FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WILMINGTON, Delaware – April is National Garden Month. As the colors of spring begin to appear across Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley, enjoy the warmer weather and change of seasons with a weekend tour of the region’s numerous botanical gardens.
Take a leisurely drive through the winding roads and rolling hills of Chateau Country to visit these Instagram-worthy sites, all within a short distance of one other.
Start the tour at Rockwood Park, just off I-95 in north Wilmington. Though not as well known as some of the area’s other gardens, the grounds surrounding the rural Gothic-style Rockwood Mansion are sublime. Explore the 72 acres of parkland including a six-acre formal garden. Unique features include a monkey puzzle tree (an unusual-looking evergreen native to Chile); a ha-ha (a sunken wall used to keep livestock away); and a stone from the Giant’s Causeway, a distinctive hexagonal rock formation along Ireland’s coast. An apothecary garden, filled with medicinal plants, was added in fall 2019.
Since the founding of the DuPont Company on the banks of the Brandywine Valley in 1802, the du Pont family has had a profound impact on Delaware. The family’s strong interest in horticultural preservation is reflected in the next five stops on the tour.
Hagley Museum & Library, less than two miles north of Gibraltar off Route 141, is the site of the original DuPont gunpowder mills. Its gardens are as much about function as they are about form. The estate, on the banks of the Brandywine River, is home to two very different restored gardens that date back to the 1800s: one that fed the du Pont family and another that fed company workers. A pollinator garden, new in 2020, attracts a variety of butterflies and bees.
Nemours Estate is approximately two miles up Route 141 from Hagley. Its French-style gardens, inspired by Versailles, are among the finest and largest of their kind in the U.S. There's a formal boxwood garden and a maze dominated by a sculpture gilded in 23-karat gold leaf. The one-acre reflecting pool features 157 jets and holds 800,000 gallons of water. Two gold leaf gates face each other across the garden. The Baroque-style Russian gate was acquired from a palace built by Catherine the Great. The English gate was once used at Wimbledon Manor. In addition to the formal gardens, there are family-friendly woodland walking trails to explore. Nemours opens for the season May 1.
Approximately five miles north of Nemours is Winterthur Museum & Gardens, off Route 52. Winterthur features 1,000 acres of rolling hills, streams, meadows and forests. A favorite of the young and young at heart is the fairytale-like Enchanted Woods. From the Faerie Cottage to the Tulip treehouse, it is a realm of fantasy. Another stand-out is the Marian Coffin-designed reflecting pool, a series of descending terraces and views ending in what was once the family swimming pool. From April into May, the Azalea Woods, with its thousands of Kurume azaleas and wildflowers weaved through the forest, is a must see.
Continuing north on Route 52, just over the Pennsylvania state line, is the nationally renowned Longwood Gardens. It is home to 11,000 varieties of plants spread across more than 1,000 acres of meadows, woodlands, and elaborate horticultural displays. In the four-acre conservatory, don’t miss the Wood’s Cycad. Called Longwood’s “King of the Conservatory,” this palm tree-like plant is extinct in nature and one of the rarest plants in the world. The gardens’ majestic fountains are another awe-inspiring feature. Major renovations were completed in May 2017, adding new water cannons to project spray high into the air as well as new sound, light, and synchronization features.
The final stop on the tour is Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Opened for general admission to the public in 2013, it is home to more than 1,000 native plants, many of which are threatened by extinction. On the gently rolling hills of the Delaware Piedmont, part of the Appalachian Mountain system, it consists of 630 acres of historic pastures, fields, ponds, native forests, a woodland wildflower garden, and formal landscapes. One notable feature is the trillium garden, containing every trillium species native to the eastern U.S.
The botanical gardens of Greater Wilmington and the Brandywine Valley are as varied as the region itself. From formal garden designs to wild meadows and forests filled with native plant life, a garden tour of the area is memorable way to welcome spring and celebrate National Garden Month. For more garden-themed attractions as well as restaurants, unique shopping, and accommodations to complete the trip, go to www.visitwilmingtonde.com.
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About the Region
Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley is in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region and less than a two-hour drive from both New York City and Washington. Steeped in American history and the legacy of the famed du Pont family, Greater Wilmington is a destination marked by sharp contrasts – town and garden, past and present, historic and hip. From renowned gardens, world-class museums, colonial towns, outdoor adventure, festivals and an ever-growing craft beer and restaurant scene, each experience is more vibrant, more unique and more authentic than the last. Learn more at VisitWilmingtonDE.com. And to see the beauty of the Brandywine Valley now, watch here.