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In-Between

Recent walks on the Winterthur Estate have proven to me the subtle variation of winter’s beauty, often vacillating between two different poles in the blink of an eye. Here are sights from two of those walks.

A gentle snow was falling as I traipsed beside the reservoir near Armour Farm in late January. A patch of still-standing grasses and weeds drew my eye, like a new world in its dusting of white. The view over the water towards the woods gave glimpses of future walks, the snow illuminating pathways yet to be explored. A flock of Canada geese soon wrested my attention from the land: how fun to watch these hardy creatures paddle their way in the open places, waddle through the slushy margin of ice, and stand tall and proud upon the frozen surface of the pond! A sudden movement along the shore (did I step on a twig?), and the geese took off into a third element, leaving behind in their flight two lone, bewildered birds.

Only a few days later, as the month skipped into February, my ramble in the Old Cutting Garden area introduced colorful fireworks of just-blooming witchhazels. The blossoms were the complete inverse of the brown, dreary edge of the field where I walked. Two very old shrubs (probably different varieties of Hamamelis x intermedia) put forth blooms in hues of crisp yellow and golden yellow-orange. How lovely the flowers against the blue sky! With eyes upward, I noticed yet another “flower” — the dried remains of tulip-tree flowers. Their little cups reminded me of their namesake flowers, which will burst into full color in only a couple more months.

Week 7 of the Folly Frenzy Countdown! Featuring: the Chinese Pavilion.

I am very fortunate to have been able to do some folly reconnaissance in England two summers ago. It was a whirlwind tour of 18 gardens in 16 days and it was pure heaven! All but 2 of the gardens featured at least one folly while five of the gardens were devoted primarily to follies in the landscape. One of those such gardens was Stowe Landscape Garden in Buckinghamshire.

One important and historic folly that we wanted to replicate for our exhibition was the Chinese House at Stowe. Built in 1738, it is folly with historic relevance and to an historic garden attached to a museum of American decorative arts, that is a win-win!

Overall photo of the Chinese House at Stowe. Filled with detail!

This folly is an example of Chinoiserie, or the European interpretation and imitation of Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions. A folly of this age has also seen some sights; originally, sited in water, it moved around in England and Ireland to return to Stowe in a new location, restored…, and now has moved, in spirit, to the US for an even more western interpretation of its design.

Close up of a painting with the Chinese House (in water) in the background.

After copious documentation of the Chinese House (photos, drawings and measurements), we approached Rob McKeown of Elk Creek Cabinetry to see if he wanted to recreate this folly and Rob was up for the task! So as Rob was busy building the structure, we had to come up with how to decorate it. The original folly is embellished with hand painted pictures, evoking the look of Chinese paintings on glass. We knew that we could not replicate that artistic talent but used some techniques implemented by our exhibitions team to create the effect that we desired.

And so it begins…framing of the folly base.


Unfinished lattice.


Finished lattice and interior paint colors.

A template was created of the placement of the paintings on the original folly and then we looked within our own amazing collection for inspiration and found it. The outside images are taken from scenes in the late 18th century, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper in the Chinese Parlor, and the interior is wallpaper from the Port Royal Entrance Hall.

The Chinese Wallpaper in the Chinese Parlor.


Nat Caccamo with paint swatches against the wallpaper in the Port Royal Entrance.

High quality, close up photography was taken of images of the Chinese wallpaper that could be used in our interpretation of the exterior paintings. The interior of the Chinese House was less distinctive and appeared to not have been fully restored so we opted to draw inspiration yet again from our own collection and replicate the wallpaper in Port Royal Entrance Hall, but still use the molding pattern from the interior of the Chinese House. All of the photographs are then placed on weather resistant, 21st century materials. Where science and art meet.

Template for an exterior wall using images from the Chinese Wallpaper.


Template for the interior back wall using images of the wallpaper from the Port Royal Entrance

The designs on the exterior molding of the original folly were all done in free hand. We replicated the “dot molding” as we ended up calling it, by Rob routing out the molding and painting it to create the outer lines followed by me “going to my happy place” while stenciling dots.

One…..


Dot molding complete and no, I wasn’t seeing spots!

The ribbon molding (as we refer to it on the original) went beyond our stenciling expertise and after much consternation, we came to the conclusion that this is our interpretation of the Chinese House and since we were changing other aspects of the original design, why not that? Again, the solution was the routing out and painting of molding to create another complimentary repeat pattern.

Close up of molding details. “Dot and Ribbon Molding” as we refer to it.

Unlike many of the other follies which are being built in situ, this folly was created off site in two different locations; the base in a barn and the roof in Rob’s driveway (Did I mention he has a patient wife?)

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Folly with Christmas lights!

Delivery day came and the follies made a trek from their locations, up I-95 to the West Side of the Galleries. Can you imagine the quizzical looks as drivers passed this on the highway? The next day, a crane came on site to place the two pieces together.

Base of the folly being delivered on site.


Crane placement of the base of the folly with the roof waiting in the foreground.

The stylized dolphin finials on the original were changed again to a more Winterthur-style aesthetic, the Hippocampus. The current Hippocampus in the Reflecting Pool was replicated from the original lead sculpture that sustained damage over the years. We reused the mold and with the help of objects conservator Adam Jenkins, a graduate of the Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, two new lightweight, gold-tone finials were born!

Hippocampus mold off to make us some finials!


Unpainted Hippocampus getting fitted for attachment brackets.


A viewpoint that most won’t see.


Hippocampus in their new home!

As of this writing, the interior wallpaper and exterior pictures await installment and the final touch will be the Chinese calligraphy on the red side panels of the exterior. We are working on the content so brush up on your Chinese characters to see what it says!

If you haven’t caught folly fever yet, that’s ok, there is still time. You saw how Rob strung lights on the roof of the Chinese Folly and folly fever even worked its way into our gingerbread contest at Yuletide…who knows how it might inspire you.

The Chinese House served as an inspiration for our Yuletide gingerbread contest!

We have entered the countdown to the April 1st opening of the Winterthur Garden’s first outdoor exhibition, Follies: Architectural Whimsy in the Garden. It has been a day that I have been dreading for a while but as it moves ever so closer, the anxiety has lessened, being replaced by a mix of anticipation and adrenaline and, on April 2nd, a chance to catch my breath.

As with all construction, some follies are ahead of schedule, some are behind, but all are progressing forward and for that, I am thankful. So, to get this “folly train” movin’, in true countdown form, a new folly will be featured each week, which will take us to the week of March 18th, and the week preceding the opening, March 25th, we’ll feature the reason behind this exhibition; our own historic follies. I will start with the folly that is closest to completion but will intentionally leave out some of the finishing elements because, well, they are not all finished but also to entice you to come in and see the follies for yourself.

I will start the folly-frenzy countdown with the Green Folly. This is a concept that we swirled around in our heads for a while; what would this folly be? In the conceptual phase, we spoke of this folly reflecting the garden yet it took a trip to England to come up with the bones of this folly. It was a visit to Prince Charles’ garden Highgrove that a spark ignited our Green Folly imagination.

Folly at Highgrove that served as inspiration for our own.

The appeal of this folly, for me, was the use of the massive tree trunks as the pillars holding up the roof. Anyone who has walked the Winterthur Garden and wider estate marvels at the size of our trees and in fact, we have several state champions on our property. Trees are both the bones and the soul of the Winterthur Garden and this Highgrove folly captures the grandeur of trees.

Bringing the concept back home and flushing out some details, we came up with the framework of our green folly. For the pillars, we chose to go with a tree that is throughout the property: American beech. The smooth, grey bark contrasts the darker, furrowed bark of other species in our forests and no trunk flair is as consistently dramatic as beech. For the roof, we could have gone with thatch but we already have two thatched roofs in Enchanted Woods. Cedar shingles are used on two of our featured historic follies, the Umbrella Seat and the Bristol Summerhouse, but we don’t have any bundled twigs featured anywhere…so in came that idea.
Free-form furniture and wall options were inspired by a trip to West Dean and also by Martha Stewart! (Sorry West Dean, but Martha won.)

Seating and wall at a folly at West Dean.


Original wall inspiration courtesy of Martha Stewart.

We approached Hugh Lofting Timber Framing with the concept of helping us build the folly. Over 40 years in the business, they never have built something quite like this. They accepted the challenge so our arborists scouted the grounds, looking for trees with the right dimensions and evenly-flared trunks that were also easily accessible for removal by a crane. Brandywine Tree and Shrub had all the right equipment to gently remove the trees and move them to the location.

Skillful cutting of the beech.


Setting of the two front pillars. Not your average timber framing project!


Months of planning got executed in 2 weeks, from cut to assemble, to create the bones of the folly in time for Truck and Tractor Day. We did not want to miss that opportunity to whet the folly appetite at that event!

Green Folly structure completed. Now for embellishments.

At the completion of the timber framing, we decided to not fully “twig” the roof but leave the top portion open to look at the canopy above and the wonderful pattern of the framing. A decision inspired by the moment.

Roof design highlighting canopy. Too pretty to cover completely.


Illuminated at Winterthur After Hours.

Branches from the removals were piled in our fields. The original thought was to use bundled branches without leaves but the removals occurred while in full leaf and true to beech, the leaves persisted. That would be a lot of leaves to remove by hand…and beggars can’t be choosers so the design changed to include leaves on the twigs! Those piles were sorted and then later bundled.

Branch sorting begins…

A sidebar of this story, Enchanted Woods had a lot of improvements this past year: the installation of a new hand pump and plumbing, reworking of the stone pathways, replacement of the exposed timbers on the Faerie Cottage and some thatching repairs. Fortunately, for me, the thatching was the last to occur and William Cahill extended his stay to help in our “twiggery” (our made up name for twig roofing!) We placed grapevine and bittersweet vine down as the “rafters” and then attached the bundled twigs (with leaves) to it.

Twisted vine rafters.

A piece of braided vine did not make it to the rafters but instead comes out of a stump and provides the illusion that the rafters stem from this living connection to the ground. Again, some decisions made in the creative process.

“Living vine” sprouting from a tree stump.

In conversations with architect Bob Grove and engineer Gary Gredell, both involved in the follies exhibition, the cut-disk wall idea morphed into stacked wood. I think it came by a very practical observation of my description that the wall would be made of disks that looked like stacked wood. The response was simply, “why don’t you just make it out of stacked wood?”

Brilliant!

The seat design evolved with the stacked wall idea, with two pieces of the wall being longer, forming a cantilevered seat. Then came, “Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a window in the wall?” Enter blacksmith Seth Barchowsky who created the oval framework (embellished with leaves) for the window.
Oh, did I mention that the wood for the wall came from river birch trees removed earlier in the year from my property? At the time of their removals, I was not sure how or if we would use the logs but I figured that the ornamental bark of the birch logs had folly potential.
As of this writing, the wall is not yet completed but one can get a picture of what it will look like.

Cut wood for walls and vines for rafters, courtesy of our arborists!

A not yet finished wall and seat prototype.

The finial is the last piece to go on. We approached Ron Brown, who turns bowls from Winterthur wood for our gift shop, to turn a piece for us. (check out his work in our Clenny Run Museum Store!) We chose an urn whose contents we could alter seasonally to reflect the changes in the garden.

Finial turned from Winterthur wood.


As you can see, there have been many hands involved in the creation of this folly: in all of our follies, really. Each person who has been involved has had a bit of a twinkle in the eye about their particular part in its creation. A collaboration of professionals and craftsmen with years of experience, but not on a project quite like this. The construction of each folly brings out the kid in us and that unbridled imagination is just the inspiration that is needed to create these whimsical structures.

ome say that the word January derives from the name of the Roman god Janus—god of doorways and doubles, beginnings and endings. Known for its dual countenance, one face looking backward and the other forward, the image is an appropriate one as we pause momentarily on the verge of a New Year, both to reminisce and to dream.

As we say goodbye to 2017 and welcome in the New Year, it seems fitting to reflect on an outdoor exhibit that the Garden Department recently contributed to Winterthur’s now-completed Yuletide season. Called Winter Doors, the exhibit featured doors from days gone by installed alongside other existing doorways in the Greenhouse Area, all of which were decorated by staff on the theme of “Treasures from the Winterthur Garden.” The following Yuletide greeting depicts highlights from that exhibit.

By giving staff members a blank canvas, each door opened up an opportunity to share something special about Winterthur, gardening, and nature as a whole. Decorations crafted mostly from plant materials highlighted Winterthur’s beautiful tree canopy, lush meadows, diverse conifer collection, and renowned children’s garden, to name a few subjects. One notable door was decked out entirely with garden tools, while another displayed a Christmas tree covered tip to base with natural materials.

As the creator of one of those doors, I will now offer a little behind-the-scenes peek at the creative process, in hopes of sparking future creations.

My door was a tribute to iconic examples of garden ornament at Winterthur. Among them are the much-loved Hippocampus (half horse, half fish) in the Reflecting Pool; the central Sundial in its namesake garden, the Sundial Garden; and two stately Iron Lily urns, also in the Sundial Garden.

Hippocampus (photo by Bob Leitch)

Lantern slide, c. 1922-1925, showing Sundial in its original location, the now-lost formal flower garden of Mr. du Pont (W.C. Spruance Lantern Slide Collection, 1984.217, Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE)

Iron Lily urn, one of two (photo by the author)

Now the challenge: How to re-create all of them using natural materials?!

The fish tail of the Hippocampus immediately brought to mind scales of pinecones, perhaps glistening with pine pitch. The horse’s head? How about the muscular looking shards of exfoliated black locust bark littering my front lawn!

Himalayan pinecone scales and pieces of fertile fern fronds comprise the Hippocampus’s fish tail

Black locust bark, lightly mottled with lichen, and the hairlike strands of male dawn redwood cones comprise the horse’s head of the Hippocampus

Head and tail united

Hippocampus swag in situ

The Sundial and its ornate perch required further thought. Grapevine soon presented itself as the perfect raw material for spinning this celestial orb, while acorn caps and female dawn redwood cones (among other things) provided a tapestry of sculptural forms for the base.

Grapevine “Sundial” wreath atop decorative base

Detail of the Sundial’s base showing acorn caps, female dawn redwood cones, milkweed pods, fertile fern fronds, and lichen-encrusted bark

Finally, the Iron Lilies: How to make flowers from the leftover materials of winter? Suddenly an abundance of dried okra pods, remnants from the summer’s Kids Grow! garden, became useful. Who would have thought that an okra pod, when split along its ridges, could be coaxed into a lily-like shape, complete with central “stamens?” Provided with picks and floral tape, the okra pods could then be made to appear as if emerging from the tulip poplar branches that I collected from the woods. A coat of rough-finish, iron-black spray paint completed the job.

Okra pods in various stages of becoming “lilies” (albeit only 5 petaled!)

Branches of “iron lilies” frame the door

The completed door showing Iron Lily urns, generous containers filled with mixed evergreens and branches of okra-blooming branches

Happy New Year to you all! Through the wonders of today’s digital technology, I will close with a tribute to Janus…Winterthur-style!

Hippo-Janus: A Janus-inspired version of Winterthur’s Hippocampus

Experiment 50

As Winterthur’s horticulture staff brave the freezing temperatures, here is a welcome tribute to something that happened at our main department office (“Building 50”) during the steamy days of summer. Many thanks to this blog post’s author Natalie Duerr, former Garden & Estate Intern and currently a landscape architecture major at Penn State. Can’t wait until spring to see more of the results of her inspired “experiment”!

2017 Interns in front of Building 50 (Natalie second from right, Rachel second from left)

 

Why I Wanted To Take On This Project

I feel the best way to learn is by doing. It’s my last name: I am a Duerr. I saw an opportunity to improve my understandings and skills in landscape architecture, and I took it with excitement. I was so excited to plan, design, and implement the whole project. It feels really good to complete a project for which I had so much ambition. I also wanted to confirm that I was in the right major and that I would be successful. This project was a big commitment for only having one hour a day, but with the help of some other interns, it came to life. I can’t thank Rachel enough for helping every single day, rain or shine.

The name comes from the idea that I was doing an experiment. I was testing out different things, testing my love for my major, and testing how well I could remodel this site. “Experiment 50” is my first real and completed landscape architecture project.

What We Did

Before designing, it is important to do site analysis. Our conclusions after observing the areas and talking to the horticulturalists were that there was heavy rainfall/snowfall from the roof and that sometimes there were tables set up outside for gatherings. Rachel and I took this information and accommodated each space to fit its needs.

Prior to demolition, Rachel and I decided to create a plan that would be simple, low maintenance, and most of all pretty. Although most of it was planning on a day-by-day schedule, the end goal was to create a rain garden and a lunch space.

The rain garden just sort of happened. We asked the horticulturalists if it was okay to take out the lilac tree in front of Carol’s team’s office, and they gave us the go. Without the lilac tree, a nice rectangular space opened up where we placed a variety of plants that Carol brought in. Then, we replaced some of the Solomon’s Seal with Astilbe that Amy had dug up from her area. This garden was really a collaboration between interns and horticulturalists.

The lunch area required multiple treatments of weed killer and multiple rounds of mowing. We weeded the surrounding area and sprayed the poison ivy. After that there was some heavy lifting to place in tables and chairs (and even a small fairy door!).

The site

Building 50 (minus lilac tree!)

Goodbye!

The new rain garden

Another view

Before: Huge hosta!

After: Sweeps of Solomon’s seal

Before and After: The lunch area

Whimsical addition: A fairy door!

Conflicts and Challenges

Our biggest challenge for the rain garden was the shallow soil. Building 50 is on a platform, which means that soil needs to be manually brought in and that it can only hold so much.

The lunch area was much different because of its existing nature. It was easy to mow, spray, and repeat. However, to really make this area come alive, we had to weed and weed and weed.

Despite having two areas of work, other little problems also came up along the way. The Hosta had finished blooming, so there was a day spent deadheading. Some days were focused on thinning out other plants. Other days were spent simply talking with horticulturalists on what we could do next or what they wanted for the space. As a designer, it is important to design for an audience, not just yourself.

Then, nature itself is always a challenge. There were a lot of spots of poison ivy, but we also got stung by bees. The heat and humidity challenged our physical strength and determined how tired we were at the end of the day.

Some of the challenges…

Concluding Thoughts

Being an intern at Winterthur means pushing yourself to learn more and also to do more. This internship is not just weeding, pruning, and planting. Every day I was challenged to learn something new. The way plants interact with the environment is sometimes ignored in landscape architecture, so it was both valuable and interesting to learn what types of plants work best in different areas. It also taught me a lot of plant names, which already makes me ahead of my classmates. The garden staff has such a vast knowledge of horticulture, which they love to share and which helps the interns grow in their knowledge. This project was fun to take on not only because I love landscape architecture, but also because I was able to use the new skills I had learned from my colleagues. There has been a drastic change in the way I design, and I use everything I’ve learned from Winterthur almost every day.

As we celebrate today’s opening of the Yuletide season, here is a backward glance to this past summer and the fascinating work that was happening on one of Winterthur’s most iconic trees — the famous “Dried Flower Tree”!  Winterthur Flower Program Coordinator Heidi Militana offers us this special behind-the-scenes glimpse, demonstrating that great things can indeed come from small beginnings.

August 4, 2017

In a tiny basement room under the Cottage, the process has already begun.  Walking into this room you will find hundreds of flowers strung on clothes-line and hundred’s more waiting in boxes.  The drying of multi-hued flowers, of all varieties, is the beginning of the process to produce Winterthur’s signature tree, the Dried Flower Tree, now a thirty-two year tradition for the museum.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the flowers that adorn the rooms in the Winterthur Museum?  After a week of design duty, they are removed by the Floral Team, stripped of their leaves, and brought to that tiny room in the Cottage basement, dubbed the Drying Room.  The arrangement below can be dried entirely, and flowers are purchased this time of year with exactly that in mind.

Sunflowers, Millet, Statice, Queen Anne’s Lace, and Safflower

The Dried Flower Team, consisting of the floral designers and some of our garden guides, dry the flowers by two methods.  Flowers that can be hang dried like larkspur, roses, yarrow, allium, safflower, and statice are bundled in small bunches.   Those are the ones you see immediately upon entering the Drying Room. 

After a week to ten days hanging upside down, they are carefully placed in long floral boxes and shelved, awaiting their time to be placed on the tree.

Boxed Larkspur

Usually, the first flower to be dried in March is the daffodil, taken from the gardens.  Many flowers, because of their form or structure don’t dry well hung on a line.  Instead they are placed carefully in a desiccant called silica gel. Terry Colonna, Winterthur Garden Guide and ‘Silica Gel Guru’, leads this endeavor.  This year she was particularly tickled with blue lacecap hydrangea.  Terry has taught many on the Dried Flower Team her secrets in obtaining the perfect everlasting bloom. 

Flowers dried in silica gel

In October, the Dried Flower Team gets together for a “bundling party.”  At that time, spread out in the basement hallway, all the flowers that have been hung dry are grouped into threes and fours, wrapped in floral tape and placed in boxes according to color and variety.

This year on November 13th, the boxes of flowers will ascend from the basement and make their way to the conservatory, where this year’s dried flower tree will reside.  The flowers are laid out according to variety and color, making the decision of what flower to place where on the tree an easy one. 

The hours of drying are over.  Next year’s blooms will begin the process all over again in March.  The process happens quietly in the tiny basement room, under the unsuspecting bustle of activity in the Cottage’s store and café.

To view a YouTube video of the making of Wintherthur’s Dried Flower Tree, go to:

To hear some of Terry’s silica gel secrets, watch the video clips of her drying flowers!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_dLOaucIMq-a1JrS3h3WFEzTlk/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_dLOaucIMq-bWtlcV96cU5zejA/view?usp=sharing

Photography by Rob Cardillo

November 10, 2017–February 25, 2018

The America’s Garden Capital Maze returns to Dilworth Park’s Wintergarden for a second season at City Hall in Center City, Philadelphia. Wintergarden features horticulture displays, ice skating, fire pits, and more. One of Wintergarden’s must-visit spots is the America’s Garden Capital Maze–a holiday-inspired garden that recognizes the more than 30 public gardens in our region—including Winterthur! Enjoy picture-perfect moments with friends and family amid the vibrant plantings, topiaries, twinkling lights, and festive décor. Tune into your creative side, and take advantage of 10 weeks of free Garden Workshops, provided by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society hosted on-site at the Rothman Cabin. Advance registration is required for Garden Workshops. The America’s Garden Capital Maze was created in partnership with Greater Philadelphia Gardens. Learn more at americasgardencapital.org/wintergarden.

The following was written in August by Natural Lands Intern Madeline Banks. This is a follow-up piece to her first post about the prescribed burns that took place in April, which can be viewed here: http://gardenblog.winterthur.org/2017/05/16/prescribed-burn-at-winterthur/.

 

A version of both posts was recently included on the blog of the Ecological Landscape Alliance and can be viewed here: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/10/restoration/functional-fire-prescribed-burning-winterthur/. On November 14, Winterthur will be hosting the day-long ELA conference, “The Evolving Role of Urban Landscapes.” For more information about the day’s speakers and schedule, please go to: http://www.ecolandscaping.org/event/conference-evolving-role-urban-landscapes/.

 

Continuing the project

One thing I am grateful for is the opportunity to monitor Armour Farm meadow after the burn. It is incredible to see the changes it goes through as the seasons progress. Through weekly surveys, I have been able to identify over 50 species of flowering plants in the meadow! This kind of documentation (however rudimentary it is with what limited time I can spend on it) had never been done for our natural areas by Winterthur staff before. It is beneficial to have a species content list so we know what we have — good and bad — so we can work on management plans for the future.

Armour Farm meadow, 1 month post burn

Reforestation efforts

Post burn, we went ahead with our efforts to reforest the north side of the meadow. First, we staked out saplings present so we knew what we were dealing with. Fortunately, there are good stands of young oak and tulip tree saplings with sprinklings of sweet gum saplings throughout our desired area.

oak sapling marking

Knowing there was a good seed bank, we mowed a new line of definition. Everything to the north of the line will be left alone from now on while everything south of the line will be maintained as a meadow. Currently, we intend on allowing this area to regenerate naturally, even though this is the long way around. Our hope is that one day, the plot will return to the forested wood lot it once was.

New boundary line which separates managed meadow (right) from forest regeneration (left)

Hidden treasures

In my extremely biased opinion, Armour meadow is Winterthur’s hidden gem. Neatly tucked away on the edge of the property, one can only catch a glimpse of its south side looking left past the pond as you enter the property coming down the main drive. In the summer, the absolutely-visitor-accessible meadow presents visitors with bright yellow black-eyed Susans, deep purple ironweed, abundant goldenrods, and waves of warm season grasses. To the more dedicated guest, one discovers the truly special such as Virginia mountain mint, green milkweed, and even a few species of native terrestrial orchids.

Asclepias viridiflora– Green Milkweed

In July, a walk all the way down the north side of the meadow rewards the visitor with over 90 individuals of ragged fringed orchid, and a substantial amount of ladies’ tresses orchids in August.

Platanthera lacera– Ragged Fringed Orchid

Spiranthes lacera– Ladies’ Tresses Orchid

Since this is the first year we have burned this field, and the first year a vegetative survey has been conducted, I can’t say whether the burn helped bring out these interesting plants. However, with more monitoring after annual maintenance will hopefully come some answers. As I write this in late summer in the threshold of autumn, the meadow is a mosaic in goldenrods and purpletop grass. It has most definitely been a lesson in nature’s resilience and response to human inflicted management practices.

4 months post burn, the meadow is alive again in shades of goldenrods and grasses

Last Wednesday was a perfect fall day in the Winterthur Garden — sunny, crisp, and with that little autumn “tang” in the air. Fortunately, it provided a golden opportunity to explore a venture that will debut in the fall of 2018: Land Art, or Nature Art, or Garden Art. Whatever we wind up calling this special event, it was definitely evident from the enthusiastic participation of Winterthur guests and staff that the subject is ripe for the picking!

Thank you to our willing Garden Insider participants and Garden staff for assembling Winterthur’s very first land art installation! As a series of squares, each as unique as the individual who created them, the finished work resembles a patchwork quilt that covers a slumbering patch of earth. What a great symbol of the day’s creativity, collaboration, and community.

A colorful quilt of nature-inspired art (digitally re-stitched!)

Fall Folly Frenzy

The Winterthur Garden is busy preparing for its first outdoor exhibition, Follies: Architectural Whimsy in the Garden, opening April 1, 2018. We are creating 7 new follies, or garden structures, that one might find in an historic landscape. These new features will be threaded between the follies that H. F. du Pont placed in his garden and will allow us to better highlight the stories behind our historic structures.

Our own folly such as the Latimeria Summerhouse and the Umbrella Seat in the Peony Garden, have all gotten spiffed up for the occasion and work to the Faerie Cottage in Enchanted Woods will be happening in the next two weeks. After planning, meetings, and setbacks (and subsequent planning & meetings for the setbacks), new folly construction is underway. Here are some highlights to date:

The Chinese Folly is being created off site and will “magically appear” in its new home near the West Galleries later this fall.

Illustration of Chinese Folly


The Green Folly has been under construction on site at the end of Greenhouse Lane.

Illustration of the Green Folly


The Neoclassical Folly stage is set and on the brink of construction. You may have noticed the mowed path and circle in the field outside of Magnolia Bend for a bit.

Illustration of the Neoclassical Folly


The footing outlines for the Mirrored Folly are in place outside of the Pinetum. Decking will appear this fall with the construction of the actual folly taking place off site.

Illustration of the Mirrored Folly


The top portion of the frame for the Ottoman Tent has been on site below the Quarry Bridge marking the placement of the footings. Decking will occur this fall with the tent-covering happening closer to opening day.

Illustration of the Ottoman Tent


The footprint of the Gothic Tower on Oak Hill has been placed in the lawn with footings coming soon. This, along with the Green and Neoclassical Folly will be ones that we will be able to watch come to life during their respective constructions.

Illustration of the Gothic Tower


Lastly, the Needle’s Eye will be constructed off site and then “launched” into place in the front entrance pond closer to our exhibition opening.

Illustration of the Needle’s Eye

Blog updates will ensue as more gets underway and you can follow the progress on the Winterthur Facebook page as well as on Instagram @winterthurbloom. If you would like to add your own pictures of the follies—existing or new—to our Instagram, use #gardenfolly .

We are very excited about this new opportunity for guests to see a familiar garden with new eyes!

(Illustrations by Eric Leland)