In recent weeks, Paul Redman has ended his workday by donning walking shoes and traversing the entire breadth of Longwood Gardens, the grand assemblage of conservatories, fountain terraces and gardens in the former du Pont estate in southeastern Pennsylvania.
For Redman, the botanical garden’s chief executive, the daily walks have brought home the two paradoxical realities of the past few weeks: the beauty of the Mid-Atlantic spring in a highly cultivated setting, and the total absence of visitors to soak it in.
“This is what we do. We share the beauty that we create,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking.” Of at least 600 public gardens across the United States, large and small, all but a handful have been closed since mid-March, when the coronavirus forced us to stay at home.