‘JUST IMAG­INE WA­TER DANC­ING’

Long­wood Gar­dens’ $90 mil­lion Main Foun­tain Gar­den will open in May

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Fran Maye fmaye@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ken­nettpa­per on Twit­ter

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

An artist’s ren­der­ing of what the Main Foun­tain Gar­den at Long­wood Gar­dens will look like when it is com­pleted in May.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

FRAN MAYE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

FRAN MAYE — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Paul Red­man, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Long­wood Gar­dens, says visi­tors will be im­pressed with the new Main Foun­tain Gar­den when it opens in May.

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