Our local treasure – Gibraltar Gardens, Wilmington, Delaware

At the end of our street, lies a local treasure behind a stone wall.  Gibraltar Gardens is an urban oasis featuring landscaped walkways that wind through Italian statues, stone archways, rambling gardens, wrought iron gates, a curved staircase, a water garden and a dilapidated mansion.  Very often I stroll through these gardens or just sit on a bench and meditate.  Being right in the city, it is hard to imagine how much peace and tranquility exists behind these stone walls.  In 1998, Gibraltar was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Sadly, the mansion is now in disrepair, but the gardens have been maintained by volunteers.  It is open to the public, but a lot of people are not aware of this precious gem that exists right in our city.  So for now, I’m keeping the secret to myself 🙂

PicMonkey Collage

There’s just an aura about this place, that takes you back in time.  It was built in the mid 1840’s naming it after The Rock of Gibraltar as the mansion was built on a high rocky outcrop on which it stands.  The mansion belonged to John Brinckle, a prominent Wilmington businessman.  Members of the Brinckle family lived there till 1909 when Hugh Rodney Sharp and his wife Isabelle Mathieu du Pont, of the du Pont family, purchased the property.  They hired Marian Coffin, the then renowned landscape architect to design the formal gardens.  Marian Coffin created and designed landscapes up and down the East Coast, in addition to many of the fine du Pont gardens in the area.  The Sharp family owned Gibraltar till 1990.  When Rodney died in 1968, the estate was passed onto his son.  Unfortunately he did not share the same love of horticulture, and when he died in 1990, the estate was put up for sale.  At this time, Preservation Delaware saved Gibraltar and its gardens from demolition.

Take a virtual tour with me as we stroll through the gardens and the dilapidated mansion.

IMG_7248Columbines of different shades line the flagstone paths at the entrance.

IMG_7284

IMG_7230Statues, fountains and urns grace the property.

IMG_7303The beautiful marble archway is another great background for photos and makes quite a statement.  The bench is where I sit and meditate with all the lush greenery around me.

IMG_7292

IMG_7295

IMG_7258The gardens are a favorite backdrop for photographers, proms, graduations, weddings and just family photos.  The seasons portray different lighting, color and floral displays.

IMG_7275The shimmering water garden with koi, water lilies and other fish.

IMG_7263There are times when I sit all alone in my thoughts, I imagine what it would have been like during the summer parties the family hosted.  Women in their finest, coming down the sweeping curved marble staircase into the garden.  This impressive staircase is also a favorite spot for prom pictures and graduations.

IMG_7267The water garden shot taken from one of the top balconies overlooking the garden, it is a drop of about 30 feet.

IMG_7305The six and a half acre grounds is still pretty well maintained, but wait for the next picture, it is so disheartening!

IMG_7268An overgrown, dilapidated, run-down, ramshackle, mansion in disrepair.  It has an eerie feeling about it, almost haunted when you think of the history around it.

IMG_1359Here’s a picture of me taken a few years ago visiting the gardens in the spring when the white azaleas and the bluebells were at their finest.  Little did I know at the time, that we would be living just a stones throw from Gibraltar Gardens.  Goodstay Gardens is right across the street from Gibraltar gardens, and is where I volunteer once a week.  I feel so fortunate to be able to stroll to these two historical gardens so close to home.

 

30 comments

  1. Such beautiful gardens Loretta. It really is too bad money can’t be raised to restore the mansion. I’ve toured many gardens and when the home is restored it can be such an important part of its history. Gene and I always made a point of touring any garden, herb farm or nursery no matter where we traveled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Judi, it is such a shame, I only wish that they do not tear down that mansion in favor of upscale homes or commercial space. It’s great that you and Gene toured gardens, I know I love to do that as well, although Bert is not as passionate about it as I am 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your weekend.

      Like

  2. Oh I would want to keep that beautiful place a secret too. What a wonderful place to go and meander. That’s wonderful that the gardens are being kept up by volunteers! I’d love to take a peek in the mansion. It’s too bad that it’s in disrepair but it’s mystery probably adds to the whole atmosphere don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha Julie, I’m not sure it will be a secret anymore, now that I’ve blogged about it and spread it on social media LOL! Yes, thank god for volunteers, it’s amazing how well all the grounds and structures are spruced up. I too would love to peek into the mansion, but there’s a clearly marked “DO NOT” sign around the property. One time though a daring friend and I proceeded to go right up to the house, in front, back and sides, we felt like school kids disobeying the signs. 🙂

      Like

  3. This garden is a little known gem. I visited it years ago and they were just as magical as you described and photographed them Loretta. How fortunate for the gardens that volunteers have kept them maintained. Gardeners are such marvelous people! Lovely to stroll the gardens with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Johanne. Oh I recall you telling me about your visit there years ago. Were the gardens as maintained then? There’s been talk of tearing down that mansion and putting upscale homes there, or even commercial spaces. I hope Preservation DE have put an end to that. If that ever happened, we would not be able to stroll around the gardens for free, and it would certainly not be a magical mystery.

      Like

    1. Yes, I do believe we are quite fortunate to live next to 2 beautiful urban gardens. You are right, the house adds to the allure of it all. It would be a shame if they decided to tear it down. Enjoy your weekend Liz 🙂

      Like

  4. Thank you for sharing these beautiful gardens with us, Loretta. Viewing your lovely photos gave me a tranquil pause in the middle of my hectic day. Lucky you to live so close to not one, but two beautiful locations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Nancy. I’m so glad this provided you with a peaceful pause in the middle of your busy schedule. You are right, I feel so blessed to be able to meander through both these gardens and feel such a peacefulness about it. Especially, since they both came with quite a history. Thanks for stopping by as always, enjoy your weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, you’re so sweet Fae. 🙂 Indeed, I find it an oasis right in the heart of the city. Folks go by it everyday, and don’t realize what beauty exists behind those stone walls. Enjoy your weekend. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How lovely to walk through your secret garden together, Loretta! It’s wonderful that this beautiful oasis awaits behind the stone walls for all to enjoy. It truly is the perfect setting for photographing life’s special moments! Gibraltar Gardens reminds me of the gardens behind many castles that I have visited. I hope there is still a chance for the mansion to be restored by some preservation-minded individual or group in the near future. You are living in such a lovely neighborhood, Loretta! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dawn, you’ve expressed my own sentiments so beautifully. Having such a history behind it, adds to the allure of it all. I too love exploring castles. We’ve just returned from a trip to Europe, in particular we visited one castle that will be etched in my memory forever. It is perched high on a hill top and the views from the very top are just breathtaking! I’ll probably be blogging about that one soon 🙂 Enjoy your weekend, and as always thanks for visiting my site.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing your garden tour with us, Loretta! what a treat this is. I love places like these too. you are so lucky to have it so close by. Last year for my husband’s birthday I found a similar place an hour away where we could also bike thru the estate. It was magical!
    Your garden here is so well maintained. You look stunning in this garden too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sandhya. I agree, there’s nothing quite like strolling through a garden and taking in the sounds and scents of nature. I’m sure it was equally wonderful biking through that estate. That garden pic was taken probably about 4-5 years ago, at the time I had no idea that we would downsize and move so close to these 2 historical gardens, I was so chuffed!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a stunning place, Loretta! I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. I have never even been to Delaware before. I can see why everyone loves to go there to have their photographs taken. Sad about the mansion. I hope someday it can be repaired. What a beautiful picture of you in the spring gardens! Thank you for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Shari. Don’t feel so bad about not visiting Delaware, some people have never even heard of it (and the live in the USA) :). A few have even asked “which state is that in”? Ha ha, we’re the second smallest state in the USA, but the first to have ratified the Constitution. There, you’ve had your geography lesson for the day :). Yes, love these gardens, they have such an allure and history behind them, it is just so captivating, the fact that they are just a stonest hrow from where we live, is an added bonus. Thanks for visiting, Happy Sunday.

      Like

  8. This would be such an amazing place for weddings and all manor of events. The building could be restored by the State by way of training schemes and work placements. Once restored it could be used to train Students in Hotel management, catering and hospitality industry. Westminster college in London UK has a top class Restaurant where Students work in the Restaurant to prepare them for the real world. Or alternatively, a Soho House but open to the public. Even if it was a mini Biltmore, it would make a great tourist attraction. The neighboring building could be used as a stables or farm. Endless possibilities, unfortunately no $ or courage to make it a reality. Would also increase local property values, being a more desireable location to live. If only.

    Like

    1. Thank you Julien. I agree, endless opportunities, but so much red tape involved. This beautiful property is in a residential area, so there might be certain rules and regulations there. I clicked on your link to see where you were writing from, and I see you are in Switzerland? Oddly enough we are planning a trip to Switzerland this summer. Nothing set in stone yet, but still trying to figure out where we’d like to stay. Your property looks just gorgeous.

      Like

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