before seen at Longwood Gardens.

“[This] marks the first time we have brought aquatics under glass. The pools that are the foundation of this immersive garden landscape will be filled with plants that are not only beautiful but interact beautifully with the water,” Reedman says.

Though Longwood Reimagined officially premieres this fall, individual elements of the project will open to the public before that date. The conservatory overlook will open in May, while The Waterlily Court, as well as the 1906 Restaurant, will open October 11.

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