195 Ramapo Valley Road, Oakland, NJ 07436 (by appointment)
Michael C. Rudolph, Esq. P.A.
WEEKEND GETAWAY NOT TOO FAR FROM HOME
Last weekend, my wife and I spent three days in the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania. It's our go-to place when we want to get away and don't want to drive more than three hours. The main attraction is Longwood Gardens, 1077 acres of outdoor gardens in landscape designs ranging from formal to naturistic plantings, plus a 4.5 acre indoor, heated greenhouse conservatory with twenty gardens and 4,600 plants and trees.
Originally, the property was the hunting and fishing grounds of the Lenni Lenape Indians. Later, it became a farm and arboretum that eventually passed into the hands of a lumber mill operator who was about to cut down the trees. In 1906 entrepreneur-businessman-philanthropist Pierre S. DuPont came to the rescue and purchased the property, initially to save the trees. Eventually, he transformed the simple country farm into a place where he could entertain his friends and turned it into one of the country’s leading horticultural display gardens. Today, it is not only an attraction for people who love plants, flowers and trees, it is a learning and research horticultural center of a magnitude that space does not permit me to describe.
Many of the attractions remain the same all year long (trees, shrubs, topiary garden ponds and waterfalls). The flower displays, however, change from season to season. That has led us to return many times, almost always to a place it seems as if we are visiting for the first time. One year, our visit was dominated by a staggering array of azaleas and rhodendrons. Another time, it was the roses that stood out. Once it was tulips and other bulbs. Several times it was just row upon row of flowers in blazing color, some familiar, others not, but always different. The conservatory is a building with endless corridors and rooms, each with a different theme: desert cactus, giant rainforest plants, Mediterranean collection, and the orchid nook with hundreds of varieties packed into a relatively small alcove. The place is an unending orchestra of color.
If all of this were not enough, there are the fountains. On various days in the past, there was a fountain show, dozens of jets shooting water almost 100 feet into the air, synchronized to music and accented by a festival of lights. Alas, the fountains have been closed for a couple of years for a makeover. Happily, they will return this year in time for Memorial Day. Add to that fireworks displays four times each summer, and you have a perfect getaway.
We recently spent a three-day weekend to take in the orchid extravaganza. Words can't adequately describe the beauty of the conservatory, festooned with 12-foot arches of pink, purple and white orchids and row after row of orchids of every color imaginable. I thought the Christmas display we saw a year or so ago - - with gigantic trees adorned with lights and the conservatory decorated with poinsettias and other seasonal blooms - - was the ultimate. But nothing has topped the orchid display. The place is a photographer's dream. I have the pictures to prove it.
Longwood Gardens is not the only attraction in he Brandywine Valley. There good restaurants for every taste and pocketbook. The Brandywine Museum features paintings by Andrew Wyeth, the most famous native son, as well as other famous painters. There are other museums, a winery and loads of antique shops. For those addicted to shopping on TV, don't miss the QVC headquarters tour. And there is the Dansko Shoe Outlet, where they sell the most comfortable shoes for half price and less. We have stayed at a number of B & Bs, all of them quaint, cozy, friendly and moderately priced. We will be returning in a few months, partly to take advantage of our season membership, partly to see the fountain show and partly to retrieve my favorite umbrella, which I left at the Pennsbury Inn after Saturday's rainstorm.
Don't forget the articles that appear below. I hope you will read, enjoy and learn from them.
PLEASE NOTE: As of January 1, 2017, our office hours have changed. We Are Open Monday-Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 P.m. Closed on Fridays and Court Holidays.
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