Nova Scotia Road Trip! - 2002

K ENNETT S QUARE , PA L ONGWOOD G ARDENS Day 3 - What a wonderful day! We started off at Longwood Gardens, a goal of ours for many years — and it was well worth the wait! First, we went downtown in Wilmington to see something of the city before going out to the suburbs and Kennett Square, PA, where du Pont built his gardens. We saw the Christina River and the Riverwalk the city has created and it looked very nice. There are some very large governmental-looking buildings in downtown as well, but we have no idea what they were since Dover is the capital of the state. Out in Kennett Square, we found the Gardens with ease and were actually a little early. Everything opens at 9 and we were among the first inside. The visitor center has a little 4-minute movie to orient you to the Gardens and helps you find what you might be most interested in seeing. When you emerge from the visitor ’ s center, you are met with the “ Cow Lot ” which is a lovely greensward with benches and some statuary on the periphery, but mainly just lush green grasses. To the right is the rose bower which was not in bloom while we visited, partly because of the severe drought PA has been suffering this year too. The roses are the climbing-type strung about huge horseshoe-shaped arches all around a center courtyard. We could all picture how beautiful it would have been at another time of year. We continued walking around and everywhere wonderful foliage, plants, shrubs, flowers met our eyes. Everything is labeled and often additional information is included. We were all surprised at the number of things which are blooming in September. There are many water features on the property but none of them are operating because of the drought — the only one permitted to work is directly behind the visitor center and we missed it! The gardens are multi-tiered so there is always something different to divert the eye. There are many trees of immense size and strangeness as well as the more common varieties. Again, we were shocked to find bald cypress thriving at this latitude. Du Pont (1870-1954) bought the original part of the garden from people who were going to lumber out the many prize specimen trees which the first owners, the Peirces who had received the land grant from William Penn, had carefully and lovingly planted there. Mr. du Pont then bought other neighboring farms to increase his holding to the 1000+ acres now in the Gardens. He built a matching annex onto the original farmhouse and used that place as his home on the property. His crowning architectural achievement, however, was the 4-5 acre conservatory building. What a magnificent place it is! He had always stated that he would build a conservatory that people could go inside and enjoy and he really pulled it off.

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