For the Birds

Winterthur is a wonderful place to go birding. This summer we began offering a monthly bird walk with naturalist and birder, Jessica Shahan. This has created new opportunities for our visitors to explore the Winterthur landscape and get to know the property. As part of this, Jessica has been using eBird to record her tallys – something you can take advantage of by loading the eBird app on your smart phone or by visiting the webpage

UPDATED Note that because of the holidays the walks have been scheduled for November 20 and December 18 starting at 9:00 am in the Visitor Parking Lot.

For the Birds: Birding Walks at Winterthur
Wednesdays, November 20 and December 18, 9:00–11:00 am – starting in Visitor Parking Lot

Explore some of the hotspots for birds at Winterthur. Naturalist and birder Jessica Shahan will guide you through wetlands, meadows, the woodlands along Clenny Run, and outlying areas, such as chandler Woods and Brown’s Woods. These natural areas provide a great habitat for a wide variety of birds year-round. Observe resident birds as well as migrating raptors, warblers, and sparrows. Beginner and experienced bird watchers are welcome. Bring your binoculars! $10 per Member. $20 per nonmember. Call 800.448.3883 to reserve a spot. Free for Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members.

We hope to see you out in the garden with your binoculars!

DelaWILD Is Almost Here!

Saturday, September 14, 2019, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Join us and celebrate nature at this family-friendly event!

The day’ activities will include talks, walks, family fun, and demonstrations for nature-lovers of all ages. The event will feature a presentation by Charlie Engelman, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and television host for National Geographic and former Winterthur garden intern. His television work, including the television show Weird but True currently in production of its’ second season, has taken him on many adventures but it all started at Winterthur when he filmed his first video about the frogs in Enchanted Woods.

Learn about our bluebird and kestrel programs at Winterthur with our natural lands team, how to create a garden for butterflies with Delaware Master Gardeners, and discover the watershed conservation and restoration work on the property on a walk with the Academy of Natural Sciences. Bring the kids to go on a vegetable garden discovery walk and test their veggie IQ with Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids, learn about the Jack A. Markell Trail and other trail projects with Delaware Greenways, and enjoy unique specimens and activities with the Delaware Museum of Natural History. Be sure to meet the Winterthur goats to learn how they help us with invasive control on the estate and read your way through the pages of Planting the Wild Garden and Over in the Meadow as you embark on two different Storybook Trails.

Click here ( for more information about DelaWILD.

The evening was a great success with a delightful tour by Jeff Groff. The food was creative and the drinks were refreshing – our compliments to our restaurant staff. Thanks to all who attended and especially to Jeff for his insights on estate history.

 Tailgate Tour set up at the Ottoman Tent Folly by the Quarry Garden
Waiting for our guests to arrive…

The Garden staff have come up with a new way to encourage our members and visitors to enjoy the garden – Tailgate Tours. Join us for an even walk through the garden and midway through the tour we will stop and have some refreshments and a little time for socializing. Last month we invited Carol Long, Curator of the Follies exhibition, to walk guests through the garden and to take a break at the Ottoman Tent Folly.

On July 10th, Jeff Groff our Estate Historian, will take visitors on a walk to the Armor Farm with a pleasant break at the reservoir. We hope this new program will encourage our guests to explore and will help them learn more about this wonderful estate. Details below…

Tailgate Tours – Exploring the Winterthur Estate
Join our staff for adventures in the Winterthur Garden and wider Estate. Learn about Winterthur’s history, design, and plants on these leisurely strolls through the estate then stop for some refreshments in picturesque locations to enjoy hors d’oeuvres along with curated selections of hard and soft beverages. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear walking shoes. In case of inclement weather, an update message will be left at 302.888.4915 approximately 3 hours before cancellation.

Wednesday, July 10, 5:30-7:00 – starts at Visitor Center
An American Place: Winterthur History with Estate Historian, Jeff Groff

Tuesday, August 13, 5:30-7:00 – starts at Visitor Center
Hydrangeas in Summer with Interpretive Horticulturist, Suzanne French

$30 members, $35 non-members, preregistration required; Tailgate Tours involve moderate walking. Proceeds from Garden & Estate Programs benefit Enchanted Woods.

To register for any Winterthur Garden programs, please call 800.448.3883 or 302.888.4600.

After the spring ephemerals in the woodlands fade, I like to turn my attention to the meadows for native seasonal blooms.  While the striking goldenrod and lush warm-season grasses won’t bolt and bloom until late summer, delicate flowers litter the cool-season grass sea.  The wet areas are especially colorful this time of year.  Time to put my botany degree to work!

The Pale-Spiked Lobelia (Lobelia spicata) forms spike-like racemes of petite, pale blue flowers.  The specific name, spicata, refers to the unbranched “spike” that rises from the ground.


Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) bears white flowers tinged with hints of lavender near its base.  This flower displays a resemblance to the popular garden Foxglove flower, hence the specific name of this plant (digitalis) is the same as the generic name of garden Foxglove.  Both genera, Penstemon and Digitalis, are in the Plantain family (Plataginaceae).



Contrary to its common name, Meadow Evening Primrose (Oenothera pilosella) is a day-flowering species of evening primrose.  Its specific name, pilosella, refers to the downy hair that covers the stem and leaves.








Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) is a cute perennial which is scattered throughout wet meadows and wetlands.  While not a true grass, it is in the iris family (Iridaceae).

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), as many people know, is a wonderful host plant for the monarch butterfly caterpillar, and also is a wonderful pollinator plant.


Fringed Loosestrife (Lysimachia ciliata) presents bowed flowers which bloom from the axils of the plant.  This lower growing plant only reaches about a foot or two, so keep your eyes peeled in the tall grass!


Winterthur boasts almost 900 acres of natural areas including several hundred acres of meadow.  If you feel up to a light hike, be sure to follow the yellow arrows through natural meadow, woodland, and wetland habitat!


Acres of Azaleas

In 1917, H.F. du Pont bought a few kurume azaleas, flowers unseen, from Cottage Gardens on Long Island. He had his staff propagate them and now hundreds of azlaeas are coloring the garden in whites, pinks, reds, and lavenders.

Exploring Stowe

We are very excited to be hosting a lecture on Saturday, April 20, on the famous English garden, Stowe. Matt Rader, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society will present, “Learning to See and Explore at Stowe” from 1:00–2:00 pm in the Copeland Lecture Hall. Matt will discuss his experiences learning to see the landscape as a young man at Stowe, the Capability Brown-designed landscape garden in Buckinghamshire, England. The lecture is $10 per Member. $20 per nonmember. Free for Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members. Purchase tickets online or call 800.448.3883.

Join us on Saturday, April 13, and celebrate the beauty of the daffodil while enjoying Winterthur’s amazing daffodil display!

Henry Francis du Pont used his collector’s eye in assembling his collection of hundreds of heirloom daffodil bulbs arranged in cloud-like drifts on Sycamore Hill. The day’s events will include tours, kids’ crafts, and a children’s daffodil show. Members free. Included with general admission.

The Day’s Schedule

10:00-11:00 Children’s Daffodil Show
Entries meet at the Brown Center with their daffodils – judging starts at 11:00

10:00-2:00 Daffodil Kids Activity at Brown Center

11:000  Follies Tour starts at Brown Center

1:00 & 3:00 Special Daffodil Tours start at the Visitor Center Patio

In addition, a self-guided Daffodil Tour starting at the Visitor Center, the Spring Tour through the house, the Costuming the Crown exhibit, and the self-guided Follies exhibit are available throughout the day. 


I learned a new word… kokedama is a Japanese word meaning ‘moss ball’ and is a creative way of growing specimen bulbs and other plants. Our Floral Coordinator, Heidi Militana, is going to show us all how to make one of these unique little bundles of plants in her new series on flower arranging called Garden to Vase. I am putting a link here to the signup and class information. The series of demonstrations kicks off this Wednesday with kokedama, and continues the first Wednesday of each month (from 5:30–8:30 pm) with a different flower arranging topic.

March Bank has the Blues

Today was overcast but the brilliant blue of the March Bank and daffodils brightened the day. Join us this weekend or coming week to enjoy the blues.

Saturday, March 9 – Lecture: 11:00 am, Copeland Lecture Hall (1 hour); Garden Tour: 1:00 pm, begin at Visitor Center Patio (90 minutes); Self-guided Tour of March Bank: all day, begin at Visitor Center Patio

Savill Gardens in December

Join us as the snow begins to melt and celebrate the early bulb display of the March Bank at Winterthur with a lecture, garden tours, and the spectacle of the March Bank in bloom. This year’s featured speaker John Anderson, Keeper of the Gardens at Windsor Great Park, will talk about his role as Keeper of the iconic Savill and Valley Gardens. Mr. Anderson will take us through the seasons, highlighting the remarkable plant collections and historical garden features, including the much-in-the-news garden at Frogmore. To purchase tickets, please call (800) 448- 3883. $10 members, $20 non-members, free for Winterthur Garden and Landscape Society and Garden Associate Members.

The Punch Bowl at Savill Gardens in the spring