Pennsylvania/Delaware Valley Garden Tour
Once again, the NMG Organizing Committee presented Members and Friends with a spectacular itinerary of historic, world-class gardens, estates and an arboretum. Fifty-four of us travelled with Coach Canada from Peterborough, Port Hope and Brighton over five days. We managed to fit in some shopping as well.
In the early 1900’s Adolph and Christine Rosengarten engaged architect Charles Borie and landscape architect Thomas Sears to create and build their country retreat. Since 1990 the property has been managed by The Chanticleer Foundation. The garden has been called the most romantic, imaginative and exciting public garden in America. It is a study of textures and forms, where foliage trumps flowers. Seven horticulturalists lead the design and planting of The Tennis Court, Ruin, Gravel Garden, Pond Garden, Cut Flower and Vegetable Garden. And more. They focus on education, making their designs and ideas freely available. www.chanticleergarden.org
In 1923 a wealthy industrialist John Morris and his family willed their home and garden to The University of Pennsylvania. Their vision and legacy of education in horticulture and botany endures. The collection of plants began in the 1880s and currently more than 12,000 labelled plants of over 2,500 types from temperate areas of the world make up the Living Collection. A most impressive collection. The Arboretum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. www.morrisarboretum.org
Nemours Mansion and Garden.
Commissioned and owned by Alfred I. DuPont, the property was begun in 1909 and is loosely based on Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon at the Chateau de Versailles. Needless to say, the Mansion sets the tone for a very high style in the Garden which is the largest formal French garden in North America. Plantings and water features are embellished with gates from Wimbledon Manor outside London as well as a palace outside St. Petersburg Russia. The gardens are in the classic form of “rooms” and parterres as well as a maze, rock garden and a sunken garden. Marble statuary and bronzes of the classic style abound. www.nemoursmansion.org
The property was originally developed by the Bidermann family who were early investors in du Pont de Nemours & Co. They sold the house and property to General Henry du Pont in 1867 and subsequently his heirs. The 2,600+ acres were actively farmed and used to raise prize-winning dairy cattle. The landscape architect Marian Coffin designed the garden plan and in 1951 the estate was opened to the public.
The Enchanted Woods at Winterthur. Surely one of the most charming and magical gardens anyone could imagine. It delights children and adults. Highlights include Story Stones, a giant bird’s nest complete with eggs to hatch, a Troll Bridge (yes, “Troll”, not “toll”), a Gathering Green where children and fairies alike can gather around a May Pole, an Upside-Down Tree, a Fairy Flower Labyrinth, a Faerie Cottage, the Green Man’s Lair ….. and much much more. www.winterthur.org
Established over 70 years ago by the late Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Point Copeland, Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden that inspires an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and a commitment to protect the habitats that sustain them. They offer a programme that leads to a Certificate in Ecological Gardening. The Center serves as a model for environmentally beneficial gardening. They conduct original research on native plants in their Trial Garden and manage over 500 acres of natural lands. www.mtcubacenter.org
NMG last visited Longwood Gardens in early spring to see ‘the bones’ of the place. The spectacle of Longwood in summer is further inspiring and somewhat overwhelming. In addition to a 4 acre conservatory* there are 1,077 acres of gardens including an open air theatre, an Italian water garden, choreographed formal fountains, a look-out loft treehouse and multiples of themed gardens. Guided tours and talks are available. A remarkably inspiring place. Plus the food is delicious! www.longwoodgardens.org
*A further word about the conservatory. Constructed from 1919 to 1921, it is one of the world’s greatest greenhouse structures. With more than 4 acres of lush gardens under glass and 20 ‘rooms’ of pure sunshine and an expansive variety of plants from around the world. Try to be there at night for the night-blooming water lilies. That alone is worth the trip!