Regular readers of this column already know about our planned Philadelphia Garden Tour, and most people have heard of the tour centerpiece, Longwood Gardens. Fewer gardeners know about the nearby Winterthur Museum and Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware. Like Longwood, this fantastic estate was built by the DuPont family a century ago, but Winterthur couldn’t be more different from Longwood in its garden style.
We first visited Winterthur to see its world-renowned collection of period furniture. The DuPont mansion is 275 rooms, each one uniquely decorated and filled with an amazing array of antique furnishings from around the world. More recently, the Campbell family’s collection of historic soup tureens was moved to Winterthur from the Campbell’s Soup headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. This exhibit is a tour de force of craftsmanship by master ceramicists. potters and silversmiths from around the world.
But it was the spectacular gardens at Winterthur that impressed us the most. Longwood Gardens is very formal and symmetrical, but Winterthur was landscaped to highlight the rolling countryside and the effect is subtle but dramatic. Plants are arranged to appear as if they grew spontaneously, planted in large drifts and grouped with other plants that harmonize in color and form. Paths are curving rather than straight, following the contours of the land, passing around trees, drawing walkers into the 60-acre garden surrounded by 1000 acres of farmland.
The most memorable part of Winterthur is the Enchanted Woods, sheltered by a grove of huge oaks. Designed to entertain children, this 3-acre garden features a cutaway “Faerie Cottage” made of stone, with a thatched roof and miniature furniture, and a huge bird’s nest made of sticks and vines. An old gate plays a tune as you open it, and huge toadstools emit clouds of vapor for an eerie effect.
You are invited to tour with us this September, on our Philadelphia Garden Tour with Croswell Tours. We’re visiting Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, and the Wyeth museum and gardens at Brandywine. We’ll depart GoodSeed Farm on Sept. 13 for four days and three nights of terrific food, great gardens and museums. Get the details on the “Bus Tours” page our website at this link, or you can call or e-mail for more information: www.goodseedfarm.com/public/index.cfm?fuseaction=articles.list&ArticleInstanceID=938
Steve Boehme is the owner of GoodSeed Nursery & Landscape, located on Old State Route 32 three miles west of Peebles. More information is available online at www.goodseedfarm.com or call (937) 587-7021.