Saturday, August 06, 2011

Random Pictures from a Birthday

I got it in my head that I really really wanted to see Longwood Gardens again. Ekim and I enjoyed the place back when we were dating, and were back once more around the holidays a couple years later (the conservatory decked out with poincettias was memorable), so it seemed time to go back again. We were lucky with the weather; it wasn't heatwave hot as it's been so recently, nor raining, which it will definitely do today.

This was the first time I'd bothered to notice just how Pierre du Pont became rich enough to buy this land in 1906 and build this Versailles-inspired paradise: Pierre and his cousin Francis Gurney du Pont developed the first American smokeless gunpowder in 1892. (Pierre had a degree in chemistry from MIT.) The DuPont company was founded in 1802, well before Pierre was born, so the gunpowder development was simply--more money.

It is obvious that Pierre du Pont was more interested in gardening and botany than chemistry, but he was also into music. That's another aspect of his estate that I'd forgotten about: he had a magnificent Steinway grand player piano. It cost over $3000 in 1928. (Depression? What's that?) It sounds beautiful. I could listen all day...Pierre liked it so much that he ordered a second one a year later.

My pictures do not do Longwood Gardens justice, and furthermore, the most spectacular views are to be had in the springtime, not summer. Well, maybe not this year, since our weather has been so difficult. Anyway, when it comes to beautiful plants, Ekim and I did acknowledge that we've become rather jaded, after all those trips to Mexico. And yet--it takes real talent to grow such beautiful gardens here. In contrast, the groundskeepers in the Riviera Maya region must work nonstop to keep stuff cut back, the better to see it all.

Ah, all those fountains going, with a slight breeze, gave us a pleasant spritzing. From all the old pictures in the du Pont house (which I forgot to take a picture of), I gather that the du Pont kids used to play in the fountains. IN the fountains. All of them. Good times...growing up must have been rough!

And now I still have the weekend to enjoy. It's okay if it rains, the time to laze around is such luxury. Have a relaxing weekend, everyone!


TLP said...

Your pictures are lovely! I do love that place. Lots and lots of beauty at every turn.

I guess you remember going there as a kid, but do you remember the Los Angeles Arboretum? You kids had lots of fun there too.

Quack Birder said...

Nice pictures! I almost forgot how pretty that place was....

actonbell said...

Mom,I do remember the Arboretum, but as I was telling Mike, I didn't pay such close attention to plants in those days, just overall scenery. The Arboretum taught me what peacocks where.

Lara, it's a really nice place to walk around in.

Doug said...

Very refined.

It looks like a great day and you deserve it.

Nath, the Arboretum is great and I still don't pay close attention to plants. Peacocks on the other hand...

Bone said...

That'd be a fine place to put a golf course :)

It's always nice to be outside in a well-landscaped area.