Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rosie And XKT Visit Longwood Gardens In Kennett Square, PA. Part 1.

On Monday, XKT and Rosie traveled from the Outer Banks to Kennett Square. Pennsylvania, where we stayed the night. Next morning, we toured Longwood Gardens, a horticultural showcase offering majestic trees, exquisite flowers, and a fantastic conservatory. Measuring 1077+ acres, Longwood Gardens consists of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. It is one of the premier botanical gardens in the United States. Originally, this land was occupied by the native Lenni Lenape tribe who hunted, fished, and farmed this glorious wilderness. The Lenni Lenape, meaning the "true people," are a group of several bands of Native Americans with shared cultural and linguistic distinctions. They are also known as the Delaware Indians, from the Delaware River, so named by the English settlers after Lord De La Warr, the governor of the Jamestown, Virginia, colony. In 1700, the property was purchased from William Penn, founder and "absolute proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony, and the future state of Pennsylvania, by a Quaker family named Peirce. Joshua and Samuel Peirce soon established a working farm and in 1798 began planting an arboretum consisting of numerous rare and interesting ornamental trees and shrubs. By 1850, the Peirces had amassed one of the finest collections of trees in the nation. In 1906, Pierre S. du Pont (1870 - 1954) purchased the property from the Peirce family to save the arboretum from being sold for lumber. du Pont added extensively to the property from 1906 to the 1930's. A world traveler, du Pont was open to all sorts of influences and was inspired to add features to the garden after attending world's fairs, the most notable additions being the massive conservatory, complete with a magnificent pipe organ, a star-lit theater, and an extensive system of fountains. du Pont was 36 when he bought the Peirce farm and began creating what would become Longwood Gardens. The gardens were built piecemeal, beginning with a 600-foot long Flower Garden Walk in 1907, reflecting an "old-fashioned" influence with rose trellises, shrubs, and cottage-garden flowers all on a grand scale. His later gardens would draw heavily on Italian and French influences. In 1914, du Pont debuted his Open Air Theater, inspired by the outdoor theater at Villa Gori, near Siena, Italy, but much grander. The exquisite Conservatory, a perpetual Eden, opened in 1921 and is one of the world's great greenhouses, sheltering 20 indoor gardens and over 500 types of plants in 4.5 acres of display.
Here's the visitor's center.
Excerpt from a letter written by du Pont: I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity, that is, I have purchased a small farm about ten miles from Wilmington. I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition and making it a place where I can entertain my friends.
Before you stands an impressive American elm, once an iconic sight in towns across the nation. When Dutch elm disease, a fungal disease spread by beetles, first struck in the 1930's, the nation's towns began to lose their mature elm trees. By the 1980's, this stately tree and icon of America's "Main Street" had essentially disappeared. This American elm is the sole survivor of an avenue of elms planted by Pierre du Pont that succumbed to Dutch elm disease...
This is a 600-foot-long avenue of 27 huge bald cypresses fronted by an arborvitae hedge, providing a stately backdrop for a flower border whose planting plan is redesigned each year.
Siberian irises.
Gardeners were working hard in the flower gardens, pulling out spent flowers and replanting ...
... and pruning the wisterias, which are grown on heavy arbors and trained by the Longwood gardeners into tiered tree forms supported by metal poles.
Unfortunately, we were too late for the wisteria in bloom.
Azalea in bloom.
Canopy Cathedral Treehouse. And rhododendrums, oh my.
Tuned chimes gently sound in the trees surrounding this treehouse inspired by a Norwegian Stave Church. This treehouse was constructed with the care of the trees in mind. Its structural support is an innovative "Pin Foundation" that is unobtrusive to the tree roots and trunks. Additionally, reclaimed lumber from an old dairy barn, a warehouse, and a toothpaste factory were used throughout the structure.
This is the Italian water garden. Pruned littleleaf linden trees, clipped ivy, and green lawns surround 6 large and 12 small blue-tiled pools with 600 jets of water and a water staircase that recirculate 4500 gallons of water each minute.
Indian Physic.
This is just the beginning. Stay tuned.


Quiglets said...

Lovely to see Longwood Gardens in the daylight! My in-laws live near there, and last Thanksgiving, we visited the Christmas Lights display. Can't wait to see your next posting!

Marilyn said...

Thanks for letting me see some of the areas that I didn't have the time to tour last summer.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Quiglets, I bet that was spectacular.

Mar, I have a special section in Part 3 for you!