The flowers of Longwood Gardens always put on a spectacular display on their own. Longwood also entices people with its intoxicating use of illumination -- especially with its highly popular annual Festival of Fountains (which opened Memorial Day Weekend and is running through Sept. 2).
This summer, Longwood Gardens is taking the combination of floral exhibits and illumination to a whole new level -- to a plateau higher than ever before. This weekend marks the debut of Light: Installations featuring the imaginative art of Bruce Munro, a noted artist and light designer from England.
Making its North American debut at Longwood Gardens this summer, the exhibition, which has a focus on low-energy output and sensitivity to the landscape, illuminates the gardens with large-scale, site-specific light installations.
Light: Installations features seven large-scale outdoor installations, two installations within Longwood’s grand four-acre Conservatory and a small collection of illuminated sculptures in Longwood’s historic Music Room.
One of the most ambitious installations is “Forest of Light” where guests can wander through a serene forest of 20,000 illuminated stems reminiscent of blooming flowers. Longwood’s Meadow is the site of the Water Towers, a collection of 69 symmetric towers which creates a glowing maze of light that changes colors to music.
Waterlilies in Bloom is Munro’s homage to Longwood’s famous waterlily platters in which he sets his shimmering interpretations to float on the Large Lake. Nearby, the 6,000-stem installation “Field of Light” creates a mesmerizing glow. The “Arrow Spring” installation mixes horticultural beauty and candles made from bees’ wax to create a hillside stream.
The Orangery, which is located inside the Conservatory, showcases six grand Snowball Chandeliers suspended from the towering ceiling -- each more than nine feet in diameter and formed by 127 perfectly uniform glass balls.
Light Shower presents more than 1,600 drops of twinkling lights over the flooded Fern Floor while the Music Room features a small collection of illuminated sculptures and models created by Munro.
Light: Installations by Bruce Munro is included in Gardens Admission. Timed Tickets are required for Gardens Admission.
Longwood Gardens is also holding several series of related special events. Light Nights, where kids and their parents can attend an outdoor concert, make an illuminating craft and enjoy other family-friendly activities, are slated for June 15, July 13, Aug. 10 and Sept. 14.
SmART Nights, which are scheduled for June 21, July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20, include educational lectures followed by a Story Slam. At the Culinary deLight Dinners on June 10 and Sept. 9, participants can enjoy a gourmet dinner with Light: Installations as the backdrop.
Longwood Gardens’ annual Festival of Fountains features illuminated musical fountain displays and live entertainment performances in addition to gardening demonstrations, plant walks, behind-the-scenes tours and children’s activities.
The Open Air Theatre features six-foot curtain of water that rises after the shows, along with daytime fountain displays. The Italian Water Garden has 18 blue-tiled pools, carved limestone statuary and more than 600 fountain jets that recirculate 5,000 gallons of water a minute in continually changing fountain displays.
The Main Fountain Garden features hundreds of fountains propelling as much as 10,000 gallons of water a minute as high as 130 feet. The fountains run continuously with special five-minute shows throughout the day.
Fireworks and Fountains feature special pyrotechnic displays set to music with three different themed shows. Five spectacular evenings of Fireworks and Fountains are scheduled this summer – July 3 and 21, Aug. 11 and Sept. 1 and 29.
What: Light: Installations and Festival of Fountains
When: Now through Sept. 2 for Festival of Fountains, through September 29 for Light: Installations
Where: Longwood Gardens, Route 1, Kennett Square
Tickets: Adults, $18; seniors (ages 62 and older), $15; students (ages 5-18), $8
Information: 610-388-1000 or www.longwoodgardens.org.