Do you recognize this gorgeous light? I think I shared a different view of it last year after Miss Rosie and I visited LONGWOOD GARDENS in Pennsylvania, and after our most recent visit I am still in love with it. We’ll see more of it below, but first a recap of my life the last three months.
December started out wonderfully, with a visit to NYC to see Emily from The French Hutch and her hubby. It was an icy, cold, slippery, slushy day, but our dinner was delicious and we had the most delightful evening, talking and laughing non-stop. I know I have said this before but I will be forever grateful for the friendships which have grown and blossomed in our tote group.
Mr. Fun “retired” on December 31 and that lasted all of TEN days, until he couldn’t resist an offer to work on a “project” with another banking firm in the city, which is supposedly “short term” so check back with me in a few months to see if we are really retired and in full move mode.
During those ten days I did manage to pack him and Miss Rosie into the car and take a trip to Longwood Gardens, about three hours away.
While that is the same distance from us as is Boston, since it is in the other direction we need to cross the Hudson River to get there which makes it seem much farther away, and going through or around NYC is always an issue. The Hudson is the barrier between New England and the rest of the country, stretching all the way from the Canadian border to New York harbor. Our usual choices to cross are The George Washington Bridge, lovingly referred to as The George here, or the Tappan Zee Bridge, a bit north of the city near the area made famous by the Hudson River school of painters, Washington Irving, Rip van Winkle and the headless horseman. The old bridge was due to be replaced long ago, and after years of wrangling the new one is finally rising and it’s in the new style of suspension bridges. (The old one will be dismantled.) We chose the Tappan Zee route this time and crossed the new bridge for the first time. Miss Rosie shares my fascination with bridges and wanted to pose. You will be happy to know that I was not driving.
We’ve had some bitterly cold days this winter, and our visit day was one of those. The cold air made it difficult to take photos outside but Mr. Fun wanted to see the trains so we sprinted to the area where a garden railroad display had been created complete with models of the Longwood buildings crafted from all natural materials, much like the New York Botanical Gardens holiday train show. Here is Thomas the Tank Engine for the little boys, but there were plenty of big boy trains too and Mr. Fun was very happy.
We popped into the Conservatory to warm up, and I was immediately spellbound by the displays.
The few times that I’ve been here I have found it to be very difficult to get the lighting correct in my photos, and I am hopeful that one of our blogging garden/photography/creative experts (I’m looking at you Ms. M.M.!!) will visit, take pictures of everything, and share! If any of you have posted photos of Longwood please let us all know and also please disclose your exposure secrets to me!
The huge hanging baskets of poinsettia change with the seasons. I last saw them filled with hydrangea, and now I think they are filled with orchids! Many different tours are available on such diverse topics as how the planters are filled to the history of the building.
The center water garden is always a highlight of the seasonal displays, and this year the gardeners created a French Parterre style garden.
All the materials are natural and float on an elaborate frame system, all built on site.
The fleur-de-lis shape in the frame above was filled with floating apples and cranberries.
Apples and gilded walnuts filled other “beds” near a fountain. The ceiling of the greenhouse is reflected in the pool.
The fruit is donated to local farms for animal feed and the plants are composted. This photo will give you a clearer idea of the massive size of this impressive creation.
There are several other rooms in the Conservatory, and one of my favorite paths winds through flowering plants, including these lilies, and I had to stop and inhale for a long time. I wish we had scratch ‘n sniff capability … Siri, get on that please. My hand span did not begin to measure these blossoms, so they were well over 8″ across. (a variety of Stargazer lilies)
This same winding path is lit by one of my favorite lights ever, the one at the top of my post. See it hanging there, almost directly over the lilies?
That was an attempt to capture the scene with my iPhone, but I am several models behind and it seems to have stopped focusing. I’m determined to get a better shot the next time!
Even my big girl Nikon gives me difficulty here, but I’m on a mission to capture this light with my camera. Maybe next visit! When you go, be sure to tear your eyes away from the plants to look up at the lighting.
After a visit to the ballroom and the organ we returned to the parterre garden area because I knew there was a secret room at one end and I had no idea what to expect there. But first I was shocked to see the beauty of the parterre lit up, perhaps even more breathtaking than it was in daylight.
I could see the lights in the secret room beckoning and I wondered what they were! You can see them at the very far end of the garden, above the fountain and below the clock.
This is what I found there.
At the far left of the photo is the opening to the parterre garden. The chairs, table, gifts, centerpieces, candelabra — I was taking it all in and making mental notes for the future. Mr. Fun was very patient while I carefully examined and photographed every little detail as well as possible in the lighting conditions! Notice that the candles are all battery operated for safety.
The table was set for twelve. Wouldn’t it be fun to dress up and dine here with your blogging friends?
The table top was mirrored and helped light the room by reflecting the candlelight. I realized how important were the reflective surfaces of the centerpieces, flatware, crystal and even the edges of the dishes in the days when candlelight was the only method of lighting the dining room.
But where are the napkins? I was so curious to see what napkin folds and rings would be used. Then I noticed:
Very clever for saving room on the table! Would you do this at a dinner party? I am sure I have never seen it before. But I like it and of course this leaves space for a little gift on each plate. I was so intrigued with this idea that I did use it for a dinner party instead of Christmas crackers!
I don’t know quite why I am a little obsessed with Longwood Gardens, but I think it may be the variety of unexpected surprises I find when I visit. I haven’t even begun to cover the rooms, entertainment, plantings and outdoor structures to be found there! Now all this decor has been removed and the Orchid Show is on, soon to be replaced with the tulips display which I saw last year (see my garden post HERE). If you have a chance to go l recommend trying to be there on a weekday as the gardens are very popular. Admission is timed during the most popular events, but if you have a membership you can enter at your convenience. I think the website suggests planning 2-3 hours for your visit but you must trust me when I say that is ridiculous. Plan a nice long day, eat lunch or dinner there, and be sure to see the fountains when they open in the Spring!
I hope you have been inspired by this beautiful place! For more Tales of the Traveling Totes please visit my fellow toters (welcome new members — we are now 12 in all!!)
and be sure to visit Jenna for a chance at this giveaway!
Miss Rosie and I will see you soon again. We have travels planned but my mom (often one of my traveling companions) has broken her foot and Miss Rosie has been busy carrying entertainment, love and patience, so we will see. She is doing better now than she was last month so all is hopeful for a full recovery and she does love the traveling tote stories!
If you do go to Longwood, see if you can find this handsome fellow and tell me where you spied him! 🙂
And these are about to bloom!
(both photos taken last Spring at Longwood)
I hope you have enjoyed this post of friends and flowers and tables and travel — a few of my favorite things.
Linda (and Miss Rosie) 🙂
please be sure to visit my fellow toters
and the tables at Tablescape Thursday