June 4, 2012
Remember when we didn’t have to pay taxes? That time we had maids, butlers, and servants galore? Ah, yes. That was a time. A time for big money, no responsibilities and a chance to do whatever you wanted. Remember that?
The site of
In 1798, the first owners of the land on which the Longwood estate stands, planted their version of an arboretum which heartily welcomed the public from the very start. The Pierce brothers were known to have the finest arboretum in
Our story gets more involved, as it was the dawn of the industrial revolution and land owners with a love of nature, trees and plants were in the minority.
In comes one very industrious capitalist: a lover of nature named Pierre DuPont. He bought the land from the Pierce brothers to keep the trees from being farmed for lumber. It became his obsession for the rest of his life, and the grounds of Longwood are now a mecca for all who love the things that are preserved: acres of land, trees, flowers, greenhouses and homes.
Pierre DuPont (founder of Dupont Chemical) made millions bringing smokeless gunpowder to the
We are thankful for his good conscience. After his death, he left part of his wealth to the Longwood Foundation which provides for upkeep of the estate, cultural events, and one of the finest horticultural research centers in the world. Over the last 30 years, over 5,000 students have attended programs in horticulture at Longwood. A legacy indeed. As the ever social-conscious Dupont stated in his will, the gardens were to always be open to the public and to be a place of educational endeavor.
The grounds are seasonally themed with long walkways with fields of flowers and trees. Water features that defy engineering in the 19th century are everywhere. It’s impossible to understand the way they worked without electricity.
Dupont loved to see his flowers in a natural state, and much of the grounds boast an easy, natural look with masses of flowers, vines, and trees in a natural setting. A grand tree house stands out as miraculous. Not only for the young, this tree house is heavily draped by wisteria, old age, and a good dose of old fashioned whimsy.
Relaxed meandering through
Would we like to live in this time again? Most of us might say maybe. I say too much free time and idle hands! But, if you like to learn about things past, present and future with a healthy dose of fun, wine and education, one of Sickles’ tours will feed your desire for a laid back adventure.