Springtime Beauty This Winter at Longwood Gardens
New indoor “Living Wall” has more than 47,000 plants and encompasses a surface area of 3,590 square feet.
As the winter doldrums set in, one of my favorite wintertime activities always includes a trip to Longwood Gardens. As you drag your frozen body into the Main Conservatory, you can shed your winter gear and prepare for instant spring!
Your senses will come alive as you take in the beauty and scent of its 20 indoor gardens and 5,500 types of plants over 4.5 acres. A leisurely stroll through the display areas takes about 1½ hours and covers about one-half mile.
New to the East Conservatory Plaza is an extraordinary indoor "Living Wall," which is covered with more than 47,000 plants and encompasses a surface area of 3,590 square feet. It is the first terraced lawn in the United States created by renowned British landscape architect Kim Wilkie.
The East Conservatory Plaza is composed of five tiers of sweeping grass-covered terraces that emerge like steps from the landform. The plaza is surrounded by woodland plantings, including a more than 200-year-old English Yew.
The innovative design of the terraced lawn creates a sculptural clearing, allowing for dramatic views of the topiary and other gardens to the south, as well as of the East Conservatory façade.
Integrated into the landscape are red maple, sweet-gum, bald-cypress, eastern red-cedar, tulip-tree, as well as southern bush-honeysuckle, Japanese holly, Virginia sweetspire and other shrubs, all of which are intended to enhance and extend the plantings of the surrounding landscape.
A unique feature of the plaza is an unprecedented new concept of domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the landform. While examples of top-lit domes exist, particularly in Islamic architecture, underground domed cabinets such as these have never before been used for contemporary lavatories.
The innovative design of the 16 underground private and family lavatories takes advantage of earth insulation, an age-old concept that is highly energy efficient and joins other existing environmental practices at Longwood. A curving glass-roofed corridor spine running between the two rows of lavatory domes is surrounded by the massive green wall.