Orchids Take the Spotlight at Longwood Gardens
The annual orchid exhibit can be fun for kids. Here's how to manage it.
Longwood Gardens’ annual Orchid Extravaganza is open through March 25 and can make winter weather seem worlds away. Featuring more than 4,500 orchids in dozens of varieties throughout the 4-acre conservatory, the show’s bright colors and delicious aromas are sure to delight visitors of all ages.
Each year, Longwood Gardens’ designers create a completely new show that highlights orchids in exciting ways. Don’t miss a great photo opportunity under the yellow and white orchid archway at the show’s entrance. You’ll be dazzled by two huge, walk-around columns wrapped in hundreds of orchids, as well as ferns and asparagus grasses, in the Exhibition Hall. And look up! Huge orbs of orchids hang in several rooms, and cascades of orchids seem to “grow” in the air in the cactus room.
Here’s how to make a visit to the Orchid Extravaganza extra-special for your family:
Pack Supplies for Little Artists and Scientists
Arm kids who love art with a sketch book and some colored pencils and take time to stop and draw the flowers. Or, if you want to move through the exhibit more quickly, let them take photos of their favorite flowers to recreate when you get home. Little scientists can record the different orchids they see in a notebook, or may enjoy bringing a small magnifying glass with them to the show.
Start in the Orchid Room
Though it will be difficult to blow past the beautiful orchids on the way, a visit with kids will go best if you head to the Orchid Room first. There, you can pick up a special scavenger hunt bookmark that lists nine things for kids to search for throughout the conservatory, peruse orchid identification cards, and examine different parts of orchid plants at an interactive education cart staffed by garden volunteers.
Don’t Overlook Old Conservatory Favorites
Visit the Children’s Garden, a secluded area with interactive fountains, towers to climb, hidden waterfalls, flowers at kids’ eye level, a puppet theater, and, on most days, an activity such as flower dissection or a matching game offered by garden volunteers. Orchids are also planted throughout the Children’s Garden during the show.
Peek into the organ room during a concert (11:30, 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 on many days). Kids love to see the screen showing the keys as they are stroked, and to explore the Organ Museum behind the concert hall.
Take Time to Smell the Flowers
There are places to stop, rest, have a snack, and even read a story throughout the conservatory. Don’t miss the chance to relax and take in different views as you explore.
Visit on an Or-Kid Day
Kids are the focus on Or-Kid Days: Monday, February 19 (Presidents Day), and Saturday, March 17, from 11 am to 2 pm. Seven stations will be set up throughout the conservatory to engage kids even more with the flowers.
Kids can go on an orchid hunt, learn where orchids grow, discover how to grow orchids in Pennsylvania, play Orchid Memory Matching, or find patterns and symmetry in orchid flowers and leaves. The youngest guests can also enjoy felt board play and story time.
Check Out the Winter Blues Festival
For the last month of the Orchid Extravaganza, flowers in all shades of blue will steal the show, with music performances to go along with them! Check out a free blues performance among the flowers on a Saturday.
Orchid Extravaganza is open now through March 25, and is included with regular admission to Longwood Gardens. Longwood Gardens is at 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square. Tickets are $23 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $19 for children aged 5-12. Kids age 4 and under are free.
Photographs by Rachel Kramer.