Our Longwood Gardens Outing

Okay, this isn’t exactly fashion-related, although heaven knows PLENTY of designers get inspiration from flowers.  This was a fun outing my husband Robert and I had at Longwood Gardens recently that I think you might enjoy.


Longwood Gardens, like Winterthur and Nemours Mansion, are palatial estates that were once owned by members of the Du Pont family. The Du Ponts were minor French nobility who fled France during the French Revolution and came to the United States in 1799.

In 1802, 31 year old Éleuthère Irénée du Pont de Nemours, a chemist by training, started the E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company at the Eleutherian Gunpowder Mill on the Brandywine Creek just north of Wilmington, Delaware. Given the poor quality of gunpowder available in the States at that time, E.I. recognized the market opportunity and seized upon it, creating some of the best grade gunpowder available. His business and reputation grew quickly. Within two years, both the American Military and the John Jacob Astor American Fur Company were using Du Pont gunpowder. The company later expanded into other explosives, including dynamite and smokeless powders.

By the early 1900’s, the Du Pont family was VERY rich, and as was popular among the industrial barons of the time, they began erecting magnificent estates around the Wilmington, Delaware area. Longwood became known for its gardens, Winterthur for its museum-quality collections, and Nemours for its artwork, tapestries, and cars. Meanwhile, down south in Virginia, William du Pont purchased and renovated President James Madison’s home, Montpelier, which became legendary for its horses. Actor Christopher Reeve was severely injured participating in a Montpelier horse show.

Around the same time E.I. du Pont’s great-grandsons were building their magnificent homes in the early 1900’s, they started buying up small chemical companies and expanding into other areas. They established the first industrial labs in the United States, looking for new uses for plant fibers, lacquers, and other non-explosive materials. Nylon, Neoprene, Lucite, Teflon, Dacron, Lycra, Tyvek – and more – were all developed in DuPont labs. Today, the DuPont corporation stretches across the globe and its company slogan is, “The miracle of science.”

Did You Know?

The DuPont Labs invented nylon stockings and introduced them at the 1939 World’s Fair. They were an instant hit. But they quickly became a war casualty in the 1940’s when the U.S. Military commandered all DuPont’s nylon — for parachutes.

Longwood Gardens

Located near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens was purchased by Pierre du Pont in 1906 as his “weekend retreat.” Between his keen interest in gardening and his very deep pockets, he transformed the former Pierce family estate into a magnificent venue that has been enjoyed by visitors for over a hundred years. Longwood has a master gardening program and hosts over 400 events a year, including business retreats, jazz concerts, and weddings.

Here’s a peek at the grounds:

Pierce-duPont House
The House

flower garden
Flower Gardens

The Gazebo

Topiary Garden
The Topiary Garden

The Conservatory, where the orchid show was.
It overlooks an expansive lawn where
they have outdoor concerts and weddings

The organery
The Orangery, one of 11 indoor gardens in the conservatory

Above photos courtesy of LongwoodGardens.org

Our Visit

Robert has long been interested in gardening and was a member of the Houston Orchid Society when we lived in Houston in the early 90’s. The orchid show at Longwood was hosted by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society and was attended by people all over the world, given all the accents and languages we heard. Some of the plant growers selling orchids in the sale tents were from as far away as Maui, Bogotá, and Caracas.

Here are some of the shots I took as we strolled through the show in the Conservatory:



Robert bought some of the orange spikey kind
(you can tell I’m not the gardener here!)
Up close, each bloom looks like a bird taking flight. Very cool!


The conservatory

Indoor garden

In the conservatory

Robert among the orchids

My hubby enjoying some rare time off doing something he loves

Not bad for a little camera phone, eh?

So – when was the last time you had an outing like this? If you can’t remember, then it’s been too long. Go! Live! Isn’t that why you work so hard?

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