The Brandywine Valley has a rich tradition of horticulture from the benevolence of the famed du Pont family to arboretums paying homage to Pennsylvania – Penn’s Woods. This heritage resonates throughout the greater Philadelphia region, earning the moniker – America’s Garden Capital. The horticultural influence of the famed du Pont family is particularly strong in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Northern Delaware.
The Brandywine Valley is home to Longwood Gardens, the world’s premier horticultural display garden, founded by Pierre S. du Pont. Situated on 1,050 acres, Longwood features 20 indoor gardens as well as 20 outdoor gardens, a breathtaking conservatory and spectacular illuminated fountains and fireworks. Built in 1919, the conservatory is one of the world’s great greenhouse structures; home to 20 different gardens featuring 5,500 types of plants. Outdoor gardens overflow with gorgeous flowers and spectacular fountains. Throughout the 20 gardens, visitors will be inspired by the Idea Garden, breathe in the fragrances of the Rose Garden, delight in the sights and sounds of the Chime Tower and waterfalls; take a forest walk and so much more. New in 2014 is the expanded Meadow Garden, growing from 40 to 86 acres featuring colourful, native wildflowers and meandering walking trails.
Experience Winterthur Museum and Country Estate. Once the home of Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur’s 1,000-acre country estate encompasses rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy that served as the basis for his life’s work in the garden. He selected the choicest plants from around the world to enhance the natural setting, arranging them in lyrical colour combinations and carefully orchestrating a succession of bloom from late January to November. Du Pont translated his love of the land into a unified work of art that embodies a romantic vision of nature’s beauty. Fittingly, this estate, close to American royalty, hosts the exhibition “Costumes of Downton Abbey” through 2014.
French-inspired Nemours is the three hundred acre estate of Alfred I. du Pont. The 47,000 sq.ft. mansion looms over the surrounding formal gardens. The grounds surrounding the mansion extend for one third of a mile along the main vista from the house, and are among the finest examples of French-style gardens in the United States. Highlights of this extraordinary garden include a boxwood garden; a French parterre garden; a Canadian hemlock maze garden, elevated to be viewed from the mansion; a Colonnade, designed by Thomas Hastings; the Sunken Garden; and the Temple of Love, featuring a life-sized statue of Diana the Huntress cast by Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1780. A one-acre reflecting pool with 157 jets, other fountains and statuary are also elements of this spectacular property.
The Rosengarten family also left a legacy of horticultural philanthropy in the region. Chanticleer was the estate of Adolph Rosengarten, head of Rosengarten and Sons Pharmaceutical Company. His son, Adolph Jr. left the estate as a public garden; Chanticleer opened to the public in 1993 and is an oasis of majestic trees and verdant lawns. Foliage and flowers combine with unique containers, plant combinations and colours. Some highlights of Chanticleer include a ruin garden, pond garden and Asian woods. Bridges, benches, paths and unique stone furniture accentuate the natural landscape to make this “pleasure garden” an unforgettable experience. New in 2014, tours of the historic home will take place every Friday and Saturday at 11am.
Tranquil, stately arboretums round out the horticultural experience in the Brandywine Valley. Jenkins Arboretum and Garden is one of Pennsylvania’s major horticultural and environmental assets. It preserves and nurtures 46 acres of natural environment; showcasing native trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, laurels, ferns and wildflowers.
The Brandywine River serves as a horticultural canvas on the grounds of renowned Brandywine River Museum of Art, a showplace of nature as well as artistic treasures. Native plants and wildflowers populate the landscape around this historic gristmill, while the museum houses works from American landscape artists and three generations of the Wyeth family artists.