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An Afternoon with Laurence Arene
By Allison Hess
Last month I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Laurence Arene, a breeder from Meilland International. Laurence was visiting Pennsylvania to tour our rose fields. On the last day of her trip, she had several free hours before her departing flight. What better way to pass the time then with a trip to the enchanting Longwood Gardens? A longtime fan of the well-known arboretum, I was thrilled to be asked to show her around the gardens. Now if you’ve ever been to Longwood Gardens then you know that it’s quite possible to spend all day there and still not cover the entire grounds. The Conservatory alone houses 20 unique gardens, including a personal favorite of mine – the Waterlily Display.
With not a minute to waste, I was determined to show her all of the major highlights. Map in hand, we began our tour with the indoor gardens. Laurence was drawn to the vivid colors and interspersed waterfalls, fountains and pools that make up the East Conservatory. Once outside, Longwood stretches out across 1,000 acres of gardens and woodlands. Strolling through the grounds, Laurence shared with me her great appreciation for nature and sense of peace she feels walking through a garden. It was a sentiment I could relate to completely.
Our garden tour would not have been complete without a stop at Terrain, an independent garden center in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania – a mere 15 minutes from Longwood Gardens. On that gorgeous September afternoon we opted to sit outside for lunch. After our meal together, we browsed through the shop. Looking around at the diverse container gardens and whimsical displays, Laurence paused to ask me if all garden centers here were like this or if Terrain was special. I let her know that Terrain was indeed very special. Of the countless times I’d been there before, each visit was still a unique and memorable experience. That day was no exception. It was the perfect way to end an afternoon spent with such a captivating member of the horticultural community.