Monday, May 30, 2022

Spring at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


"I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity; that is, I have purchased a small farm,” Pierre du Pont wrote to a friend soon after purchasing the Peirce farm in 1906. However, he added, “I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition & making it a place where I can entertain my friends.”

It didn’t take Pierre long before he started making his mark on what he called Longwood. The name came from the nearby Longwood Meeting House, which in turn was named for a neighboring Longwood Farm. “Longwood” probably derives from a nearby stretch of forest known locally as The Long Woods.

In 1907, Pierre laid out his first garden—the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk, which is today one of Longwood’s most popular gardens. Longwood’s first fountain—a simple pool with a single jet of water—was constructed in the center of the walk.

The springtime effect of the Flower Garden Walk was so successful that in 1909 Pierre began hosting June garden parties that quickly became highlights of the summer social season. Their success encouraged him to look for ever more wonderful ways to delight his guests.

The Open Air Theatre debuted five years later. His inspiration was an outdoor theatre near Siena, Italy. Within a year, he equipped it with “secret” fountains that shot out of the stage floor to drench visiting nieces & nephews.

To combat dreary winters, Pierre built an extension onto the original Peirce house & connected the new & old wings with a conservatory – Longwood’s first “winter garden.” Its courtyard was planted with exotic foliage & graced with a small marble fountain, a wedding gift to mark Pierre’s marriage in 1915 to Alice Belin.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Sunday, May 29, 2022

3 Rather Serious & Proper Mythical Goddesses Flora - Symbols of Spring by Rembrandt (1606-1669)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) - Portrait of Hendrickje Stofells as Goddess Flora
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) - Portrait of Saskia as Goddess Flora
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669) - Portrait of Saskia as Goddess Flora

In Rome, her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 B.C.E, and on the advice of the Sibylline books, she was also given a temple in 238 B.C.E. At the festival, with the men decked in flowers, and the women wearing normally forbidden gay costumes, five days of farces and mimes were enacted – ithyphallic, and including nudity when called for – followed by a sixth day of the hunting of goats and hares. On May 23 another (rose) festival was held in her honor.  

Flora's Greek equivalent is Chloris, who was a nymph. 

According to myth, Flora is married to Favonius, the wind god also known as Zephyr, and her companion was Hercules.  Flora achieved more prominence in the neo-pagan revival of Antiquity among Renaissance humanists than she had enjoyed in ancient Rome.

See:
 Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
 Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
 H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
 William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)

Taking Peonies from our Garden to the Cemetery


Every Memorial Day weekend my mother would cut peonies from our garden to place on the graves of relatives, after we wiped each gravestone clean.


From Decoration Day to Memorial Day


The years following the end of the Civil War in 1865 saw American communities tending to the remains & graves of an unprecedented number of war dead. All of the previous wars & conflicts fought by the United States combined did not add up to the body count produced by the Civil War.

For more than a century, the ritual of visiting cemeteries, memorials & gravesites served as the popular start of summer. It was an annual act of remembrance, clearing away the dirt & grime from those hallowed markers. It was a time to decorate those personal memorials. Until 1971, Memorial Day was known as "Decoration Day."

On the 1st official Decoration Day -- May 30, 1868 -- future president James A. Garfield, a former general, addressed a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery: "our children's children shall come to pay their tribute of grateful homage. For this are we met to-day...assemblies like this are gathering at this hour in every State in the Union.

"Thousands of soldiers are to-day...visiting the silent encampments of dead comrades who once fought by their side. From many thousand homes, whose light was put out when a soldier fell, there go forth today to join these solemn processions of loving kindred & friends."

After Garfield spoke, the 5,000 visitors made their way into the cemetery to visit the tens of thousands of graves in the newly formed Arlington cemetery.

But Decoration Day was not an official holiday. May 30 was a day seen by the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union Civil War veterans, as an official day of remembrance for people across the country. The idea was to honor the war's dead by decorating the graves of Union soldiers.

Local municipalities & states adopted resolutions over the following years to make Decoration Day an official holiday in their areas. Each of the former Union states had adopted a Decoration Day by 1890.

As time went on, "Memorial Day" began to supplant "Decoration Day" as the name of the holiday, & it became a day to honor all fallen American troops, not just Union soldiers from the Civil War. After the 2nd World War, Memorial Day was the term in more common usage, & the act of remembering all of America's fallen took on a renewed importance.

In 1968, the U.S. government passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which put major holidays on specific Mondays to give federal employees 3-day weekends. Memorial Day was one of these holidays. 

It all went into effect in 1971 &, by then, there were no more Civil War veterans - but there were decades of American vets from later wars.

See: Military.com      

Remembering


Saturday, May 28, 2022

17C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656 - 1746) - Porträt der Marquise de Gueydan  as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908) 

Friday, May 27, 2022

17C Myths of Spring around a Garden

1600 From The Four Seasons; Martius, Aprilis, Maius published by Joan Baptista Vrints. A Spring Landscape with a man playing the lute accompanied by woman holding flowers in her hand; a boat on the water collecting branches; with farming and gardening activities in background.

In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time.

Fire is a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants mark the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after peforming a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.

Some believed during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic.

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Spring at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Pierre S. du Pont was born in 1870 in a DuPont Company house overlooking the Brandywine Creek just north of Wilmington, Delaware. His early years were influenced by the area’s natural beauty & by the du Pont family’s long tradition of gardening. But not even Pierre himself could have predicted that he would someday become one of the country’s most influential gardeners.

While he always preferred to live amid the quiet, familiar beauty of the Brandywine Valley, Pierre was greatly influenced by his frequent travels around the globe. He attended several world’s fairs & expositions, where he was astounded by grand architecture & the latest technology, including the huge display of water pumps at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia & illuminated fountains at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

While traveling, he was also exposed to a wide variety of garden settings, including Horticultural Hall at the 1876 Centennial, England's Sydenham Crystal Palace, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew & the flora of South America, the Caribbean, Florida, California & Hawaii. Visits to Italian villas & French châteaux focused on the architectural qualities & water effects of those gardens.

In addition to his travels, Pierre also built an impressive record of success in corporate America. This success brought great wealth & he felt great responsibility to use it wisely. Pierre & his wife Alice gave generously to public schools, universities, & hospitals. But gardening remained his lifelong passion.

At the age of 36, Pierre bought the Peirce farm & soon began creating what would become Longwood Gardens. He followed no grand plan; rather, he built the gardens piecemeal, beginning with the “old-fashioned” Flower Garden Walk. His later gardens would draw heavily on Italian & French forms.

Many generations helped create Longwood Gardens, but Pierre du Pont – industrialist, conservationist, farmer, designer, impresario, & philanthropist – was to make the most enduring contribution.

When du Pont died in 1954, he left most of his estate to the Longwood Foundation to preserve & maintain & improve the gardens. Today, nearly 70 years after du Pont’s death, his gardens continue to delight & inspire visitors from around the world..    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

18C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656 - 1746) - Portrait Of Françoise D'Escravayat, Marquise De La Barrière as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)

Spring at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


There have been many stewards of the land that is now called Longwood Gardens. For centuries, the native Lenni Lenape tribe fished the streams, hunted its forests, & planted its fields. Evidence of tribe's existence is found in quartz spear points that have been discovered on & around the property.

In 1700, a Quaker farmer named George Peirce purchased 402 acres of this English-claimed land from William Penn’s commissioners. Over the next several years, George & his descendants cleared & farmed the rich land that would one day become Longwood Gardens. In 1730, one of George’s sons, Joshua, built a brick farmhouse that, now enlarged, still stands today.

Known as Peirce’s Park, the land became a popular destination for visitors. However, due to declining interest by the family, the trees came under threat of being cut down by a local lumber company. Pierre du Pont stepped in & bought the land to preserve it.

In 1798, George’s twin great-grandsons, Samuel & Joshua, actively pursued an interest in natural history & began planting an arboretum that eventually covered 15 acres. The collection included specimens from up & down the Eastern seaboard & beyond. By 1850, the land had become one of the best collections of trees in the country. The arboretum boasted one of the finest collections of trees in the nation & had become a place for the locals to gather outdoors – a new concept that was sweeping America at the time. Family reunions & picnics were held at Peirce's Park in the mid to late 19C.

As the 19C US fought its way to the 20C, the heirs to the land lost interest in property & allowed the arboretum to deteriorate. The property passed through several hands in quick succession, until a lumber mill operator was contracted to remove the trees from a 41-acre parcel within the original lands in early 1906. 

It was this threat that moved one man to take action. In July 1906, 36-year-old Pierre du Pont purchased the farm primarily to preserve the trees. But he didn’t stop there. Much of what guests see today – the beauty & majesty & magic of the Earth that is Longwood Gardens – was shaped by the remarkable vision & versatility of Pierre du Pont.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Maypole

17C Pieter Gysels (1621-1691) Elegant figures playing Musical Instruments around a Maypole next to a Formal Garden
Centuries of Celebrating Spring
May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. The ancient European festival of spring, Beltane, features a goddess which manifests as the May Queen & Flora. A god also emerges as the May King & Jack in the Green. 
1669 Scene before a Maypole near stages with Alkmaar Church in the Background by Salomon van Ruysdael (Dutch Landscape Painter, 1600-1670). 
In England, permanent Maypoles sometimes were erected on village greens. In some villages, there also were smaller Maypoles in the yards of households.  In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.
This painting is a copy of a painted wooden over-mantle, possibly showing the village of Weybridge c 1699-1701.  In this painting, many figures in 18C costume are depicted dancing around a painted wooden maypole. The painting is alleged to show the maypole set up on near the Ship Inn with the High Street in background.  Until the late 18C, Weybridge was as a very small village with a river crossing, seed milling to make flour & nurseries which would continue to provide the major source of home-grown income for the village until the 20C.
Josef Frans Nollekens (Flemish-born British artist, 1702-1748) May Day with a Maypole up on the hill. Some festival celebrants believed that on May Eve, you could bless your garden in by making love there with your partner. Union with the land was a May 1 focus, often with actual mating outside on other lands to bless fields, herds, home. 
Maypole at a Country Inn by Johann Peter Neeff (1753-1796) Revellers welcomed May at dawn with singing & dancing. Later communities celebrated with Morris Dancers & more formal pageants featuring Jack-in-Green& a May Queen to awaken the fertility in the Land.
1741 The Milkmaid’s Garland, or Humours of May Day, Francis Hayman.  In ancient spring-times, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve. Merrymakers decorated homes, barns, & other buildings with green budding branches. Men & women made garlands & wreaths of Flowers & Greens. 
18C Jan Josef Horemans II. (1714-1790) Villagers Making Merry with Maypole in Background.  Early communities prepared a May basket by filling it with flowers & goodwill & then giving it to someone in need of healing & caring. Women in early cultures formed wreaths of freshly picked flowers to wear in the hair to radiate joy & beauty. 
1767 Printed for Robert Sayer, London.  
Early groups often danced the Maypole to feel the balancing of the Divine Female & Male within. In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. Roman Catholic traditions of adoring statues of Mary with garlands of flowers on May 1 have Roman Pagan roots. On May 1, offerings were made to Bona Dea (as Mother Earth), the Lares (household guardian spirits), & Maia (Goddess of Increase) from whom May gets its name. 
Jan Josef Horemans the Elder (Dutch artist, 1682-1759),  Spring & Dancing Around The Maypole.  
On May 1, early cultures followed a pastoral tradition of turning sheep, cows, other livestock out to pasture. In early Scandinavia, mock battles between Winter & Summer were enacted at this time. Maypoles in Spain sometimes were topped with a male effigy which was later burned. In Germany, Fir trees were cut on May Eve by young unmarried men, branches removed, decorated, put up in village square, & guarded all night until dance occurred on May Day. 
1761–1770 John Collet (British artist, c.1725–1780) A Satire of a May Day Scene in London.  
Fire is a common accompaniment to many May celebrations. Celebrants mark the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting & often performing fertility rites. Many built a bonfire & then moved through it or danced clockwise around it. Livestock was driven around a Beltane fire or between 2 fires for purification & fertility blessings. 
1800s Robert Walker Macbeth (1848-1910) - Maypole scene depicting an earlier era.  In ancient times Druid priests kindled it at sacred places. In later times, Christian priests kindled their spring fires in fields near the church after performing a Christian church service. Branches & twigs often were carried around these fire 3 times, then hung over hearths to bless homes.  
Frederick Goodall (British artist, 1822-1904) Here Goodall depicts the Raising the Maypole from an earlier era. 
Risk-takers made a wish for good luck before jumping a bonfire or the flame of a candle. Some believe during May the veil between the human & supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify & increase fertility.
May Day, usually the 1st of May, celebrates the onset of summer, the height of Spring, & the flowering of life. In ancient European festivals of spring, Beltane, the dance around the Maypole represents their unity with the pole itself being the God & the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Mayday is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, & delight.
In ancient springtimes, gathering & exchanging of Flowers & Greens was common on May Eve.
In Pagan Rome, Floralia, from April 27-May 3 was the festival of the Flower Goddess Flora & the flowering of Springtime. 
1890 Golden Yellow Raspberries and Children Playing Maypole on Seed Catalog
Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Monday, May 23, 2022

18C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656 - 1746) - Marie Therese Bloneldharau  as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908) 

Spring at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


By the mid-1930s, Longwood had grown from the original 202 acres to 926 due to Pierre’s purchase of 25 contiguous properties over the years. In addition to horticulture, agriculture had always been important at Longwood, which started out, after all, as a farm.

Longwood’s agricultural & horticultural operations slowed considerably during World War II. Many employees served in the Armed Forces, & a 72-bed emergency hospital was set up in rooms above the Ballroom just in case the community needed it. Pierre du Pont was a “gentlemen farmer” who sought to create a self-sustaining model farm that used the latest techniques & methods. In reality, the farm was more an expansive, expensive hobby than a business, but it did produce food for the du Ponts & their employees.

As early as 1914 with the formation of Longwood, Inc., Pierre was thinking about the eventual fate of the property after his death. In 1944, Mrs. du Pont died, & Pierre initially retreated to his apartment in Wilmington during weekdays, visiting Longwood only on weekends. But he was more concerned than ever about Longwood's future, particularly since he had no children but considered the Gardens part of the du Pont family legacy.  

In 1913, the US government enacted personal income tax. In response, Pierre incorporated Longwood in 1914. He always tried to stay one step ahead of the IRS to keep his farm & gardens in the best possible tax situation, & in 1937 the Longwood Foundation was created to handle his charitable giving. Finally, in 1946, the government gave approval for the Foundation to operate Longwood Gardens as a public garden with tax-exempt status “for the sole use of the public for purposes of exhibition, instruction, education & enjoyment.”    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

1901 Spring Idyll by George Henry Boughton (1833–1905) - An American 20C Personification

George Henry Boughton (American artist, 1833–1905) Spring Idyll 1901.

 George Henry Boughton, (1833-1905) was born in Norwich, England as a farmer's son, Boughton emigrated to Albany, New York with his family at age 3. At 19, & without any formal training, he sold his 1st painting, The Wayfarer , at the American Art Union exhibition. 

His influences included Edward May, with whom he studied during a visit to Paris, & Édouard Frère. In 1862, 2 of Boughton's paintings were exhibited in the British Institution. He submitted 2 pieces to the Royal Academy in 1863, & over the next 42 years Boughton exhibited 87 pieces there. He made London his permanent home in 1862, married Katherine Louise Cullen in 1865, became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1896, & died in 1905 of heart disease.

Remembered as a figure & genre painter, Boughton illustrated works by American writers Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, & Washington Irving. He also wrote a narrative about his travels in Holland, Sketching Rambles in Holland (1885). 

He is mentioned by contemporaries as one of the most gifted artists of his day. An 1870 art critic suggests that Boughton was a humorist as well as a "poet-painter," & his pictures "have always had something in them--something well rendered, & something personal." His work was also admired by Vincent Van Gogh.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

18C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) - Louise Anne de Bourbon Comtesse de Charolais 1731as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908) 

Spring at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Pierre du Pont’s love for fountains stretched back to when he was mesmerized at the age of six by the huge display of water pumps at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. With his indoor Conservatory now a reality, Pierre turned his full attention outdoors, where Longwood’s hydraulic splendors were already underway. Never mind that the property didn't have an abundant water supply; with electricity, anything was possible.

From 1925 to 1927, Pierre constructed  a Water Garden in a low-lying, marshy site northeast of Longwood’s Large Lake. The inspiration was the Villa Gamberaia, near Florence, Italy. The original did not have many fountains, but Longwood’s version had 600 jets in nine separate displays that shot from six blue-tiled pools & 12 pedestal basins.

At the same time, Pierre installed a 40-foot tall jet fountain at the end of the central allée in Peirce’s Park. It is said that Mrs. du Pont could turn the fountain on for her house guests with a switch. Pierre next decided to enlarge the Open Air Theatre & replace the old waterworks with 750 illuminated jets that continue to elicit thrills today.

Pierre’s hydraulic masterpiece was the Main Fountain Garden in front of the Conservatory: 10,000 gallons a minute shot as high as 130 feet & illuminated in every imaginable color. Its complex engineering didn't faze him. "The fountains themselves are of simple design...," he noted. "It is the landscape effect that adds to the total bill."

The completion of the fountains in the mid-1930s marked an end to major construction during Pierre’s lifetime, although he did build a 30-by-36-foot oval analemmatic sundial in what is now the Topiary Garden in the late 1930s.

In 1929-30, Pierre  constructed Longwood’s 61-foot-tall stone Chimes Tower based on a similar structure he had seen in France. In 1956, the original chimes were replaced with a 32-note electronic carillon. In 2000, a new 62-bell carillon was crafted in The Netherlands.

The Longwood Steinway Grand Piano was purchased by Pierre du Pont from Steinway & Sons in 1923. Du Pont was an amateur pianist & had a great love of music & all the performing arts. He wanted the world‘s most finely crafted instrument that he, his family, friends, & visiting artists could use to play music of the highest quality sound.

Located in the Ballroom, Pierre S. du Pont constructed the largest residence organ in the world—Longwood's 10,010 pipe Aeolian organ, in 1930. These resident instruments remain cornerstones of Longwood's performing arts programming, which presents world-class artists in unparalleled settings.

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Friday, May 20, 2022

18C Personification of Spring (with background gardens, of course!) from Robert Sayer London in 1750

1750 Spring Published by Robert Sayer London

Here Spring is once again depicted as a fashionably-dressed young woman with flowers in her hair, picking a rose from a bush on the right, holding others in her apron, She is resting her elbow on a parapet overlooking a garden. In the background, a man is leaning against a garden balustrade, and a couple stand in front of a domed garden temple.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

18C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

Nicolas de Largillierre (French, 1656 - 1746) - Marie Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


Ten years after purchasing Longwood, Pierre du Pont was just getting warmed up. By 1916 he was contemplating grand indoor facilities “designed to exploit the sentiments & ideas associated with plants & flowers in a large way.”

The result was the stunning Conservatory, a perpetual Eden that opened in 1921. The latest technology was used to heat, water, & power the complex, but the systems were hidden in tunnels so as not to detract from the grandeur of the glass-covered peristyle & surrounding rooms.

Pierre chose to fill his new garden not with the usual jungle of exotic tropical foliage as was then the fashion but rather with fruits & flowers used in a decorative, horticultural way. One observer termed his greenhouses “floral sun parlors.”

A staff of eight gardeners oversaw this perpetual indoor flower show, aided by three boiler operators. Outdoors there were 11 gardeners & groundskeepers, & the entire Horticultural Department of 29 was headed by old-school English gardener William Mulliss.

It would be hard to imagine a more theatrical setting for the display of plants, unless it would be to the music of a massive, 3,650-pipe Aeolian. In 1923, an elegant Music Room with walnut paneling, damask-covered walls, teak floors, & a molded plaster ceiling was built opening onto the central axis of the main greenhouse.

The public came in droves to see these wonders under glass, fulfilling Pierre’s childhood dream of building a greenhouse open to the public. The du Ponts also had the perfect place for grand entertainment hosting innumerable civic & educational groups as well as family & friends. The guests’ reactions were always the same: a place beyond compare.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

18C Personification of Spring in the Garden from Carrington Bowles 1766

1766 Spring in the Garden... Published by Carrington Bowles After Robert Pyle done by James Watson London

Here Spring is a stylish young woman standing on garden terrace, adding a rose to flowers in her apron. Her elbow rests on the garden plinth of an urn covered in a trailing plant. A basket of flowers sits on the plinth.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

18C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

  Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766) - Henriette of France as The Goddess Flora

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)

Earth's Creatures Stop to Smell the Flowers

Spring & Summer are the perfect time to celebrate the rebirth of Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

The expression came into popular modern use in the 1960s & is a rephrasing of a sentiment found in an autobiography written by the golfer Walter Hagen: “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

Spring 2022 at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania


"I have recently experienced what I would formerly have diagnosed as an attack of insanity; that is, I have purchased a small farm,” Pierre du Pont wrote to a friend soon after purchasing the Peirce farm in 1906. However, he added, “I expect to have a good deal of enjoyment in restoring its former condition & making it a place where I can entertain my friends.”

It didn’t take Pierre long before he started making his mark on what he called Longwood. The name came from the nearby Longwood Meeting House, which in turn was named for a neighboring Longwood Farm. “Longwood” probably derives from a nearby stretch of forest known locally as The Long Woods.

In 1907, Pierre laid out his first garden—the 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk, which is today one of Longwood’s most popular gardens. Longwood’s first fountain—a simple pool with a single jet of water—was constructed in the center of the walk.

The springtime effect of the Flower Garden Walk was so successful that in 1909 Pierre began hosting June garden parties that quickly became highlights of the summer social season. Their success encouraged him to look for ever more wonderful ways to delight his guests.

The Open Air Theatre debuted five years later. His inspiration was an outdoor theatre near Siena, Italy. Within a year, he equipped it with “secret” fountains that shot out of the stage floor to drench visiting nieces & nephews.

To combat dreary winters, Pierre built an extension onto the original Peirce house & connected the new & old wings with a conservatory – Longwood’s first “winter garden.” Its courtyard was planted with exotic foliage & graced with a small marble fountain, a wedding gift to mark Pierre’s marriage in 1915 to Alice Belin.    See: Longwood Gardens History for more. 

“Beauty awakens the soul to act.” - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Monday, May 16, 2022

17C Spring on Earth by William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649)

William Marshall (British printmaker, 1617-1649) The Elements - Earth

Spring is the perfect time to celebrate Earth's Beauty & Bounty.  Flowers gave beauty & inspiration to mankind's basic struggle to live & to populate & to protect his home-base, The Earth.  Holding on to The Sweet Divine - The Lord God took man & put him in the Garden of Eden to work it & to keep it...Genesis 2:15.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

17C Mythical Goddess Flora - Symbol of Spring

1685-90 Lady as The Goddess Flora, by Jan van Haesbergen

Flora in Roman mythology, was goddess of spring-time & flowers, later identified with the Greek Chloris. Her festival at Rome, the Floralia, instituted 238 B.C. by order of the Sibylline books & at first held irregularly, became annual after 173. It lasted 6 days (April 28-May 3), the 1st day being the anniversary of the foundation of her temple. 

The Floralia was a public festival to honor the goodwill of the goddess Flora. Created in the 6th century BC by the Romans, it took place in spring  & lasted 6 days, & consisted of games & theatrical performances. Chariot races & circus games took place & everywhere were the symbols of Flora. It was traditional to have goats & hares scampering about the landscape where flowers of lupines, beans, & vetch were scattered about. The celebrating Romans held bouquets of flowers & wore wreaths of flowers around their necks or in their hair. In art Flora was represented as a beautiful maiden, bedecked with flowers. The term “flora” became used in botany collectively for the plant-growth of an area.

See Primary Sources:
Ovid, Fasti V. 193-212
Macrobius, Saturnalia I.10.11-14
Lactantius, Divinae institutions I.20.6-10
Tacitus, Annals, ii. 49
and
Ovid, Fasti, Book 4; T.P. Wiseman, The Myths of Rome (University of Exeter Press, 2004).
Robert Turcan, The Gods of Ancient Rome (Routledge, 2001; originally published in French 1998)
H.H. Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic (Cornell University Press, 1981)
William Warde Fowler, The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic (London, 1908)