Maggie Lidz, Winterthur’s estate historian, writes:
When the du Pont family lived at Winterthur, between 1839-1969, September was a time for harvesting the food crops and getting the garden in order for next year. Rain or the lack of it is of major concern. The transition of summer to fall seemed to be a natural time for reassessment and nostalgia.
The Winterthur garden September 19, 1910
September 1875, Louisa Gerhard du Pont explained to her son Henry Algernon, traveling in Europe on his honeymoon, all she has had the gardeners do at Winterthur to get the garden in shape for his and his bride’s return in the next spring: You will have a supply of ordinary winter vegetables. The strawberry beds have just been planted …and the ground is ready for raspberries this fall as soon as the leaves drop from the plants. The asparagus bed is in good condition, planted last spring. Also some dwarf fruit trees & we have good grape vines well started for this fall. Willie would have had more fruit trees planted last Spring but we thought it better to wait & see what you thought of localities, etc. The old forcing house in the garden is to be put in order so that Pauline may have some flowers this winter. (Quoted in Wilkinson, EI du Pont Botaniste, p. 102.)
Sept. 4, 1941, H. F. du Pont wrote to his sister Louise: We have had some rain, so the country looks greener again. (Winterthur Archives, HF 282)
Sept 4, 1941, H. F. du Pont to John Magee: Our peaches, grapes and nectarines from the place here are delicious now, (Winterthur Archives, HF 351)
Sept. 11, 1931, H. F. du Pont to his sister Louise: Things are beautiful in Delaware, though it has been terribly hot the past two days. Marian Coffin has just been down to see the results of her work, and it has been a very successful trip. (Winterthur Archives, HF 282)
Sept. 18, 1852, Evelina du Pont to Camille and James: Tell Gabrielle and Marguerite there are some pretty blue & red Lobelia in their garden that grew from seed & some astors. Their Grand Father showed me this morning some specimens of a new kind of corn he had planted, and as I saw the large ears & the large grains I thought how much our dear little girls would like to shell them, and when I go to the orchard I wish for Gabrielle to help me. There is now a fine sickle pear tree. I am watching to take them in when ripe enough. How she would have helped her Grand Father to gather the apples in the orchard as she did already two years ago. (Hagley)
Sept. 19, 1875, Henry du Pont to Henry Algernon du Pont: Things are getting pretty much done up at Winterthur–the house is getting scrubbed from top to bottom & it is a big operation and so many and so many numbers have been working there for some two months or more. I was sorry Pauline did not express her wish for a cooking stove sooner as Ma thought a range?..I have had it put in. Everything about the house pretty much done. … all that is to be done now is refurbishing the forcing house in the garden & putting up the new tool house.
Sept. 20, 1954, H. F. du Pont to Marian Coffin: I am moving some huge lilac species to the Philadelphus [mock orange] Hill [now Sycamore Hill], so when the azaleas are all over by the third week in May, the [lilacs and] Philadelphus will make a good showing. (Winterthur Archives, Marian Coffin papers)
Sept. 22, 1937 H. F. du Pont to Mrs. Stephen Etnier: I was born here and I get more enthusiastic each year about every portion of the grounds and house. ..Living here all year round I always try to have flowers that bloom the very earliest and the very latest. In fact, on the terrace near my house there is always a flower blooming each month of the year. (Winterthur Archives, HF 561)
September 24, 1912, William Reupke, head gardener at Winterthur wrote to HF du Pont, Grapes are gone, they all dried up. Corn and lima beans and peas are plentiful. Mr. Chapple fixing ghte walks. The weather is cold and rainy. It has been raining for 3 days. (Winterthur Archives, HF 647)
Sept 29 1863, Antoine Bidermann to Charles I. du Pont, after leaving Winterthur as a blind widower to live with his children in France: About the garden: as the gardener is going to leave at the end of the year. I do no tlike the idea o fleaving the garden and grounds in utter neglect and the other side it would be hard to pay for the keeping of what would be of no use or enjoyment to me. I think there might be an agreement made with some person who would engage to keep the garden and grounds in order and find the manure for the farmer in consideration of getting it and the gate house rent free. Hagley: Bidermann, 6-B-17
Sept. 29 1878, Sophie du Pont to Camille Bidermann: Henri [Algernon] has made a lot of changes around the outside of the house, but with the most exquisite taste, conserving as much as possible the mementos of his uncle and aunt that he loved and whose memory he reveres. The changes were those that were made necessary by time. . . I see from my window the place where Gabrielle and Marguerite had their little gardens. Now they are full of heliotropes and other beautiful flowers. They brought me here through the path of lily of the valley, those delicious little flowers have become so much more wide spread that in the spring they cover half the woods. The pink rhododendron that your father planted has grown very large and flowers very well, the white lilacs that climb under my windows are half way up the wall. Henry and Pauline love the flowers so much that they arrange them in pots on both sides of the door like your mother did with hers. Henry first of all wanted to have that his aunt Lina loved and cultivated here. And he has collected with care clippings of those we would like to conserve in our greenhouse because they came from here.
Yesterday he had me taken to the garden and around the house and I was enchanted by all and I was touched by the affection he has by the affection he has for our beloved dead. Since James and his family the place could not have fallen into better hands. It is astonishing that after having been neglected so many years that there are still in the garden so many old flowers. I’ve dined several times on cooked apples, the fruit of a tree in the garden. I was so tired to come here and then from my walk in my portable chair yesterday that I haven’t been able to walk very much in the house. (Hagley, Acc. 761 box 17)
Sept. 29, 1941 H. F. du Pont to Bert Ives: We have had the most beautiful six weeks, but as there has not been a drop of rain, we are really having a great drought and everything is suffering for the want of water. Winterthur Archives, HF 338)