Kim Wilkie's Terraced Landform in Longwood Gardens

The East Conservatory Plaza of Longwood Gardens
in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is a gem of an outdoor space.

 Kim Wilkie designed a landscape, opened on October 9, 2010, that offers a place to relax and houses 'environmentally conscious' restrooms. It also features a sweeping, south-facing arc of a terraced landform that provides a grand view of the East Conservatory. This view was never possible before.

The Plaza stresses conservation of natural resources. The underground restrooms take advantage of the heat provided by earth's natural  insulation, an age-old concept that is finally being rediscovered. Our ancestors used this technique for their cold storage of perishables,  root cellars; for growing on seedlings in late winter, cold frames; and Victorians used this idea for their 'ferneries'.

This energy efficient approach allows natural  light to come in through a clear ceiling above and added insulation of walls is accomplished through an elegant 'green wall' solution.   Bravo, Kim Wilkie!

The restroom walls being built - they retain earth

Here are the same walls, covered with an assortment of plants
The green wall was designed as a lush oasis for guests entering the restrooms. The walls are lined with more than 47,000 ferns and sub-tropical plants! This is said to be North America’s largest green wall.
A semi circular terraced lawn, consisting of five grass terraces, surrounds the Plaza. Each terrace has grass on the face of the slope as well as the top. The faces of the slopes are positioned at a slight angle, perfect for leaning back, talking with friends, or watching the clouds. The area is used for informal gatherings, including educational talks and demonstrations.

Here Kim Wilkie checks the grading of the terraces so they are perfect.
finished terraced landform
photo by Larry Albee
Do you want to know how the grass is cut on the sloped landform?
They use a 'hover mower' that creates an air cushion which “lifts” the mower, thereby eliminating the need for wheels.


  1. Wow, that looks very cool..and I thought that could be easy to maintain..but then I saw what it took to make...really beautiful...wish I had the ability to do such a thing.

  2. Janie, it is a real undertaking to create these landforms....I am very interesting in the hover lawnmower.


Post a Comment

Hi there! I would love to hear from you....

Popular Posts of all Time

Angelface Blue and Dark Violet Angelonia - a Flower that Keeps Giving

'Purple Smoke' - The best Baptisia

Getting in the 'Flow' by Gardening

No-Fail Tips for Turning Hydrangeas Blue!

Repurposed and Recycled - Creative Ideas for Garden Design

My one day Class Wednesday April 16 in NY - Jan Johnsen