Thursday, July 11, 2013

Another One of My Detours

I know this post was promised to be all about southern decor, and I really do have that planned.  But then, last week a friend and I traveled to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a destiny she had never been but one to which my husband and I had traveled often.  I have not been in ten years, but oh how I still love this area.  Hence, my detour today.  Bear with me.  (Hold this thought: Kennett Square is six hours south of where I live.)

Our first destination was Longwood Gardens.  Here Pierre DuPont left a legacy of inspiration for
garden lovers.  I remember my husband carefully leaning into garden beds to read the names of plants and trees we loved as I just as carefully recorded them.  Last week, I viewed the garden in rain and humidity and did not even take my notebook or phone/camera out of the car.  Wrestling umbrella, small purse and phone held no appeal for me, but here are a few pics from Longwood's website and googleimages.

I have always loved this structure near the pond in the west part of the garden.  Longwood is known for its magnificent fountains, but those do not appeal to me.  To me it is Longwood's quiet serenity that is most appealing, just like below.

This urn is one of my favorite water features.  The vessel continually overflows in its niche surrounded by annuals.  It is perfection.

Pierre du Pont first purchased the acres that make up Longwood in order to save the mature tulip trees which grew on the property.  He then enlarged the house (below) which he purchased with the land.  The French door-windows are able to descend below ground so that plants may be moved to and from the small house conservatory.  When my son was in school in DC, he would take the train to Media, Pa. and spend time with us at Longwood.  We would sit on the porch to the left of the conservatory, discuss family news, and really be miffed when anyone else sat on the porch - it felt like our porch for a little while.

The topiary garden behind the rose garden.  All my children used to pat the topiaries.  They have such tactile appeal - the shrubs, not my children. 

Another view of the topiary garden and a glimpse of a structure similar to the one in my first image.  DuPont  knew the power of repetition which gave continuity to his garden masterpiece.

My husband and I used to sit in these very chairs, rest and enjoy the tower garden.  They were missing this visit, but then they would have been rain-soaked anyway.

A first glimpse of the main conservatory DuPont built.  Always awe-inspiring.

Next conservatory.

After Longwood, we visited an antique shop, checked into our hotel, had dinner and planned our next day.  In the morning, we started with the Brandywine River Museum.  My friend knew little about the Wyeths and their school of painting, but by the end of our day, she was hooked.

One of the current exhibits features Jamie Wyeth and his paintings from Monhegan Island, Maine.
Monhegan is a definite destination-must for me this summer.  Like me on Pierre DuPont's porch, Jamie wished all other artists would leave Monhegan so it would be only his inspiration.

On one of my husband's and my visits to the Brandywine River Museum, we viewed NC Wyeth's home and studio.  I was thrilled with actually being in the same rooms where the Wyeth children opened Christmas gifts and ate dinner, to be in the same room where illustrations of Treasure Island  and Last of the Mohicans were created.  This time Andrew Wyeth's studio was open for view.  I'm not sure my friend was thrilled with the idea of viewing it, but she was by the time we left.

Above is an image of the studio from a portfolio of postcards I purchased.  We were not allowed to take any interior pictures, but we could take them outside.  Several of the following images are my pics.

Below is a close-up of the sign gleaned from my postcard portfolio.  I asked the docent if people actually tried to approach Wyeth this way.  She said they did.

Another of my pics.

The following images are from my postcards.  Andrew had given Jamie part of the studio.  Here we see sketches Jamie did of all the Kennedy men in preparation for his portrait of John as president.  In the mirror, which both Jamie and his father used as an aid to completing their work, we see the finished portrait of John, completed after his assassination.  I asked the docent (I was a busy little questioner but tried to limit them so as not to be an annoying member of our group.) why the Kennedys never commissioned Andrew to do the portrait.  She said it was because Andrew didn't take commissions - Andrew painted whatever Andrew wanted to paint.  So cool.

Below is a kas given to Andrew by their pediatrician.  She treated the Wyeth children and Andrew paid her with his paintings.  In return she gave him the kas which figured in many of his later paintings and is surrounded by familiar props used in his work.

This is Andrew's part of the studio.  Note the mirror here also.  The building was once used as an old school, and when the ceiling was repaired for the studio, it was repaired keeping the look of the old ceiling at Andrew's insistence.  It cost ten times more than it would have if just drywalled over.  So cool.  In the foreground is the palette Wyeth used to mix his temperas - a mixture of egg yolk and pigment which gave him the textures he was seeking.

And here are the pigment powders he purchased from all over the world.  (If you are interested in Wyeth homes in Brandywine country, do check out some of my earlier posts from last year.  I spent quite a few posts on Wyeth interiors, one of my first design loves because their rooms are so authentic and true.)

After the Brandywine Museum and the Wyeths in the morning, we moved onto Francis DuPont's Winterthur and his collections in the afternoon.

I had perviously been on several tours at Winterthur and knew the one with earlier antiques would really appeal to my early-antique-minded friend.  Well, it wasn't offered that day, but after talking to a woman at the welcoming center, she said she would she what she could do.  What she did was arrange a private tour just for the two of us.  So cool and so thoughtful.
The image below is a dresser that started Francis DuPont's fascination with American antiques.  Previous to this epiphany, he had collected antiques world-wide.

Again, no photos were allowed here, so this image of what we saw is from googleimages.

Ditto this.

And this.

Please note the beautiful highboy in this room.  If you recall from previous posts, I love highboys.  My single one is nothing as lovely as DuPont's myriad.

After Winterthur, we had a little time to kill before our dinner reservation.  I wanted to visit the garden center where my husband and I purchased two huge pots (I remember my son seeing them in the back of the car when we visited him in DC.  He laughingly commented there was no room for him.  There almost wasn't.), many plants, and three lighted grapevine spheres for the holidays.  Well, Styers is now "Terrain at Styers" and it is fabulous.  (Loi, I think you wrote a post on Terrain, but till this visit, I never connected it to the old Styers I knew.)  Loved this garden structure almost reminiscent of the one in Longwood.

Then we went inside.  My friend and I split into different directions.  When passing by each other, she commented, "I could do some serious damage in this place.  It's great."  I loved the funkiness of this container with water dripping into it from above.

Everything below caught my eye - the finish of the table with plants marching down the center and  the very Tolix-esque chairs surrounding it all.

And this.  The mirrors reflecting the lighting feature, those wicker chairs, the round table, the dresser with the black drawers and stained top.  Wrap it all up.  I'll take it.

Everything was displayed in a very cool way.

From orchids...

to the garden-tool wreath in a dining area...

to the ladies restroom.  Sorry, I had to take pics of it.  So cool and funky.

My tiny purchases from Terrain - no tables, or chairs, or highboys, but I like my linen bag of wonderfully fragrant something which now scents my car and bedroom (had to purchase two), a pot of succulents and cool stone candle holder.  I felt like a lucky woman.

After tearing ourselves away from Terrain, we dined at Dillworthtown Inn and talked about our visit.  Such a great time.

Not forgetting the supposed topic of my blog from which I stray constantly, I leave you with this image of a funky little kitchen as seen in Atlanta Home and Lifestyle.  I think I like it so much because of the pendants and the ladder.  If it's not antique, then it has to be cool and funky...or English, or spare, or neutral, or Saladino-esque, or Darryl Carter's work.  So, so conflicted!
Next time, no detour.  Back to my southern series. 

Bear with me - my detours, and my blatherings -


  1. Billie, your detours are mini virtual vacations and I look forward to them. I like your purchases from Terrain too!

    Happy Weekend,

  2. Billie,
    As Deborah, I do have to tell that I just looking forward to your blogposts! What a wonderful detour you have made!
    That funky kitchen is to die for!!

  3. Hi, Billie!!! So glad you made it to Terrain!! I spend hours there! It's been a while since my last visit to Longwood. Perhaps next time we should meet there? Tom and I are in Maine, and almost took the ferry to Monhegan. We stayed near Port Clyde and the ferry was right there. Headed to a wedding tonight in Yarmouth.
    Great post, Billie.
    x Loi

  4. We did not have time to visit the Wyeth's home and Brandywine Museum on our last visit to Kennett Square,we had all of our kids that time, thank you for the tour. Want to go back and learn more about the Wyeths. Also have Farnesworth on my Maine list. Great post again!