Picture of winterthur While in the Baltimore area for the Preakness (which we do not have any pictures of) we spent one day in the Brandywine valley. The Brandywine river runs from west of Philadephia into Wilmington, Delaware and was home to several members of the wealthy duPont family. One of them, Henry duPont, went from collecting large estates to collecting Americana at one of them in particular. This home (seen here) is Winterthur which has since been extended to contain the truly vast amount of decorative arts inside. His goal was to collect period furnishings and decorations from every stage of American history. There are a wide variety of tours here some of which specialize in excrutiating detail in a single type of craft. We partook of the "highlights" tour which showed an interesting cross-section despite our somewhat overly opinionated tour guide. One key difference between Winterthur and other famous homes is that Winterthur is a museum, most of the rooms have never been lived in. As a result we felt it had sort of a textbook quality to it and wasn't quite as interesting in that sense. On the other hand if you're interested in a particular decorative art in American history, this is the definately the place to go.
Picture of wisteria Up the road and into Pennsylvania is another duPont attraction. Longwood Gardens (aka duPont Gardens) was created by Pierre duPont in the first half of the 20th century. Known for its spectacular fountain displays it has an impressive variety of formal gardens. Here Melanie stands in front of a Wisteria "tree". Wisteria is not actually solid enough to grow like this so these trees have been carefully pruned to grow around an iron framework of supports.
Picture of topiary The topiary garden is rather fanciful as well. Here we clearly have geometry run amok. It was misting light rain on and off during our visit or this would have been a fine place to relax on the lawn. There are also extensive indoor gardens.
Picture of lilacs Melanie's favorite flowering plant is lilac, so here is our obligatory lilac photo. Due to unexpected laziness, or someting, we have no photos of the rest of our trip. We drove back to Baltimore via the lovely rural Eastern shore of Maryland. We strongly discourage anyone from attempting to eat dinner in Annapolis on the weekend the Naval Academy graduates. We might also mention that the city markets in Baltimore close on Sundays so don't bother walking over there from the inner harbor. As a final note, we highly recommend the Brandywine Brewing Company in Wilmington, Delaware and Capital Brewing Co. in Baltimore (and other locations) as some fine microbreweries.
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