Thursday, October 31, 2013

Travel: Longwood Gardens, Part 2

I hope you enjoyed our ramble the other week through Longwood Gardens. We covered less than half of the outdoor space then, so today we will see a little more.

We will be exploring the area west of the Conservatory. This section of the garden is noted in the black circle of the Longwood Outdoor Garden Map below.

This past July I was there, so most of the photos in will be from that visit.

The main walk to this part of the garden is a tree-lined path. On a hot summer's day, this shady path is quite refreshing, especially in contrast with the large open lawn of the Main Fountain Garden.

The path leads to the modest-sized (compared to the gardens!), ivy-covered Peirce-du Pont House, where Mr. du Pont lived with his family. You can take a tour through the inside and see how it looked while he lived there, as well as view displays that tell the history of his gardens.

But you don't want to linger there too long. There are gardens to be explored.

Flower Garden Walk

In this spectacular garden, the show is all about the blooms. It was actually the first garden du Pont planned and built. The long straight walk features flowers organized by color: blues, purples, reds, oranges, yellows, whites. The blocks of color create amazing impact. I had hardly finished ooh-ing and aah-ing over one color when I was gobsmacked by the next.

(Sorry that the quality on some of these pictures is not the greatest. I had to switch to my cell phone camera because the other had run out of battery.)

The picture doesn't do the color justice. These purple blooms were stunning!

A long view of the purples and blues.

Here you can see the reds transitioning to oranges and yellows.

The yellow blooms were particularly stunning---probably my favorite. I love these neat little soldier rows of feathery blooms contrasting with the gorgeous yellow topiaries.

More yellow. I had no idea I loved yellow flowers so much.

Aren't these gorgeous?? There were bright purple ones at the other end of the garden. I think they are some kind of double-bloom  Lisianthus. Possibly my new favorite flower!

The view from the white garden looking back towards the yellow. You can just see the orange and red blooms and the central fountain.

Looking the other way on the flower walk. The elegant, circular stone bench is a wonderful, cool place to sit and rest your weary legs. And the bench has fun secret. If you sit on one end of the half circle and your friend sits on the other end, you can whisper to each other and the sound will travel through the bench. :)

Pierce's Woods and Lake

Leaving the elegant blooms of the Flower Walk, the path leads you to Pierce's Woods and Lake. Subdued elegance after the showy blooms, but a majestic forest and tiger-lily edged lake features trees, some of which are part of the original 18th Century arboretum.

I just love this view. It seems so natural, yet it has been so cleverly and beautifully laid out. There is symmetry with the two extending branches reaching in, the back curve of trees contrasting with the perpendicular curve of the path going into the trees. The symmetry is balanced with a gorgeous, low-hanging bush creating a slightly off-center focal point. 

Beautiful canopy of Pennsylvania forest. The effect of dappled light from an overcast day coming through the trees makes this feel like an enchanted forest.

My camera cannot capture the height of this gorgeous cypress tree.

The tiny people on the bridge gives you a sense of the scale of these trees. Having lived in Mexico and then Texas for most of my adult life where short trees are the norm, I am always stunned at the beauty of truly tall, majestic old trees. Strangely enough, tall trees are one of the things I miss most.  If you live in a place with abundant rainfall and temperate climate, take a moment to savor the beauty of the trees around you. :)

While this end of the garden seems more like a beautifully landscaped park, Mr. du Pont didn't forget to give us a show-stopping feature even in this subdued end of the garden.

Italian Water Gardens

This, my friends, is a proper Italian water garden. If you don't know exactly what that is, I highly recommend watching Monty Don's Italian Gardens. (I could not find a DVD version available in the U.S., but you can currently watch all four episodes on YouTube.) du Pont's Italian garden is quite small, and coming at the end of the very naturalistic landscape of the park, it does strike me as slightly out of place. But I enjoyed discovering all of the features, like the little gargoyles along the edges and the elegant, curved cascade of water steps.

Leaving the arboretum, the path curves back toward the main gardens. It takes you down a corridor of majestic Cypress. I have never been to Longwood during the fall when the leaves are changing, but I have seen pictures and it is stunning.

Even in summer, however, when the leaves are dark green, it feels as though you are walking through a verdant cathedral.

A patio to sit and enjoy the view of lawns, edged by the Cypress on one side and the Flower Walk on the other.

These elephant ears were huge! See my mom's head helps to demonstrate the scale. ;)

The Rose Garden and Topiary

Although there is much more to see in the west gardens, our path is bringing us round toward the main entrance. First, there is a romantic patio with climbing roses and wisteria arch, which were past bloom. The path takes you through several smaller gardens, such as the peony garden which I have yet to see in bloom.

Finally, what garden would be complete without a Rose Garden and Topiary Garden?

Longwood's Rose garden, though fairly simple in design, had such robust, healthy blooms when I was there (kind of sounding like a theme, isn't it?). So many times I am disappointed by rose gardens. Of course, I know that "to everything there is a season" and certainly roses are not long-lasting blooms. But it is rare to see such full, healthy blooms over the entire rose garden.

The display gardens really are just the tip of the iceberg. They are the result of round-the-clock work by hundreds of gardeners and volunteers and tireless researchers. Visit Longwood's website to find out many more details.

I hope you've enjoyed the virtual tour, and
I hope it inspires you to visit if you ever have the opportunity!

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