The posting of January 25, 2011, describes how Longwood Gardens management was surprised by the popularity of a field of sunflowers grown on adjoining land owned by them, but leased to a farmer who usually grew corn. In 2010, the farmer had a buyer for sunflower seeds, and they gave him permission to grow the flowers.
Once in bloom, the fields were spectacular. Word spread and people flocked there, but Longwood was not prepared for the crowds. It was outside of Longwood’s public grounds, and people simply pulled off the little country road and parked on the muddy grass. It became somewhat dangerous and chaotic, and by the next year the field was back to corn.
But Longwood certainly noticed, and this year they have a similar field of sunflowers along Route 1, Baltimore Pike, northeast of the entrance. Three houses had been there dating from the 1920s that Pierre du Pont built for the Garden staff. They were magnificent houses but had been empty and unused for many years. They were expensive to maintain, too expensive to move, and separated from the main public gardens. Longwood’s director wanted to enhance the approach to the Gardens by demolishing the houses and replacing them with trees, but Kennett Square balked at granting the necessary permits. The director pointed out that usually organizations want to cut down trees to build houses, but he wanted to take down houses to plant trees. He had a point.
Apparently, the permissions came through because the houses were suddenly gone. I suspect the sunflowers are just a quick, temporary replacement until they can get the land properly landscaped with trees. The sunflowers are so spectacular they are a hazardous distraction for the passing traffic, and people are parking on the shoulder of Route 1 for a close-up view. So, if you want to see them, come soon. I doubt they will be there again next year.
(The photo of the field from 2010 is all I had, but the new field looks pretty much the same.)