Re-acquainting with a Chester County landmark – A commentary by Dave Conard Sports Editor, KennetTimes.com
KENNETT SQUARE—A funny thing happened the other day when my daughter came home from school almost bursting with excitement because she had been told by her teacher that her class was going to get to go on a field trip.
“Field trip” a word that you don’t hear nearly as often as you used to.
What is it about cramming in a bus with your entire class for a long drive that is sure to feel longer on the way there, than the return trip, that gets kids so delirious ?
It got me thinking and remembering back to my days in Elementary school, and the excitement along with anticipation that came over me when we heard the mere announcement of a “field trip”.
“Wow, what kind of trip will we get to go on, where will we go, what will we see, will I get to bring home a souvenir, (always the highlight of trips when I was a kid), maybe we’ll go to the zoo, all things that rattle around in the mind of pre teen, getting ready to be herded through the exhibits and walk ways of what is sure to be a crowded “tourist attraction”.
After returning the permission slip, a document which was so important that it had to be signed by mom or dad, and preparing the always mandatory, clearly labeled “paper bag lunch” it was time to board the buses for a new adventure and what was sure to be the highlight of the school year.
Through the years, thanks to budget cuts, transportation costs, lack of volunteer interest and enough bureaucratic red tape to sink a battleship, fields trips in public schools have almost gone the way of the dinosaurs like the ones so prominently displayed at typical field trip destinations like the Natural Sciences Museum in Philadelphia, which to this day is still one of my fondest childhood memories, I mean really, who doesn’t love dinos.
Fortunately for the children of Chester County and the surrounding area, there is a destination in their own back yard, which will not only engage their imaginations, but also stimulate their love a nature and let them marvel at how beautiful our world can be in Longwood Gardens.
As I grabbed my camera and ventured through the Kennett Square landmark to capture some of the amazing colors for our readers, I was spell bound by the smiles and looks on the children’s faces as they made their way through the spring blooms, magically bringing to mind the memories of my first Longwood experience many years ago as my classmates and I unloaded from the long bus ride, and were greeted by the blooming Dogwood trees, almost welcoming us with open arms.
Making their way along the trail toward the visitor center was Miss Wendy Clendening and her first grade class from Bancroft Elementary School, who had just gotten to explore the spring blooms, making memories of their own.
6-year old Ashley was quick to share the experience of her first ever field trip as only a child can
“This has been so much fun,” said the 6-year old KCSD first grader Ashley. “I loved the play house, I mean the tree house over there.”
“Seeing all of the things and the pretty flowers was the best part,” Ashley added when asked what had made an impression on her.
I don’t know if young Ashley or any of her classmates will remember 30 some odd years from now, what the eye of water or chimes tower looked like to the eye of a child.
As for myself, I couldn’t wait to make the turn around the main fountain garden and was not disappointed to find the chimes tower, which still plays some of the most amazing carillon music and even though weathered is still beautiful, standing right there where I left it so many years ago.
It’s hard to say how many indelible memories are made on any given day as the hundreds of children, teachers and parent volunteers stay in formation, while exploring one of the most artistic horticultural attractions in the country.
I can only speak for myself in saying my stroll through Longwood Gardens took me back to a time and place where life was far less complicated and the future was far too big of a concept to grasp.
Hopefully for youngsters like Ashley and Miss Clendening’s class, school districts will always do what it takes to find a way to make sure that “field trips” to places like Longwood Gardens stay on the calendar.
Here is what is going on this spring at Longwood Gardens.
.Spring Blooms at Longwood Gardens near Kennett Square, PA, March 31–May 20. Enjoy hundreds of lush acres featuring burgeoning gardens of daffodils, tulips, magnolias, azaleas, flowering cherries and more than 235,00 tulips. Indoors, lilies, delphiniums, hydrangeas and other spring blossoms fill the conservatory with color. Guests won’t want to miss Longwood’s three grand treehouses, whimsical Topiary Garden, and colorful Idea Garden. Daily visitor programs, including gardening demonstrations, behind-the-scenes tours, and talks add to Longwood’s charms. Children will enjoy the many lively bee-themed activities in the outdoor Bee a-Mazed Children’s Garden, and the imaginative fun of the Indoor Children’s Garden.
Anoushka Shankar, April 5
One of the leading figures in world music today, sitar player and composer Anoushka Shankar has deep roots in Indian classical music. Shankar breaks new ground as she brings together the passionate and diverse music of Spain with the vibrant, ancient forms of the Indian classical tradition. She performs April 5 at 8 pm. Tickets are $40 and include Gardens admission and can be purchased online at ticketphiladelphia.com or by calling 215.893.1999.
Easter Weekend, April 7 & 8
Celebrate Easter with the scrumptious Easter Buffet in Longwood’s elegant Ballroom. Choose from a wide selection of meats and side dishes, brunch items, a pasta station, omelette station, a “children’s favorites” station, a tempting dessert selection, and more. For the complete menu, visit www.longwoodgardens.org. Special reservations are required and can be purchased online.
New York-based pianist Simone Dinnerstein graces the Longwood Ballroom stage on April 11 at 8 pm. Julliard-graduate Dinnerstein gained international recognition due to the success of her recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Her latest album, Bach: A Strange Beauty, released in 2011, immediately earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart. Her Longwood program will include works by Bach, Chopin, and Schubert. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at ticketphiladelphia.com or by calling 215.893.1999.
Delaware Daffodil Show, April 14 & 15
Ever wonder how many types of daffodils there are? Find out that and much more when the Delaware Valley Daffodil Society holds its annual flower show on April 14 and 15. Local growers and exhibitors from as far away as Virginia and Connecticut bring hundreds of blooms to Longwood for this competitive show. Visitors can see a wide variety of flowers and get new ideas for their own gardens. Society members are on hand to share their knowledge about buying and growing daffodils. Show hours are 9 am-6 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Senior Day, April 16 & 17
Seniors (and young adults, too) will enjoy activities designed especially for them on April 16 &17. The fun begins at 10:30 am as gardeners create dazzling floral displays during a flower arranging demonstration. Learn a variety of quick and easy cooking techniques when the chefs of the Terrace Restaurant get cookin’ during a fun and interactive cooking demo at 11:30 am. At 2 pm, travel back in time and enjoy a silent movie accompanied by the Longwood Organ.
Longwood’s Tram will be running throughout the day and the Terrace restaurant and café will offer special menu items. Longwood admission for Seniors (62+) is $15. All activities (excluding meals) are free with Gardens admission.
Earth Day, April 20, noon-4 pm
Celebrate Earth Day by going behind-the-scenes, meeting our staff, and exploring the research, science, and BIG machines behind our sustainable efforts. From noon-4 pm, learn about our solar field, scoop a bag of our made-on-site compost for your garden, check out some cool bugs used in our pest management program, make a wildflower seed ball and much more. Activities are included in Gardens admission.
Paquito D’Rivera Quartet, April 21
Paquito D’Rivera is celebrated for both his artistry in Latin Jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. With nine Grammy awards and more than 30 solo albums to his credit, he has received numerous accolades including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Carnegie Hall. He brings his authentic Latin jazz to Longwood April 21 at 8 pm. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased online at ticketphiladelphia.com or by calling 215.893.1999
Eroica Trio, April 26
The Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio is one of the most sought-after trios performing today. Comprised of Erika Nickrenz on piano, Susie Park on violin and Sara Sant’Ambrogio on cello, the trio has won the prestigious Naumburg Award and will present a program including works form Jean-Baptiste Loeillet, John Ireland, Johannes Brahms and more April 26 at 8 pm in the Ballroom. Tickets are $35 and include Gardens admission and can be purchased online at ticketphiladelphia.com or by calling 215.893.1999.
Longwood Gardens was founded in 1906 when Pierre S. du Pont purchased a well-known arboretum, Peirce’s Park, to save the trees from being cut for lumber. Longwood celebrates its historic trees Arbor Day Weekend, April 28 & 29 from noon-4 pm. Families can enjoy tours of historic Peirce’s Park; discover what it is like to “Gear Up” and be an Arborist (ages 6-12); and see the unique tools our skilled arborists use to take care of our trees. Take a Champion Trees Tour and see a few of the 62 Pennsylvania Champion and Co-Champion trees growing at Longwood. Discover how trees benefit our environment and see wood and bark samples from many tree varieties. The first 400 people each day receive a voucher for a tree seedling to take home.
Mother’s Day Weekend, May 12 & 13
Treat mom to a day of beauty, fine food and entertainment at Longwood Gardens. In addition to acres of fragrant and colorful spring blossoms, Longwood offers mom a host of delights. The soothing flute and cello music of Monica Buffington and Mugurel Radu fill the conservatory from noon-3 pm on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, the sounds of Longwood’s majestic 62-bell carillon, as played by Doug Gefvert, fills the spring air at 3 pm.
Longwood’s elegant ballroom plays host to a delicious Mother’s Day Brunch from 10 am – 5pm. Reservations are required. Prices are $49 for ages 12 and over ($37 for Passholders); $25 for ages 5-11 ($19 for Passholders) and free for ages 4 and under.
About Longwood Gardens
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Throughout his life, Mr. du Pont indulged his passion for gardening, turning his farm into a magnificent horticultural showplace. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great gardens, encompassing 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and a 4-acre conservatory. Longwood continues the mission set forth by Mr. du Pont to inspire people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the arts, through programming that includes exhibitions, musical performances by leading artists, renowned horticulture education programs, horticulture research, environmental stewardship and cultural and community engagement.
Longwood Gardens is located at 399 Longwood Road on Route 1 near Kennett Square, PA, just 30 miles west of Philadelphia. The outdoor gardens and Conservatory open daily at 9 am and close at 6 pm. The Terrace Restaurant is open daily for full- and self-service dining. The GardenShop is also open daily. Complete information is available online at www.longwoodgardens.org or by calling 610-388-1000.