The battle plan was to attack on Saturday in August. The weather was to be glorious. The route was arranged, camera batteries charged, and walking clothes readied. Then it rained Friday evening and the meteorologists changed their tune to Saturday showers. Dark overcast skies ready to burst open greeted Saturday morning so the trip was off.
After plans were cancelled, the sun then came out, and rain on the radar map evaporated. I flew into the car and peeled out at the last minute, calculating an arrival time before lunch.
The woods were the first stop. Towering mature trees filtered light down to open glades with peaceful water.
The property was owned by the Pierce family as a farm, with the owners planting specimen tress on a section of the grounds through the 1800s. It was called Pierce's Park, but the Pierce family wanted to sell the property, and a lumber company had a deal to buy the property partly because of the great trees.
The bench beckons for a rest in the woods. But, there is an entire botanical garden to explore.
Pierre duPont, industrialist head of the duPont Compny, was an amateur gardener as most in his famous family. He was appalled that the lumber company was planning to harvest the trees in Pierce's Park, so he purchased the lumber company, then obtained the property and made it his summer home.
The water tower at the edge of the woods.
Pierre duPont laid out and planted gardens on the property, built a spectacular conservatory greenhouse, collected more specimens, built an outdoor theater, and installed grand fountains. He entertained, sponsored theater performances, and kept the park open to the public.
This is the new meadow, still filling in, reminding me of an Andrew Wyeth painting.
The property was set up in a well-funded Longwood Foundation for the preservation of the gardens and for improvement of horticulture. After his death in 1954, the foundation undertook expansion and education. Today, Longwood Gardens and the estate cover 1,077 acres (4.2 km2) and employ over 1000. The newest addition is the 86 acre (0.3 km2) meadow garden demonstrating ecological design with wetlands and open native habitat.
One of the trial gardens - this one of dahlias and daylily cultivars being tried (in the background.)
The main conservatory greenhouse.
I always admire little design details that are unexpected and delight the senses.
The 'white' garden in one of the 'green'houses.
One inside the orchid house. I was impressed by the shape and color. No name.
I like the color combination of the ground plantings.
Yellow and one of those plantings.
One of many in the water pond garden outside the greenhouses. The fact that this was Egyptian reminded me of a reference in the movie The Ten Commandments.
The white garden with dusty miller, nicotiana, oak leaf hydrangea, lily, cleome, lisianthus.
Yellow garden (and the orange garden peeking behind) with lily, canna, rudbeckia, lisianthus, dahlia, hibiscus.
Very happy oak leaf hydrangea, not only in specimen size, but in flower size.
I was not a big fan of coleus, but am coming around to liking them, and this one helps a lot. No name.
This trip was a shot of ambition in an otherwise dull month where gardening chores are not fun but chores. Other destinations near Longwood Gardens that I must include on the bucket list are Winterthur and Nemours Mansion and Gardens , Alfred duPont's pad.
Blooming: mexican zinnia, zinnia, echinacea, cleome, marigold, mini glad, rudbeckia, hydrangea, nicotiana
Harvested: many peppers & tomatoes, 1 zucchini