Single plant with 1,500 blooms to star in Longwood’s Chrysanthemum Festival

September 24, 2020 /

Longwood Gardens is one of our area’s most notable attractions. Their Christmas display brings hundreds of thousands to the Kennet Square area, but their ever-changing displays are reason enough to make multiple yearly visits. Betsy Price’s article below gives insight into what we can expect from this year’s annual Chrysanthemum Festival.

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While the rest of the world is mired in masks, no masks, sports, no sports, Trump or Biden, Longwood Gardens is quietly perking along with plans for its annual Chrysanthemum Festival and A Longwood Christmas to open on schedule.

Both will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions, including requiring masks, and the number of people allowed to enter will be lower, a Longwood spokeswoman said — but few fans are going to argue about the ability to admire the displays with a little more unencumbered space in which to do it.

The annual Chrysanthemum Festival will run Oct. 22-Nov. 15 and A Longwood Christmas will be Nov. 20 to Jan. 10, both with joyous displays in the conservatory and other attractions around the grounds.

The chrysanthemum show is tied to Longwood’s history. Chrysanthemums were grown and displayed there when founder Pierre S. du Pont opened the Grand Conservatory in 1921.

Highlights include the Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum, a single chrysanthemum plant grown to produce as many perfect blooms as possible. Measuring 12 feet wide and nearly 10 feet tall, this year’s plant needed 18 months to reach its count of more than 1,500 uniform blooms.

Longwood’s horticulturists also have grown and nurtured chrysanthemums into unique three-dimensional forms, including shields, fans and cloud forms.

Outdoors, nature puts on a show with its brilliant fall foliage. Longwood’s three treehouses and G-scale Garden Railway, which travels past  miniature Longwood landmarks, will be open.

Longwood is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 31 for the Illuminated Fountain Performances at 8:15 pm.

Tickets and member reservations should be made in advance online at longwoodgardens.org.

Complex by nature, chrysanthemums are divided into 13 classifications, each representing a distinct flower form. Longwood’s collection spans all classes and includes 226 cultivars, including many rare and unusual varieties.

The Chrysanthemum Festival is one of the largest chrysanthemum shows in the United States, Longwood says.

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