Longwood Gardens - Orchid Extravaganza! / by Brooke Courtney

I love taking June to new places, or watching her experience new things. Last week she ate a Skittle for the first time and I honestly thought her mind was going to explode. 😂 She just looked at me, wide-eyed, and said "Yummmmmy!" It was precious. So naturally, it was loads of fun seeing her experience Longwood Gardens for the first time last month. Technically she'd been to Longwood Gardens before, but she was only a few months old at the time and had no idea what was going on. I mean, she was incredibly adorable during the visit, which was enough to make some old ladies stop and take a photo with her 😂, but other than that, she basically just sat in her stroller while my Mom and I pointed out every other plant and flower, saying "Ohhh, look!" or more often, "Ohhh... why doesn't mine look like that?" Our most recent visit was much different, however! June looked at everything, while sprinting from one room to the next, barley giving us adults time to look at anything.

If you haven't been to Longwood Gardens before, you've gotta go. And you've got to go during different times of the year, too. Last month was the first time I'd had the chance to go and visit their Orchid Extravaganza. And holy cow, it was incredible. On the drive down there I thought to myself, "I mean, it'll be pretty. But like, I've seen lots of orchids at weddings and they're cool and all..." But no joke. It was mind blowing how many orchids there were - both in quantity and variety. My photos from our day do not do it justice!

This past November my Grandpa passed away at the beautifully old age of 95, leaving behind a family member/descendant for every year he was alive. Yes, you read that right, 95 people -- between his children and their spouses, their kids (my cousins) and spouses, and now their kids (like, June). How amazing is that! After my Grandmother passed away, when I was little, my Grandpa got remarried to a lovely lady by the name of Liz. My Grandpa and Grandma-Liz were married for a little over 22 years before he left us last fall. That is amazing, in and of itself.

I tell you all that to say, Liz was a major part of our family and loved Grandpa, and all of us, so well for all those years. She was even the inspiration for our Easter Egg Roll, where we literally bowl our Easter eggs down their long driveway every spring! Her children and family, however, live in New York and she is currently in the process of moving there now. Our trip to Longwood Gardens, with Liz, my Mom, June and I, was to honor Liz in a non-formal way, and spend a little more time with her before she packs up all of her things and starts fresh in New York, at the age of 74.

I think I can speak for all of us when I say we had a wonderful time walking around the gardens, breathing in that fresh "greenhouse air", annnnnnd chasing after June.

Several times throughout our visit I just had to strap June into her stroller so we could walk at the pace we wanted to. 😂 She was like a little rocket flying down the paths at full speed! And both my Mom and I dressed way too warm, so were sweating like crazy in the warm gardens, trying to keep up with sprint-legs-mc-gee!

One of June's favorite parts had nothing to do with the orchids at all, but was the puddles on the floor in one of the main gardens. She was insistent that my Mom run through them with her, back and forth, back and forth. (Insert another reason we were incredibly sweaty!)

You can imagine how thrilled she was when we ended our visit at the actual Children's garden and water play area.  They have little bugs you can scoop up out of the fountains, "paint brushes" you can use to paint the water on the walls, and loads of animal fountains that spout water across the distance of the entire garden!

Note: June totally thinks she's splashing me in the images below. 😂 Even though I was a good 4 feet from her with my camera at the time. She was giddy with excitment over "splashing Mama".

I would have let her really play and get wet in the fountains had it not been so cold outside! (We had a long walk back to our car, too.) I definitely want to go back in the summer when she can get as wet as she wants. I think I'll even bring her a change of clothes!

After watching the pelican fountain (below) blow bubbles in the water for what seemed like forever, we convinced June to leave the kid's gardens with the promise of lunch! We grabbed food at the cafe, which is delicious by the way, and eventually headed back out to our car and drove home.

It was a beautiful and refreshing day that I will remember for a long time. I am so glad I took my camera with me to capture those moments for us to look back on.

Also -- June and I are sending so much love to Grandma Liz on her new adventure in New York!