Nemours Mansion and Gardens

 

I am happily lured up to the Brandywine Valley along the Delaware-Pennsylvania border on a monthly basis.  Even in the middle of Winter there is plenty to see and do.  Aside from the amazing places to stay and great restaurants , the area is known for it’s stunning display gardens.  Nemours is just one of the famous estates and gardens you can find within this wonderful area.

Nemours Garden Avenue © Britt Conley

Nemours Garden Avenue © Britt Conley

Behind the locally famed, massive stone wall topped with long shards of broken jagged glass (an old and still pretty scary security system)  is Nemours.  Nemours needs more security than most gardens, after all it is full of grand architecture, statuary, and art.

The main gates to the house © Britt Conley

The main gates to the house © Britt Conley

Monumental 23-carat gold-leafed gates await the visitor at the inner sanctum of the house and its mansion’s view of  3,000 acres of fantastic gardens and woodlands.

Nemours © Britt Conley

Nemours © Britt Conley

The extravagant, 70 room Wilmington, Delaware mansion was built by Alfred L. Du Pont as a gift to his second wife Alicia.  The Mansion is just amazing!  I highly recommend a visit, however the tour itself is an exercise not for the faint of heart.  Erika (the brilliant assistant Photo Garden Bee) and I were plum tuckered from traipsing all over the house and property and we’re no couch potatoes.  But all the walking was well worth it and even more so for the chance to see Nemours’ grand gardens!

Avenue boat view © Britt Conley

Avenue boat view © Britt Conley

The main Gardens encompass a half-mile long swath of formally designed landscaping based on Versailles’ Petit Trianon.  The view is unbelievably grand.  We couldn’t wait to head down there.

A maze of pathways © Britt Conley

A maze of pathways © Britt Conley

Central to the half mile long avenue of formal gardens is this parterre garden which incorporates wonderfully spiraling gravel pathways bordered by decorative green grass, Japanese Barberry and brilliant red flowers.  The entire garden area is flanked by  Spring Grove.  In the center of the garden is a 23-carat gold leafed statue by Henri Crenier of Achievement.

The Main Pool complete with boat © Britt Conley

The Main Pool complete with boat © Britt Conley

One of the great architectural elements in this view is the immense one-acre pool centered by a fountain.  According to Nemours, “The 157 jets at the center of the one-acre pool shoot water 12 feet into the air; when they are turned off, the entire “Long Walk” is reflected” in the water which is ” five and a half feet deep in its deepest section, holds 800,000 gallons of water and takes three days to fill.”

The Grand Pool in the center of the garden landscape © Britt Conley

The Grand Pool in the center of the garden landscape © Britt Conley

But this isn’t the only spectacular water element her at Nemours.  Just behind this terrace there is the final length of the avenue  landscape and an entire sunken garden to enjoy.

The Veranda before the Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

The Veranda before the Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

The Grand entryway to the Sunken Gardens is entirely unexpected and leads to final phase of the gardens.

The Sunken Garden fountain © Britt Conley

The Sunken Garden fountain © Britt Conley

The entirety of this last garden area is actually elevated at an angle so that Alfred du Pont’s guests could see it’s grandure more fully.

The Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

The Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

What isn’t expected is the lovely grand pond that is obscured in the photo above.  Like the pool, it’s size is a surprise and it’s mirror qualities add an entirely new dimension to the space.

The Pond in the Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

The Pond in the Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

On one side of the pond lies this fantastic bridge amidst a collection trees that together are stunning.

This bridge © Britt Conley

This bridge © Britt Conley

Every view of this area is lovely.

The Bridge © Britt Conley

The Bridge © Britt Conley

The gardens are designed so that the viewer can only take in one stage at a time.

The Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

The Sunken Garden © Britt Conley

At the very end of the avenue rests a classical temple (seen below) with a life-sized statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

The long final stretch © Britt Conley

The long final stretch © Britt Conley

There is so much more here to see and the statuary alone is worth a visit.  A collection of flower baskets can be seed throughout.

Flora and Statuary © Britt Conley

Flora and Statuary © Britt Conley

I have to say, Neumours is one of those places that demands repeat visits.  They only let visitors spend a short time in the gardens.  The visits are timed and they are very good about keeping every wide-eyed wanderer accounted for.  It took us 45 minutes to walk the avenue and then it was time to be picked up and taken back to the visitor’s center by bus.

The next time I do go to Neumours, I’ll be spending more time at this lovely maze garden on the far side of the property.

The Boxwood Garden © Britt Conley

The Boxwood Garden © Britt Conley

To plan your own journey to Neumours visit http://www.nemoursmansion.org

You must have a reservation and the waiting list can be weeks.  Do plan ahead and be sue to be on time.  This operation is run like clockwork.  The Mansion and Grounds are closed from December 31st, 2009 – April 30th, 2010.  But once Spring comes the regular tour days & times are as follows:

Tuesday – Saturday
9:00am, 12:00pm, & 3:00pm
Sunday
12:00pm & 3:00pm

And bring your walking shoes!

Til Tomorrow…

Britt : )

Related posts:

  1. Part V: Brookside Gardens’ Garden of Lights!
  2. The Chairs of Longwood Gardens
  3. Part II: Longwood’s Water Gardens
  4. Part VII: GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens!
  5. Orchids: A Cultural Odyssey on view now at The U.S. Botanic Gardens

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3 Comments

 
  1. Melissa
    2010-01-25
    11:01:30

    Great photos, Britt! (As always.) Thanks for the heads-up about limited time to stroll the gardens, especially for those of us who are photographers. And it sounds like a tripod would really slow you down. This is when I wished I lived in the Brandywine Valley area!

     
  2. Diana
    2010-01-25
    16:26:14

    Thank you for the tour and the beautiful photos. It has been ages since we were back in that area, but I do love that area and the Brandywine Museum and A. Wyeth's home. Inspiration!

     
  3. alan
    2015-02-17
    02:31:36

    The broken glass on top of the wall at Nemours was added there by Alfred I. Dupont as a way of signifying his mutual dislike for Pierre Dupont and that side of the family. They disapproved sternly with his choice of his second wife.

     
 

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