Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lights and Flowers

     On Christmas Eve we drove over to Kennett Square, Pa., to visit Longwood Gardens. The day was warm and overcast, in the 50s -- more like Oregon than Pennsylvania. We arrived around 3 in the afternoon, and as the skies darkened we walked up past the house, stopping to view the fountain display.

The du Pont summer house, through the trees

     Longwood lies in the valley of the Brandywine river, which flows into the Christina river near Wilmington, Delaware. It was created by Pierre S. du Pont (1870 - 1954) as his summer home, just ten miles from his main residence in Wilmington.

A Longwood fountain

     After watching the fountain display we headed up to the Conservatory, a huge greenhouse full of literally thousands of different plants and trees. 

A pond inside the Conservatory

     Du Pont was president of the DuPont chemical company. He later served as president of General Motors, while still sitting on the board of directors of DuPont.

Christmas tree made entirely of orchids

    He had an abiding interest in horticulture and like many captains of industry at the time he donated a significant portion of his fortune to charitable causes of one sort or another.

Orchid close-up

     He bought an old farm in 1906 -- to save the trees, he said -- and began to indulge his interest in horticulture, creating gardens, fountains, paths and pools.

Floating apples and cranberries

     He entertained his friends there in the summer, and eventually transformed the farm into one of the country's leading horticultural display gardens.

Not sure ... a mistletoe?

     Today the botanical gardens range over 1000 acres. The facility boasts the main house, the conservatory -- and woods and fields and fountains and gardens.

Red Hot Poker

     We were told that the staff starts decorating for Christmas in September, and altogether they put up a half million lights throughout the property. Longwood plays host to over a million visitors a year.

Christmas tree made of succulents

     By the time we went through the Conservatory and started down the lighted paths it had started to rain. But the rain did not dampen our enthusiasm.

Blue tree on the garden path

    Clearly, no one else was held back by the rain either. We heard German and French being spoken as we walked the grounds. People in wheelchairs. Families with kids. Elderly couples. Groups of teenagers.

Another lighted tree

     All to walk the grounds, gaze at the flowers, enjoy the incredible light display. All to enjoy the Christmas season.

And a merry Christmas to all!


DJan said...

The orchid and succulent trees are my favorites, along with the apple and cranberry display. Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing. :-)

Silver Willow said...

looks like a lovely day! I enjoyed the botanical garden in Chicago with my in-laws a couple of Xmas' ago. :)

Jono said...

That was a wonderful walk down memory lane for me. Used to go there with my parents every now and then. We lived north of Wilmington about three or four miles from the Pennsylvania border. Still as beautiful as ever.

retirementreflections said...

Thanks for this 'walking tour', Tom! A half million lights is very impressive! Wishing you a fantastic 2018 ahead!

Olga Hebert said...

Ooo. I love to visit places like that. Thanks for sharing these pictures. I especially liked the orchid tree!

Stephen Hayes said...

Hey, it was in the low thirties on Christmas Eve here in Oregon!

Anonymous said...

You are good with the camera. Excellent photos, Tom.

Barbara said...

What a wonderful adventure. Funny that his summer place was only 10 miles but it might have taken a long while to get there or it might be located such that the weather was lighter. All in all a great choice. I'd love to see it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I haven't been there for about 10 years...always a worthwhile Christmas display to make time to visit. - plynjyn

Eloise thisissixty.blog said...

Oh, what a wonderful place Longwood gardens looks. I've never visited USA but if anything made me want to, it's this! Maybe one day.