The long gray months of winter make most of us eager for spring, so here's your chance to have a preview and give your spirits a boost. "Welcome Spring," the midwinter display of colorful spring blooms and lush landscapes, has opened at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa. The display continues through April 30.
Filled with thousands of spring flowers, the conservatory gardens present an ever-changing scene as daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs burst into bloom. In January and February acacia plants enhance the gardens with a sea of golden blossoms, and in March hundreds of cymbidium orchids will edge the garden's indoor pools. By the end of March the fragrant lily will grace the conservatory in time for Easter. A total of 20 heated gardens exhibit exotic plants from around the globe, and visitors can enjoy the Rose House, with hundreds of fragrant blooms, and the Silver Garden, featuring plants with silver, white and gray foliage.
One attraction this year is the Plant Hunt. It is designed for ages 3 to 10, but anyone can join. Participants are given a map, which leads them through the conservatories in search of eight specific plants: rose, cactus, acacia, tree fern, orchid, palm, tulip and a topiary rabbit. At each location a rubber stamp of a different color validates their find. The plant hunt runs through March 23.
Another offering are the six Fabulous Fun Days for Children, featuring a variety of scheduled entertainment. A "Kool Kids" series for ages 6 to 10 kicked off last Saturday with a marionette production of "Hansel and Gretel." The second in the series is "Music in My Pockets" by Jeff Warner and Jeff Davis on Saturday. These two traditional folklorists will offer a program of songs, stories and humor from rural America while performing on guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, dulcimer, bones, spoons and jew's-harp. "For the Fun of It," scheduled Feb. 23, features keyboard fun with duo-pianists Barbara and Gerhardt Suhrstedt. The final performance in the series is "A Is For Anything," by Charlie Gilbert and The Music Theatre Project. The performances are held in Longwood's Ballroom at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets cost $6 for children; $11 for adults or by mail, $5 for children and $10 for adults.
Two more programs are planned for younger children, ages 3 to 5. "Kindercize" on Feb. 9 is a program of rhythms, chants, songs and dances by John Taylor. On March 9, "Puppet Stew," by Pam's Pipes and Puppets, combines hand puppet plays with storytelling, music and audience participation. These half-hour performances also take place in the Ballroom and are held at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. Admission is $10, a combination ticket for one adult and one child.
On each of these Saturday Fun Days, during the plant hunt, children are invited to the Potting Shed, where they are assisted in a "pot-a-plant" project to take home. Youngsters can also enjoy the indoor Children's Garden which opened last year and features fountains, humorous topiary and an ivy-walled maze.
Another attraction at the gardens are the Sunday concerts at 2:30 p.m. Most of the concerts are performed on Longwood's pipe organ but others include violinist Juliette Kang today; duo-pianists Barbara and Gerhardt Suhrstedt on Feb. 24; pianist R. Clipper Erickson, March 17; and the Mendelssohn String Quartet, April 7. A concert by the Cheshire County Youth Choir from England is scheduled April 11 at 11 a.m. Concerts are included in the regular price of admission to the garden, but reservations are required for some. Call (215) 388-6741, Ext. 452.
One more Longwood Gardens date to keep in mind is the Northeast Regional Daffodil Show on April 26 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and April 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The outdoor gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the conservatories from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $2 for children ages 6 to 14, free for children under 6.
Longwood Gardens is on U.S. 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square. For general information, call (215) 388-6741.
A highlight of the winter season in Williamsburg, Va., is the third annual Williamsburg Antiques Forum, Feb. 3-8.
"New Looks at the Arts of 18th Century America," the topic of this year's event, explores important new discoveries in Anglo-American decorative arts of that era. The forum features daily lectures by distinguished scholars and experts, workshops furniture, textiles and metals, video presentations and tours of historic buildings and gardens.