‘JUST IMAGINE WATER DANCING’
Longwood Gardens’ $90 million Main Fountain Garden will open in May
EAST MARLBOROUGH >> After $90 million and two years of construction, the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens will open sometime in May, and officials are saying it’s something you won’t want to miss.
“We’re in the home stretch now,” said Paul Redman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens. “It’s starting to look like a complete garden. The old fountain garden was beautiful and lovely, but what you will see when we are done will just blow your mind. With the new color palette, we will have millions of colors of lights. Just imagine water dancing.”
Redman said there will be nothing like the new Main Fountain Garden in the world.
The project, which involved no public funding, includes enhanced landscape, enhanced horticultural displays, and expanded, fully accessible walking areas. Energy-efficient LED lights will al-
“I am really excited about this. I can promise you we will have some really big parties.” — Paul Redman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens
low for the water choreography of millions of colors. In addition, the south wall, closed to the public for the last 20 years, will be reopened and will contain 20 wall-mountain fountains. There will be new seating areas along the fountains as well as tables and chairs behind the trellis bridge. And a renovated Pump House Lobby will showcase the original pumps that powered the Main Fountain Garden from 1931 to 2014.
During construction at the 5-acre site, workers removed more than 4,900 individual pieces of limestone that came from Italy, conserved them and they will be returned to the Main Fountain Garden.
From now until May, electrical, plumbing and mechanical issues pertaining to the fountains will be put to the test. Redman said fountain choreographers are designing the shows that will be presented next year.
“I am really excited about this,” Redman said. “I can promise you we will have some really big parties.”
When completed, the Main Fountain Garden will be the hit attraction at Longwood Gardens, which attracted 1.34 million guests last year, breaking an attendance record. The popular Nightscape display will not return because Redman said he wants to keep the focus on the Main Water Fountain for at least the next three years. However, he said some of Nightscape’s technology will be used in other areas of the gardens.
And Redman said a short-term goal at the 1,077acre site is to improve the visitors’ entrance.
“When it was designed, there was no admission fee here,” Redman said. “It was
When completed, the Main Fountain Garden will be the hit attraction at Longwood Gardens, which attracted 1.34 million guests last year, breaking an attendance record.
just a pass through. It was never designed to be a ticketing and gateway threshold for the garden. But with attendance growing like it is, we really need to do something, and the clock is ticking.”
The Visitors’ Center opened in 1972 and there was no admission fee from 1955 to 1973.
Admission to Longwood Gardens is $23 for adults, $20 for seniors and students and $12 for those ages 5 to 18. The fees cover about 56 percent of operating costs. Even still, so many people visit, especially during the upcoming holiday season, Redman said only a limited number can be admitted to keep the great customer experience. “We are limiting the capacity and number of people coming through our gates at any given time during the year,” Redman said.
The paved, lighted parking area on the south side of Route 1 will be completed by Thanksgiving, Redman said. Free shuttle service will take guests directly to the entrance.
And the popular fireworks display, discontinued because of the construction, will resume this year with six shows.
Longwood Gardens, which has more than 700 full- and part-time employees and more than 700 volunteers, is pioneering in providing horticulture and plant science programs to Title 1 schools. Last year it provided $25,000 in grant money to pay for buses to bring students to the site, and it waived admission fees to those students.
And it is involved in a national program called “Seed Your Future,” which is designed to bring exposure to horticulture and careers in horticulture to young students.
“Plant science and horticulture programs in our schools are being eliminated or consolidated into other programs,” Redman said. “The big obstacle is there is just a gross misunderstanding of just what horticulture is. Longwood Gardens is playing a significant role on a national level.”
And Longwood Gardens now has a TV studio that helps to bring the garden to classrooms. Last year, experts at Longwood Garden delivered free, online, live, fully interactive classes on plant science to 12,000 children, mostly in rural school districts.
“Hopefully, we will influence the next generation of horticulture and public garden leaders,” Redman said.
Longwood Gardens features an expansive arboretum where trees and shrubs are cultivated, collections of rare plants from around the world, a greenhouse complex, horticulture displays, a water lily display, fountains, an open-air theatre for performing arts, a meadow garden and forest lands, wildlife habitats, walking trials and a picnic area. It also has educational and research facilities.
Today, Longwood Gardens is funded by the general admission and membership fees, an endowment from Pierre du Pont, and funds from the Longwood’s Terrace Restaurant and Garden Shop.
An artist’s rendering of what the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens will look like when it is completed in May.
An aerial view of the $90 million Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens. Workers are finishing up construction and it is expected to open in May.
A crane pictured in the background helps to lift stone into place during construction of Longwood Gardens’ $90 million Main Fountain Garden that will open in May.
Paul Redman, executive director of Longwood Gardens, says visitors will be impressed with the new Main Fountain Garden when it opens in May.