Goodstay Gardens, Wilmington, Delaware, USA

Just off busy Pennsylvania Avenue with the hustle of commuters, lies a hidden gem: I am speaking of Goodstay Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware.  These gardens date back to the 1700’s and are amongst one of the oldest in the state.  The structures that surround these gardens,  whether stone walls, boxwood hedges or tall trees enclose the gardens in a sense of peace and tranquility.  In 1854, Howard Pyle, an American illustrator and author and a native of Wilmington, grew up in the home and gardens.  He recalls the gardens with old-fashioned roses and sweet shrubs that filled the air with fragrance when in bloom.  He remembers the beauty, the air saturated with the odor of growing things and birds singing in the shady trees.

Goodstay Gardens was planned in the American Tudor style, with six partitioned “outdoor rooms” bordered by boxwood connected by gravel paths and colorful flower beds that bordered both sides of the main axis.  The mansion and gardens were also part of the DuPont family legacy.  Members of the DuPont family owned Goodstay Gardens from 1868 to 1968 and maintained the historic Tudor design.  Ellen Coleman DuPont Meeds received Goodstay as a wedding gift from her father in 1923.  It was she who further developed the house and gardens.  In 1924, she hired Robert Wheelwright who designed and enhanced the gardens as what we know today.  The two later married.  The main attractions today are what they were in the Wheelwright’s time – a knot garden, rose, iris, lilacs, azaleas, peonies and the turkey rock garden, where turkeys used to roost.  When Mrs. Wheelwright died in 1968, she bequeathed the property to the University of Delaware.

I am fortunate that these gardens are just a 10 minute walk from where I live.  I volunteer in these gardens and I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me.  I have a true commitment to these gardens, and look forward to working here each week.   The garden is in its peak during the spring season.  We typically start work in March after the garden has awakened from slumber.  Winter can be harsh at times in these parts, so we start by taking a walk around to look for signs of survival and spring.  There’s an air of excitement walking through the gravel paths, looking for bulbs poking their heads through the soil, taking note of what needs to be done, and generally surveying the gardens for damage and restoration.  We have various assignments through the spring, which tends to be the busiest.  It is the most wonderful feeling working here, listening to the birds chirp and being surrounded by nature.  The gardens are also used as a backdrop for photographers, artists and is sometimes used by wedding parties.  On a recent Sunday afternoon, we were invited to the premiere of a movie that was filmed in these very gardens, followed by a garden party later.  For our latest project, we’ve been working on six raised vegetable beds; preparing the soil, adding nutrients, planting seeds and plants.  I can hardly wait for harvest time.  These beautiful evenings have also allowed us to take a picnic and stroll to the gardens to enjoy the scents, sounds and peacefulness that we’ve come to enjoy in this paradise close to home.

Enjoy the photos, click to enlarge.

IMG_3493

IMG_1245

IMG_3498

IMG_1250

IMG_3511

Enjoying a picnic in the gardens with our little friend

Enjoying a picnic in the gardens with our little friend

On the menu for the picnic, jerk chicken, corn on the cob, couscous with roasted vegetables, garden salad and strawberries with black bean brownies

On the menu for the picnic, jerk chicken, corn on the cob, couscous with roasted vegetables, garden salad and strawberries with black bean brownies for dessert.

I know I don’t have a recipe to share or food to get your taste buds salivating, but I thought some beautiful flowers for our FF #72 table would be appropriate?  Thanks again Angie for letting us share, learn and forge such great friendships over food.

67 comments

    1. It has always been open to the public Sue, the trouble is nobody is aware that the garden even exists. A 10 min walk from TH will bring you right into the gardens…..and the best part? It’s free!!

      Like

      1. Aww, thanks Judy, that means a lot :). Just came in from the gardens this evening – I checked on the veggies and watered. I also checked on the herb garden where we were weeding together, you won’t believe how much the weeds have grown since we were last there :((

        Like

      1. Ahh yes, we are smack dab in the middle of the 2. In fact we’re off to NYC tomorrow to see our children. I’m hoping to visit the High Line if the weather co-operates, it so muggy and in the 90’s.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Great capture of the gardens and pictures Loretta. I didn’t know that you live in Wilmington DE. I lived around the area for a long time on and off from 2004 to 2009… Chaddsford, PA and Hockessin, DE.
    Wow! Small world.
    I did visit Long wood Gardens there but not these.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sonal. Small world indeed, are you a DuPont family? That’s actually why we are here; we used to live in Hockessin too, but after our children left the nest, we decided to downsize and move closer to the city. These gardens are just a stroll from the house. We love it here, there’s so much to see and do within walking distance. Yes Longwood is beautiful too. I hope you’re settling down in your new place.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful garden, Loretta. So nice to get to enjoy these outdoor rooms!
    Your vivid description and pictures felt like a stroll through these gorgeous gardens!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sandhya, and thanks too for letting me take you through the gardens in your imagination :). They truly are wonderful, and the fact that I can just stroll there, just makes it so much more special.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just beautiful, but I had to do a double take because that home looks exactly like the one at the end of the long drive to my parents estate in PA. Even the white fence! It was a beautiful stone farm house right before entering the 1/2 mile driveway to where I grew up. It did not have those great gardens though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh how odd that it had the same exterior with the white fence! I’ll bet it brought back memories for you. These gardens are truly gorgeous and the fact that it is in an urban setting and that I can walk from home and volunteer there is even more amazing! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Like

  4. Beautiful flowers and such a lovely garden! Very interesting history and I can smell the fragrance of love. I too volunteer in a garden to enjoy its serenity and to watch it through the changing seasons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is MY little paradise in my corner of the world. There’s just so much history to it, I was amazed when I was researching it. That makes it all the more special to me walking through those gravel paths and imagining what it must have been like.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love how these gardens exist in such a busy part of the world. They’re still stunning, and it’s awesome that you volunteer there. I love all the pictures. Thanks for sharing! Happy FF, and have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kaila – yes it truly is a magnificent setting in a busy part of the city. Thanks for stopping, and Happy Fiesta Friday to you, enjoy your weekend.. 🙂

      Like

  6. What a beautiful post Loretta! I love the pictures! It looks like such a wonderful place, so peaceful and I can imagine the joy volunteering there brings you 🙂 Thank you for sharing with the folks at FF 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love visiting gardens and how lucky for you to be 10 minutes away (walking). Great place to volunteer – I get my share of gardening as a Master Gardener Volunteer at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. No matter where Gene and I traveled we always looked for local gardens or herb farms to visit. I always appreciate beautiful flowers and thanks for sharing all of these beautiful pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judi. A Master Gardener eh! You should be blogging about your garden too and giving us some tips n’ tricks. I follow a few amazing gardeners who blog regularly on their garden. I have a gardening section on my blog, and also a travel section, I need to bring those up to speed, it seems my foodie posts just take over :). Happy FF and weekend.

      Like

      1. We too downsized from being a country mouse to a city mouse. We have a postage stamp lot now, but I like it that way….so I have extra time to volunteer in the big gardens. We have 6 raised beds @ Goodstay, and we’re trying various veggies there, it’s so exciting to see everything coming up. I should have thought of radishes, guess it will be too late to start from seed now. Would love to see pictures of your beds.

        Like

  8. Wonderful tour Loretta with gorgeous photographs. Loved the close up of the perfect rose, the robin and the little picnicker! I will look forward to visiitng these gardens in person. Thank you for a superb post. Your passion is contagious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Johanne, let me know if you ever want to visit the gardens, I can be your personal tour guide. The best time to visit though is in the spring time. Thanks for the visit, and stay cool where you are too!

      Like

    1. Thanks Julie, it truly is a place to escape with a good book – the fragrance in these gardens is just amazing too when everything is in bloom You can’t go wrong with photography in the gardens, it’s the food shots that I struggle with :). Thanks for stopping in Julie. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You really are lucky to live so close to these beautiful gardens. We are considering a trip in September to the DC/Baltimore area to visit friends. What is this garden like in that month?

    Like

    1. Yes, they really are beautiful, in fact there are 2 gardens just across from each other at the end of our street. Both have quite a bit of history attached it. Like I mentioned in my blog, Goodstay Gardens is best seen in the spring time when the garden is at it’s peak. But I would highly recommend Longwood Gardens, it is world-renowned and is about a 15 minute drive from where we live. It is actually in PA, but kind of on the Delaware border. That would definitely be worth a visit at any time of year. You can google it and get an idea. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s