Take a short respite from cold, wintry weather and "Welcome Spring," the mid-winter display of colorful spring blooms and lush landscapes on view at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., now through Apr. 30.
Over the next three months, some 45,000 bulbs will burst into bloom. Daffodils, hyacinths, muscari, scillas, tulips and lilies will produce a kaleidoscope of changing patterns and colors. Now through February you will find a profusion of golden acacia blossoms, and by late March hundreds of cymbidium orchids in pastel hues will be in bloom. Then in mid-April the elegant Easter lily will permeate the conservatory with its heady scent. You will discover exotic plants from around the world as you walk through the 20 heated gardens of the conservatory. Pay a visit to the Rose House with its hundreds of delicate blooms or to the Silver Garden filled with silver, white and gray foliage.
Children receive special attention during the mid-winter exhibit. The main attraction is the six "Fabulous Fun Days for Children" on selected Saturdays in February and March. The Wiggle Club offers half-hour performances at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon for preschoolers, ages 3 to 5. "Three Bears" will be performed by the Tuckers' Tales Puppet Theatre Feb. 1. The next event is "Sing Along, Dance Along, Play Along," a half-hour of singing, dancing and playing simple rhythm instruments by the early childhood staff of the Wilmington Music School Feb. 22. "Let's Get Loose With Mother Goose," a program of storytelling, singing and rhythms, takes place March 21.
Another series entitled "Kool Kids" offers performances for ages 6 to 10. "Circuitry Circus" Feb. 8 explores the facets of the personal computer from a tiny microchip to an elephant robot on roller skates. "The Kid Power Concert Tour" is a pop concert of original songs for children March 7, and the final offering is "Music and the Underground Railroad," a multimedia presentation of songs, stories and narratives about slavery and the quest for freedom March 14.
The Saturday programs also offer other activities, such as a conservatory plant hunt, in which children are sent off to search for various plant specimens. Children can also pot a plant to take home with the aid of staff members each Saturday between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. There is also a children's garden filled with a fountains, topiary rabbits, a plant maze and stone cottage, where children can play. A children's buffet is available in Longwood's Terrace Restaurant. Advance ticket reservations are required for all performances. The Kool Kids series costs $27 for adults and $14 for ages 6 to 10 with single performances priced from $5 to $11. A combination ticket for one adult and one child for all three Wiggle Club events is $27, or $10 for an individual performance. The Saturday tickets include garden admission. Call (215) 388-6741, Ext. 452.
Sunday organ concerts are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. in the Longwood ballroom today and Feb. 2, 9 and 23. The Phil Giordano Jazz Quintet will perform Feb. 16. The organ concert series continues March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. Reservations are required for the concert Apr. 5 by Gerald Ranck and William Zito on harpsichord and lute-guitar. Easter organ concerts are scheduled April 12, 18 and 19. The Cheshire County Youth Orchestra will come from England to perform April 23, and the final concert is an organ piano duo on April 26.
The gardens are open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults; $2 for ages 6 to 14; free for under six. Longwood is on U.S. Route 1, three miles northeast of Kennett Square. For information, call (215) 388-6741.
The Hagley Museum and Library will present two programs about "Winter Life at the Hagley." The museum is on the grounds of the old du Pont mills and estate in Wilmington.
Today visitors will learn about 19th century school days. The program will be held in the 1817 Sunday school, a building that was used for schooling the mill children. Since most of the children worked in the mills, school was held on Sundays. Interpreters will talk about life in those days, and visitors can try their skill at using a quill pen, cipher on a slate board with slate pencils and read from a period text book.
"19th Century Home Life" will be presented Feb. 15. There will be a visit to the Gibbons House, home of the foreman of the powder yard during the mid-19th century. Interpreters will demonstrate cookie baking and making popcorn on the wood-burning stove, while upstairs 19th century songs will be performed on the organ in the parlor.
Both programs will run from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Admission, which includes admission to the entire 230-acre museum complex, is $9.74 for adults; $7.50 for seniors and students; $3.50 for ages 6 to 14; free for children under six.
The museum entrance is on Route 141 in Wilmington. For information, call (302) 658-2400, weekdays.