A popular engagement session destination in the heart of the Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens is a stunningly beautiful and endlessly inspiring location to capture such an important milestone in your relationship. Consider this post your ultimate Longwood Gardens engagement session guide. I’ll provide you with all the essential information you need to plan your engagement photo session at Longwood Gardens, from hours of operation to seasonal blooms and the best photo backdrops in each garden section.
Longwood Gardens Hours of Operation
After reserving your wedding date with me, the first thing we start to plan is your engagement session! The gardens are open year-round from Wednesday to Monday, with only a few exceptions. Here are the general hours:
- Spring/Summer (April – September): 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Fall (October – November): 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
- Winter (December – March): 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
A Longwood Christmas runs from mid-November through the first week of January and is open daily from 10:00 am–11:00 pm during this time.
I’ll be honest, there’s really no bad time of year to visit. It’s always a good idea to check the weekly hours on the Longwood Gardens website or contact them directly to ask about special events that might affect access.
Seasonal Blooms at Longwood Gardens
One of the most enchanting aspects of Longwood Gardens is the ever-changing display of seasonal blooms. There are five distinct seasons Longwood Gardens promotes each year: Winter Wonder, Spring Blooms, Festival of Fountains, Chrysanthemum Festival, and A Longwood Christmas. Each season offers a different floral color palette for your photos:
Spring Blooms season runs from March 30–May 5
This season boasts vibrant daffodils, magnolias, tulips, cherry blossoms, and wisteria in full bloom. In late April, the Open Air Theatre comes alive with fountains set to music. The Idea Garden is a fantastic spot for capturing these colors, and the iconic Flower Garden Walk is a must for classic garden shots in late April through the month of May.
Summer Festival of Fountains season runs from May 9–September 29
The summer season at Longwood brings the Festival of Fountains, AKA one of my favorite times to shoot engagement sessions. You’ll have your pick of stunning roses and water lilies as backdrops during the summer months. The Orchid House and Rose Arbor are all excellent locations for romantic and colorful photos. The main conservatory will be bursting with summer colors at this time!
Fall Chrysanthemum Festival season runs from September 30–November 12
The autumn foliage at Longwood Gardens is truly unmatched. Visitors look forward to the iconic Chrysanthemum Festival, where horticulturists and gardeners create literal artwork out of cascading florals and engineered installations. The Italian Water Garden and the Peirce-du Pont House are stunning areas with bubbling fountains and vibrant foliage.
A Longwood Christmas season runs from November 17—January 7
Winter Wonder season runs from January 20–March 24
During the winter season, Longwood Gardens transforms into a magical wonderland with thousands of lights and decorated trees. Cinnamon Wattle clothes the conservatory in a luscious curtain of green while beloved blue-poppies climb overhead. The Orangery and Exhibition Hall are ideal indoor spots for cozy and festive engagement photos. This is probably one of the busiest times of the year to visit Longwood Gardens, so plan accordingly!
Best Photo Backdrops
Now, let’s explore some of the different parts of Longwood Gardens and the best photo backdrops they offer:
1. Main Fountain Garden:
The Main Fountain Garden is a central attraction with impressive water features and beautifully landscaped surroundings. It’s perfect for timeless and elegant engagement photos.
2. Italian Water Garden:
This area exudes a romantic ambiance with its classical architecture and serene water features. The stone walkways and statuary is one of my favorite places to take couples during their engagement session.
3. Chimes Tower & waterfall:
The Chimes Tower District features a historic, ivy-covered stone bell tower next to a stunning 50-foot waterfall. Within sight of the Main Fountain Garden, this area of sweeping lawns and manicured hillsides is like a scenic vista from an Italian villa.
4. The Conservatory:
From the Green Wall to the Acacia Passage to the Cascade Garden, this 19th century glasshouse is filled with dazzling displays of flowers and foliage from across the globe. Some of the plants within this four acre span of indoor greenhouses are over 100 years old. You won’t find a more perfectly curated setting for your engagement photos.
5. Orchid House:
The Orchid House is a tropical paradise that’s ideal for capturing your steamy love in a lush, exotic, and intimate setting.
6. Topiary Garden:
The intricate topiaries in this garden are a work of art. They make for creative and visually stunning engagement photos.
Planning Your Visit to Longwood Gardens
If you’ve never been to Longwood Gardens, keep in mind that the property is massive. Nearly 200 acres are open to the public, most of which are outdoors. I highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes or at least bringing a pair to change into as we walk between sections.
As far as entry to the park goes, I’m a Longwood Gardens member, so luckily we all get in for free!
Booking Your Longwood Gardens Engagement Session
Each of my wedding photography packages, be it 8, 9, or 10 hours of coverage, includes an engagement session! As soon as you lock in your wedding date with me, I’ll send over my tips and tricks guide, which includes vendor recommendations, general wedding tips, and what to wear for your engagement session. After shooting dozens of engagement sessions at Longwood Gardens, I have more than a few golden nuggets of advice up my sleeve.
Longwood Gardens is a paradise for engagement photography, with no end of photo backdrops among seasonal blooms and diverse garden sections. Whether you’re immediately drawn to the elegance of the Italian Water Garden, the old world feel of The Conservatory or the enchantment of the Main Fountain Garden, this venue has something for every couple’s style and vision. I would love to frolic through the gardens with you and your SO as you celebrate your engagement this year! Fill out my inquiry form here, and let’s start planning the magic!