American Society of Landscape Architects

  2004 ASLA Professional Awards

Design Award of Merit

Peirce's Woods at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA
W. Gary Smith, ASLA, Austin, TX
Client: Longwood Gardens, Inc.

Effective creation of garden room with seasonal emphasis. . . The planting plan by seasons is terrific. . . A beautiful landscape.
           2004 Professional Awards Jury Comments

Longwood Gardens has long been known for its glass conservatories, fountains, and formal displays of exotic flowers from around the world. Longwood's newest destination, Peirce's Woods, reveals the more subtle beauty of plants native to the woodlands of the eastern United States. Encompassing seven acres of existing mature woodlands, Peirce's Woods was conceived by Longwood as an "art-form garden." Consistent with Longwood's mission, "the art of horticultural display," their goal was to attract visitors' attention to native plants because of their beauty, rather than to promote the use of natives as part of an ecological crusade.


Peirce's Woods Preliminary Design Concept, 1994. The design was conceived as a journey through woodland "rooms," each destination offering a distinct sensory immersion among plants native to eastern North America. (Drawing: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)

Design Study for Revision to Existing Asphalt Service Road, 1995. Changes to existing pathways and service roads were made to create a feeling of seclusion and serenity. (Drawing: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)

Seasonality Study for the South Woods Edge, 1995. A panel such as this was created for each destination in Peirce's Woods, showing the richness of seasonal change that was programmed into the planting design. (Drawing: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)

The Waterfalls and Austrinum Walk, 2001, acrylic on paper, each panel 18" x 28". Paintings were produced early in the design process as part of exercises in "abstracting the woods," as well as for recording basic design principles in the Design Intent manual (as were these examples). (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Peirce's Woods Entry Plaza. A pleached hedge of native hornbeam provides an architectonic transition from the formal plantings outside of Peirce's Woods, to the naturalistic plantings inside. Pennsylvania fieldstone was quarried less than ten miles from the site. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
The Waterfalls. In a huge tree-canopied space, enclosed by banks of evergreen rhododendrons, 30,000 Tiarella cordifolia (Allegheny foamflower) were planted to cascade down a slope. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Austrinum Walk. Full-size Rhododendron austriums were collected in the Longwood nursery, where the landscape architect observed them over two successive flowering seasons before arranging 130 of them in the woods, in a gradation from pale yellow to deep orange, highlighting this native azalea's natural variation in flower color. These visitors are walking through clouds of fragrance, in mid-May. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Austrinum Walk. In late June, the azaleas form a green backdrop to the dramatic spires of Cimicifuga racemosa, or fairy candles. Seasonal change was carefully choreographed throughout Peirce's Woods. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Cathedral Clearing. This photo is from the cover of The American Woodland Garden, illustrating the primary design motif of horizontal sweeps of ground covers layered against the strong verticals of trees. (Photo: Rick Darke)
Cathedral Clearing. Tiarella cordifolia (Allegheny foamflower) and Pachysandra procumbens (Allegheny spurge) often grow together in the wild. Here, the curving edge between mono-specific masses draws your eye to the "Sentinel Oak" in the center of the Cathedral Clearing. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Cathedral Clearing. Standing next to the "Sentinel Oak," visitors pose in front of the intense fall red of Oxydendrum arboreum (sourwood), beside the yellow of Acer saccharum (sugar maple). (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Vaseyi Glen. After the pink-flowering Rhododendron vaseyi have bloomed, the ground covers of Heuchera villosa (hairy alumroot) and H. villosa var. purpurascens provide major interest. The purple form, discovered in a Tennessee forest, was mass-propagated by Longwood nursery staff. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
Sedums and Ferns. Paying attention to details, the main horizontals-and-verticals theme is played out at a small scale with Sedum ternatum (woodland stonecrop) and Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern). (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)
South Woods Edge. A moist, south-facing edge habitat was created to feature streamside natives including Taxodium ascendens 'Prairie Sentinel' (pond cypress), Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern) and Iris versicolor (blue flag). The artificial stream is part of the circulating water system that feeds Longwood's fountain displays. (Photo: W. Gary Smith, ASLA)

All photos © the landscape architect, except photo #10

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