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Chrysanthemums and Fall Foliage at Longwood Gardens

Spend a full day at Longwood Gardens photographing fall flowers and landscapes!

Quick Details


Longwood Gardens, created by Pierre S. du Pont, is one of the premier arboretums in the country if not in the world. The Gardens encompass horticultural displays, walkways and meadows on 1,050 acres. It is located in Kennett Square, PA, about 30 minutes southwest of Philadelphia (about two hours from DC). Designed and built in the early 1900s as a private
residence, Longwood was transformed from “a private estate into an internationally recognized horticultural display” after du Pont’s death in 1954. In 1972, the Gardens were added to the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. And, worthy, it is!

In addition to cultivating spectacular outdoor gardens in the spring, summer and early fall, Longwood Gardens has several “flower shows” in their 4-acre conservatory throughout the year. In the fall, during the Chrysanthemum Festival, the Conservatory is filled with varieties of Chrysanthemums, which range from the size of a golf ball to the size of a softball. There are ones that look like the typical chrysanthemum we see at our local nurseries, to spider mums that have long, thin petals to incurve mums which are like pom-poms. The annual display of thousands of blooms is the largest and oldest of its kind in North America. Some of the Chrysanthemums are trained to grow in different formations such as a fan and a pagoda that preserve an ancient Asian art while showcasing innovative plant-growing techniques and displays.

a close up of a flower a close up of a flower

The color palette of the Chrysanthemums on display changes every year, so you might see shades of red, pink, lavender, white, yellow, bronze or green blooms. It is quite easy to spend the several hours just in the Conservatory photographing all the beautifully cultivated blooms!

Outdoors, by late October, the Flower Garden Walk is usually in the process of being planted with bulbs for the spring blooming season, but there is beautiful fall foliage to photograph, and the Idea Garden, where new plants are grown for a season before possibly being planted in the formal gardens, is still in full bloom. If we are lucky, the water lily ponds will still be open, too. After they close this year, the courtyard will be re-designed and won’t re-open until the new West Conservatory opens in 2024. The Main Fountains should also still have performances scheduled every hour throughout the day.

Fall Foliage a river running through a forest a close up of a flower garden
a close up of a flower a close up of a flower

All photos by Sherryl Belinsky

After a brief orientation, we will enter the gardens at 10, make the 10 minute walk to the Conservatory, and begin photographing Chrysanthemums in the Conservatory as that is when it is less crowded and Tripods can be used in the Conservatory before noon. (it is not mandatory to use a tripod, but it helps!) After lunch at The Café (full menu) or the Beer Garden (Pizza), we will spend the afternoon (weather permitting) outside, taking a walk down by the Large Lake and Pierce’s Woods and then to the Main Fountains and the Idea Garden, and finally, if there is time, to the Chimes Tower and Carillon.

What lenses do you need?

  • Macro- to get in close to those flowers growing along the walkways! If you don’t have a Macro lens, extension tubes will work, too.
  • Zoom – to capture the flowers (and details) in the backs of the flowerbeds, since it is a big no-no to step into any of those beds!
  • Wide Angle (prime or zoom) – for photographing the fall landscape
  • Specialty – Lensbabies – if you want to be more creative with your photography

Other equipment:

  • Tripod
  • Remote Release
  • Small lights/flash
  • Reflectors
  • Filters – Polarizing, Neutral Density
  • Small lights
  • Reflectors
  • Extra Storage Cards
  • Extra Battery

Make sure to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes! While we will finish the safari at 3:30, the gardens are open from 10am-9pm.

$240 Fee includes Admission Fee to Longwood and a full day of instruction. (Lunch is not included in the price – feel free to bring a bag lunch or purchase lunch at one of Longwood’s restaurants. Their food is really good!)