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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Look Behind the Scenes at Longwood Gardens--Part 2

Saturday July 12th was the second installment of TLC's members-only program How Things Work: Longwood Gardens. Last time, the group took a tour of Longwood's solar field and composting fields, to get a look at their sustainability efforts. This time, we took a tour of the library and historic archives, for a better understanding of the legacy of Longwood.

A brief pause to check out the waterlily display

A unique book with wood-cut illustrations
The group was led by Maureen McCadden, Longwood's Digital Resource Specialist, and Judy Stevenson, Archivist. We were led through the Conservatory, stopping to take a look at the beautiful waterlily display currently in bloom. In the library, we got to look through an extensive collection of historic and rare books on horticulture and botany, some of which came from Pierre S. du Pont's own private collection. We had the chance to look through the same books that most likely inspired the design of the gardens when Mr. du Pont first began cultivating them in the early 1900s.

Part of Longwood's network of underground tunnels
After checking out the library, which many students use each day, we moved on to Longwood's archives. On the way, we passed part of the network of tunnels that run underneath the gardens, designed by Mr. du Pont for more effective maintenance and watering. Once in the archives, we got a look at some of the hundreds of thousands of images in Longwood's possession, which are currently being added to a digital database. We even got to travel through the vault, which houses rare books from Mr. du Pont's collection, blueprints, property maps, recordings, and over 300,000 slides.

TLC's tour highlighted Longwood's immense value as a historic and educational resource, as well as the innovative methods used to manage their unique and expansive collections. After the tour, participants took advantage of the beautiful weather to explore the gardens, now with a new perspective and appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes.

If you missed Part 2 of How Things Work: Longwood Gardens, don't fear! There is still time to become a member and register for Part 3, which will explore the new Meadow Garden. The final installment will take place on September 6th from 2pm-4pm, and we hope to see you there. Click here to register!

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