Located on 1,077 acres in the heart of southeastern Chester County, Pa., Longwood Gardens is recognized worldwide for its impressive horticultural displays.
The former home of industrialist Pierre du Pont, the property offers formal and informal gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, and a 4-1/2-acre conservatory with orchids, cacti, roses, tropical plants, palms, and seasonal arrangements. But this summer, the landmark cultural attraction will also be celebrated for its jaw-dropping special effects.
“Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” runs Wednesdays through Saturdays, July 1–Oct. 31. Held after the sun goes down, the exhibit turns plants into a canvas for visual displays.
Nightscape is the work of Klip Collective in Philadelphia, founded by photographer Pier Nicola D’Amico and video artist Ricardo Rivera, whose installations have appeared in the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Center for Contemporary Art in Moscow.
For more than a year, Rivera and his team visited the gardens to find the best locations for the video displays, said the gardens’ Patricia Evans.
The installation will target at least eight areas, including rooms within the conservatory. “In some cases, you will walk through it. Or, you may stand and watch the light show, which repeats every few minutes,” Evans explaind. “Some areas, such as our large lake, have five-to-seven minute shows.” Guests will see colors, shapes, and some discernable images — all with a soundtrack.
Although the video magic does not start until after dark, there are enough activities at Longwood this summer that visitors can find plenty to do before sunset. On Thursdays during the “Nightscape” exhibit’s run, Longwood is partnering with Victory Brewing Company to open a beer garden adjacent to the restaurant patio. Picture long tables and outdoor lighting, as well as German fare. Using some ingredients grown in the gardens, Victory is making custom summer and fall brews just for Longwood Gardens. The beer garden will also feature live music.
Speaking of music, Longwood has a full roster of performances this summer, including Mary Chapin Carpenter (June 23), Fiddler on the Roof (July 23–25 and July 30–Aug. 1), Melissa Etheridge (Aug. 25), and the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club’s Adios Tour (Aug. 30).
Make your visit to Longwood part of a garden getaway. Longwood is close to the Brandywine River Museum, Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Hagley Museum and Library, Mt. Cuba Center, and Chanticleer. These are just a few of the 31 sites that make up the Greater Philadelphia Gardens and, together, they’re the reason why the region is now known as “America’s Garden Capital.”
Your accommodations can also provide a feast for the senses. There are a bevy of bed-and-breakfasts in the Brandywine Valley, and many have scenic landscapes.
Consider the Inn at Whitewing Farm, located next to Longwood Gardens, where the grounds are sprinkled with rare trees and perennials. (There’s also a Har-Tru tennis court and putting green.) The Pennsbury Inn’s gardens are a certified wildlife habitat, and there are roses, butterfly bushes, vegetable plants, and flowers that keep the rooms festive throughout the growing season.
Tickets to “Nightscape: A Light and Sound Experience” are $27 for ages 19 and older; $17 for ages 5 to 18 and free for children 4 and younger.
Brandywine Valley B&B Assn.: bvbb.com
Chester Co. Tourism: brandywinevalley.com
Longwood Gardens: longwoodgardens.org/nightscape