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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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 Grand entryway to the Sunken Gardens is entirely unexpected and leads to final phase of the gardens.
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.
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.
On one side of the pond lies this fantastic bridge amidst a collection trees that together are stunning.
Every view of this area is lovely.
The gardens are designed so that the viewer can only take in one stage at a time.
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.
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.
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.
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
12:00pm & 3:00pm
And bring your walking shoes!
Britt : )
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