PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Not An Easy Garden To Understand

 Dupont with some of his gardeners.
“For me it’s all about figuring out what that man was thinking.”
That man was H.F. duPont, the creator of Winterthur and the man doing his best to keep the gardens the way were originally designed is Chris Strand, Director of Winterthur.
It’s a relief not to be constrained by another person’s dictates.  What I enjoy about designing a garden is spreading my wings.  A man like Chris Strand is a horticulturist, a librarian and a preservationist.  His mission is keep the spontaneity of Winterthur alive.   To  know 1,000 acres of landscape intimately is an awesome task.  Chris Strand seems to take it in stride or maybe that is what comes from being at the same garden for 20 years.
Chris used William Robinsons’ The Wild Garden to guide us through the Winterthur landscape.  Some of the highlights:
1. Dupont’s way of planting drifts of bulbs.  Using branches from trees to layout the design of the drifts.  No straight lines or rows here.  The gardeners saved the branches year after year to plant bulbs.
2.  Collect  seed from snowdrops:  use a cotton bag (like a tea bag) after the snowdrops have been pollinated to collect the seed.
3.  Fertilize daffodils using compost tea.
4.  Winterthur’s Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata) is the first to flower in the US.
5.  Use as little irrigation as possible.  It’s a salad bar for deer.
6.  Winterthur has a collection of Weardale Perfection.  It is the rarest daffodil in cultivation.
 
“In a wild garden, it’s a mosaic of plants you want:
plants you are encouraging and plants that self sow.”

The Last Wild Garden

Chris Strand

Director of Winterthur Garden & Estate
February 19, 2012

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