Flamboyant flower borders and containers at Longwood Gardens Leave a comment

October 05, 2023

Longwood Gardens is a showplace of plants designed to wow, and wow it did during the Philadelphia Area Fling tour in late September. Today I’ll show the most crowded — and likely most popular — part of the garden, the Flower Garden Walk and Compartment Gardens.

As you enter Longwood, a broad path to the right leads you into a long border of tropical color set against emerald arborvitae hedges.

Eucalyptus and red caladiums repeat along the path.

Potted bromeliads appear too.

Bromeliad in bloom

Along a series of red-brick arches, a trailing vine with hot-pink flowers makes a pretty color echo.

And then I was in the Flower Garden Walk proper, along with throngs of late-afternoon oohers and aahers.

It was a glorious pink show, with drooping amaranthus…

…salvia, gomphrena, begonia, and many, many more flowering annuals, perennials, grasses, and shrubs.




These borders were amazingly lush and beautifully tended, and they wowed. But I confess that English-style borders along a long, straight path aren’t my favorite type of garden. I delight more in mystery and discovery.

Still, let’s soak up this extravaganza of color!

I like this combo: bachelor’s button (gomphrena) and Persian shield. Both of these annuals grow well in Austin’s hotter, drier climate (with supplemental water). However, Persian shield needs shade here, so I’m doubtful if this combo would work for us. In warm winters like we used to have, Persian shield can even overwinter in a protected spot.

In the middle of the Flower Garden Walk, a round pool and fountain draws your attention, as a perpendicular path crosses through.

The pinks go softer here, more peach.

A pretty combo of canna, dahlia, and salvia

The crossing path leads down to a square pool and fountain backed by layered hedges. Fluffy papyrus makes a green veil around the fountain.

In a curved niche under the stairs, there’s another papyrus vignette, with a dripping fountain and weathered pot.

How freaking adorable is this little guy? I think it’s a dragon spigot!

Chartreuse and brick-red create strong contrast at the square fountain.

The Compartment Gardens are revealed along this path, each separately hedged and hidden by clipped arborvitae. I like this sense of discovery.

This is the Peony Garden, but in late September it was mostly green with diaphanous grasses adding interest.

A large sundial anchors the center. Notice too the enormous bald cypresses lining the back hedge.

A peek down a short-cut to the entry walk with eucalyptus and caladiums

I came across a small plaza with this floral showpiece — shazam! A cluster of oxblood pots reads as one mass planting of tropical texture and color. I love this.

A beautiful combo of color and texture and shape

Look how the purple veins of this leaf are echoed by the purple foliage around it.

As the sun was dipping low, I found this Mediterranean-style garden, with low walls enclosing beds of dry-loving plants.

This space speaks to me as a hot-climate gardener, although many Mediterranean plants do not thrive in Austin’s sauna-like summer, with nights that stay warm. I’ll enjoy them here!

Sempervivum pots — love!

Dry-loving container plants look great pushed together for a massed effect.

I like this potted pine with dune grass and other perennials too.

Gorgeous! I wish the deer didn’t eat my dune grass at home because I am crazy about how it fluffs out a container of dry-loving plants.

Up next: A fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the plant production facility at Longwood. For a look back at a stroll through Longwood’s golden Meadow Garden, click here.

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All material © 2023 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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