T2H2 trundled off to Wilmington, Delaware the first week of May to visit three of the great duPont gardens, Longwood, Winterthur and Nemours. Once there, we discovered – as one brochure describes it, “The Brandywine Valley is America’s Garden Capital” I would concur and one up that bravado by declaring the whole area, including the city of Wilmington, is a big slice of heaven.
NC Wyeth, “The Medicine Ship” Scribner’s Magazine illustration 1915, Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, photo by Iory Allison. I know this jolly bunch doesn’t have a hell of a lot to do with my narrative but the general atmosphere plucks my heart strings and what a harp is being played here!
If you have been following the wandering exploits of T2H2 (The Two Happy Husbands, Iory and Leo) you will know that we’ve been dashing around the globe and having one oo-la-la experience after another. But truth in disclosure, the world that I present to you in the Glamour Galore Blog is heavily edited and enhanced, mostly by erasing the hordes of humanity who are charging off in the same direction as our humble selves. The result of all this jostling to get a peak at Mona at the Louvre or Michelangelo’s hefty Sibyls hanging off the Sistine ceiling, is more or less an uncomfortable group hug rather than an exalted experience of divine splendor. Taking this conundrum into account, we’ve been rethinking directions and destinations – not to mention destiny but that is anyone’s guess so let’s not go there. Where we do want to go is some place more convenient not involving interminable security lines, pat downs or shake downs. All of that hoopla leads to being packed into a tin can that only after a life time of delays on the tarmac of this or that airport will haltingly hurl us, at the speed of light, into the ionosphere. In a word, “UGH!” And it doesn’t matter what you pay, class distinctions won’t exclude you from being squeezed into a puny space that any self-respecting sardine would never put up with without protestations of extreme umbrage!
With all of this in mind we have cast our wander-lusting gaze to ports of call closer to home and more to our liking. Gardens loom large in our hearts and minds, especially my husband Leo’s garden. If you haven’t visited his patch of bliss in the Fenway Victory Gardens, Boston – put down that PB&J you are munching and dash over. You’ll find him at A-1, right by the Richardson stone bridge over the Muddy River. Right now, he has a voluptuous multi-petal pink rose in full bloom that is reminiscent of the blush on an angel’s cheek. And if angel’s cheeks are not your usual experience in life then hop the next train to Wilmington, as we did, and high tail it over to Longwood Gardens where you can glimpse something like my picture below. Whenever you get there the gardens will be in spectacular bloom.
Sunken garden, Longwood gardens, photo by Iory
So, this is where we ended up, but how did we get there? Amtrak’s North East Reginal took us from South Station, Boston to down town Wilmington where we put up at the Double Tree Hotel. What the Double lacks in prestige it more than recompensed by accommodating us in a room that was almost as large as our apartment back home. Two Queen beds prevented any tossing or turning, sending us directly to dream-land as soon as heads hit the plethora of squishy pillows. I had reserved a rent-a-car when I made my arrangements and that too was as easy as pie (you gotta wonder for whom pie manufacture is easy…Enough Iory, get on with it!) Ok, alright already, now where was I, oh yeah…The car rental counters are right there at the very nice train station, and the car pick up is directly across the street. All three of our garden destinations were about a ½ hour drive from downtown Wilmington. The farthest away being Longwood, just over the Delaware border into Pennsylvania.
Fountain Terrace, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory Allison
The big deal, as you may know, at Longwood is the Fountain Terrace, it has recently, summer of 2017, reopened after a two-year facelift that cost $90 million smakeroos! It’s wonderful what gunpowder and paint will buy (G & P, are sources of the duPont fortune.) The original aquatic extravaganza was installed by Pierre S. duPont in 1931 and then, as now, the evening displays incorporate light shows of illuminated water in rainbow colors. I read in my research, pyrotechnics too, jets of fire are apparently incorporated in the show – now that’s one oo-la-la spectacle I would definitely go back for.
We visited bright and early on a sparkling weekday morning and were delighted to witness the crisp formality of the terraced water garden, very reminiscent of the Orangery Terrace at Versailles. However, even better than the extravagances of the various Louis back in the old country, Longwood’s fountains dance and weave to music in a stunning ejaculation of show stopping magnificence with some of the 1,719 jets reaching a fantastic erection of 175 feet rocketing in the air! Needless to say, this goes way beyond a mere oo-la-la experience, this is Grand Opera in water and if I’m not mistaken I believe some of the musical accompaniments are just that, grand opera arias.
Conservatory interior, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory Allison
On a quieter, but no less extravagant, note the Conservatory halls stretch in various distant directions on a scale of grandeur that literally takes your breath away. Then, when the initial shock wave of surprise and delight calms, one takes a deep breath saturated by an intoxicating array of floral perfumes that are guaranteed to knock your socks off. In that state of undress and drunken glee the impact of color, texture and seemingly infinite flower forms wash over your senses cleansing away the detritus and grime from the mundane world, rejuvenating one’s spirit to a place of serene peace.
Flower Walk, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory Allison
Outside, along the Flower Walk all abloom with the glories of Spring, I came across the three graces who were all dolled up, determined not to be out done by the fantastic display of white foxgloves punctuating deep beds of tulips, purple globe alliums and clusters of chiming blue bells.
Flower Walk, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory
And speaking of Foxgloves, the heavy abundance of the Goddess makes these beauties dance with shear delight and regal pride!
Flower Walk, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory Allison
And talk about tulips, but no, our voices are completely drowned out by the thundering chorus of chromatic crescendo and contrapuntal rhythms of hue that are the gardeners coloratura design and conceit, Brava, Bellissima!
Conservatory flowers, Longwood Gardens, photo by Iory Allison
Here is a mini-mountain of extravagance that shouts aloud, “You are my slave!” I eagerly surrendered myself to her irresistible seduction and cry, “Yes, let me plunge into your depths!”
And so, you too can eschew the shackles of ordinary life, dive into my place of Glamour where spells are cast and dreams come true.
Click the urn to indulge in an intoxicating world of astounding beauty at Longwood Gardens
In the weeks to come we will visit Winterthur and then Nemours