du Pont

5 area du Pont gardens celebrated in new book

Betsy PriceCulture, Headlines

du Pont

A new book celebrates the history and gardening traditions of Longood Gardens, Winterthur, Hagley, Nemours and Mt. Cuba.

A new book explores the rich heritage of five Delaware-area gardens that belonged to members of the du Pont family.

“Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley” (Monacelli, $60 hardcover) looks at Hagley Museum and Library, Nemours Estate, Mt. Cuba Center, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and Longwood Gardens.

Written by Marta McDowell and featuring photos by Larry Lederman, the book is 240 pages with 220 photos.

McDowell focuses on the stories of these gardens and their commitment to the future through strategies for sustainable management and growth.

“The Brandywine Valley is home to some of the most spectacular gardens in the world and so much of that beauty is owed to the thoughtful vision of the du Pont family who created and preserved these estates for all to enjoy,” said Paul B. Redman, president and CEO of Longwood Gardens.

The du Pont family arrived in America in 1800 and made a fortune first with their gunpowder mills before the family company moved into chemicals. While the family name became internationally recognized for its business, the family members became philanthropists, preservationists, collectors and ecological stewards.

Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, for example, got its start in 1906 when Pierre S. du Pont purchased a small farm to protect a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Now you can’t keep people out of its grand conservatory, especially at Christmas, and its 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows and fountains.

A chapter is dedicated to each garden, taking readers to the naturalized woodland at Winterthur, the Beaux-Arts elegance of Nemours, the striking ruins atop ruins of the Crowninshield Garden at Hagley, and the picturesque native plant gardens and scenic trails of Mt. Cuba Center.

The estate landscapes all include formal and naturalistic gardens. All are open to the public and feature a variety of events year round.

The du Pont gardens

Winterthur was transformed under the direction of H.F. du Pont, who studied horticulture at Harvard University. Throughout his life, he played an active role in the plant life of his Greenville estate, eventually turning his house and gardens into a public museum.

Nemours was built to mimic Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon, which she used as a retreat at Versaille, with formal gardens that include a sweeping view from the front across a large pond and garden folly to a statue of the huntress Diana, with her arrows aimed at the bronze stags standing on either side of the house.

Hagley is the site of the first du Pont family home, Eleutherian Mills, built near the company’s Brandywine River gunpowder works.

Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden devoted to the exploration and advocacy for native plants.

The five institutions will celebrate the launch of “Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley” with a book signing and lecture at 1 p.m. Oct. 1 at Winterthur Museum.

McDowell will talk about histories of the gardens and the stories behind that history, while Lederman will describe how he approaches photographing throughout the seasons. A selection of photos from the book will be on display.

Tickets for the lecture only or including the lecture and a signed copy of the book, are available now on the Winterthur website. With a signed book, the tickets are $75 and include the wine toast and lecture. Without the book, they are $25.


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