Saturday, December 08, 2007

Longwood - Service Area

As part of our Longwood Gardens tour, we visited the service area directly behind the Main Conservatory. (Yes, we went beyond the sign.) 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production greenhouses produce plants used in the exquisite displays.

Huge fans keep the greenhouses cool in summer. Cool air is pulled in from the wooded area behind the greenhouses through the tan, corrugated screen shown here behind the coleus. Miles of pipes, automatic temperature and water controls, gizmos and gadgets make it a gardener’s dream. According to Longwood’s publication, “Each greenhouse is equipped with its own computerized system that automatically controls temperature, bench and perimeter heat, snow melters, and devices for cooling and shading.”

“In the mid 1950s, Longwood began a breeding program to develop new cultivars. Today, outstanding cultivars are continually being selected and regularly introduced.” More than 100 cultvars have been introduced by Longwood Gardens Research Staff – everything from Acer platanoides ‘Stand Fast’ to Wisteria frutescens ‘Longwood Purple’.

The huge greenhouses were almost pristine inside. Believe me, there was no soil or plant litter on the floor.

The greenhouses also serve as a holding area for replacement plants for the display gardens. Tables were filled with red, pink, salmon poinsettias, bright red and white cyclamen, dusty miller.

As we walked through, an intern from Ohio expertly transplanted snapdragon seedlings Antirrhinum majus ‘Appleblossom’. (Picture in bloom ) They should make a beautiful display.

A long row of Velvet Groundsel - Roldana petasitis lined one of the service halls. It is considered a “pest plant” in New Zealand. (Here is a picture in bloom )

It would be fun to return to Longwood in another season to look for the plants we saw in the greenhouses.

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