Learning about each of these glorious Du Pont estates and their wealthy heirs is like a history lesson in alphabet soup as each prominent member of the Du Pont family was often referred to by just his first and middle initials. There was P.S.; H.F.; A.I; S.F., H.A.; E.I., and on it goes. It kind of makes you want to sing “Old McDuPont Had a Farm, E.I., E.I. O.” But seriously folks, the Du Pont family gave us much to be thankful for…magnificent country estates, ornate gardens, fine collections of American antiques, and a legacy of industrial heritage.
While I’m going to share the highlights of this particular sense savvy trip, the main point I want to convey is that sensational vacations await you within a short distance from your home. At just 100 miles from my house, this getaway qualifies as a “staycation” for me. I’ve traveled quite a bit domestically and abroad, and these attractions stand up to some of the most beautiful places on Earth that I’ve seen. While I really hope that you can visit Longwood and Winterthur, my purpose is to inspire you to take advantage of the sensory delights that await you at local arboretums, museums, parks, and natural preserves just over the river and through the woods from your home.
Day 1 (half day) – Longwood Gardens:
We arrived at Longwood Gardens at noon, and departed the grounds at 10:30pm through the gift shop with a hole burning in our wallet and the doors slamming behind us. You could easily spend a couple of days at Longwood’s 1,000+ acres, but all you really need to soak up its spectacular sights is a half a day and a whole lot of stamina. This is just a snip-it of the Sense Savvy stuff you’ll encounter at Longwood:
1. Head out toward the Northeast corner of the property to hike the 1-mile loop around the Meadow where you’ll be greeted by a great open sky, wildflowers, and field-dwelling creatures of all kinds, especially butterflies and birds.
|Treehugging at Lookout Loft|
3. Take a stroll down the rolling hill to the Italian Water Garden, and you’ll think you’ve just arrived in Florence. The running waters could lull you into a trance, but the striking beauty of the sculptures will shock you back to consciousness.
4. Drift away from “Italy”, and make your way up the Hillside Garden to the Eye of Water, an extraordinary circular fountain which appears to “cry” gallons of tears its “eyeball”. You have to you to see it to believe it.
|Ellen, Me, and Mom in the Idea Garden|
6. Rest for a moment with your Ideas, then venture into the Conservatory - a mini-Universe unto itself. Amongst the many greenhouse environments, you’ll travel to a rainforest, trek through an arid desert, daydream in an orchid-lovers paradise, and voyage into a two-story hall of distinct and towering palm trees – you’ll think you’ve dropped on to the set of Jurassic Park.
7. Making the Conservatory extra Sense Savvy throughout this fall is the exhibit “Making Scents – The Art and Passion of Fragrance”. Prior to your tour, pick up your Scent Seekers journal from the gift shop, and throughout the Conservatory, look for 10 scent adventures where you’ll “meet” a professional from a different time and place. Learn how they used their nose everyday – Explorer, Pharaoh, Rose Rustler, Perfumer, Chemist, Biologist, and more! Sniffing along the way, evoke your own memories of place, emotion, food and taste.
8. Once you’ve earned your Certified Nose, depart the Conservatory out to the Waterlily Display. Prepare yourself to be tickled pink by colorful poufs of flora sprouting from the pond in between the pads. And, if can stay at Longwood beyond sunset, go back to the pond again to delight in the night-blooming tropical water lilies. It is so cool! See the picture at the end of the blog.
|Chorizo Slider w/ Tomato Gazpacho|
10. Last, but not least, run off your meal on the way to the Musical Illuminated Fountain Show held on summer weekend evenings at the Main Fountain Garden, featuring classical, patriotic, and popular music. The theme of our evening was “A Night at the Movies”, and for thirty fabulous minutes, we enjoyed vivid jets of colorful water dancing through the air to the soundtracks of Superman, The Empire Strikes Back, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars. And, that was the perfect end to the most perfect day as my sister and I felt like Superheroes for taking our mother on such a tremendous trip.
|Night-blooming Water Lily|