LONGWOOD CHIMES 293
Pierre S. du Pont was an engineer at heart. His passion for technology and innovation is evident throughout our Gardens and is a driving force behind the beauty and spectacle of Longwood today. In this issue, we go behind our beauty to explore the machines, the mechanics, and the mindset that brings this beauty to life—from the technology used to grow extraordinary plants in our greenhouses, to the handcrafted work of our in-house artisans, join us as we examine how our beauty takes shape.
A Royal Affair Professional Gardeners travel abroad to volunteer at RHS’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. By David Sleasman
The Art of the Trades Meet some of the talented tradesmen whose work is integral to our Gardens’ beauty. By Lynn Schuessler
Turf War Keeping the grass greener is an ongoing battle, but research is helping to win the war. By Shawn Kister
In Control The science and systems behind growing our extraordinary plants. By Ryan Knauer
The Volunteer Spirit Beginning with a single volunteer in 1989, to more than 700 today, volunteering is a tradition that makes our Gardens ﬂourish. By Aimee Beam
The Fountains of Longwood Part Four: Mystic Grandeur Encouraged by the success of Longwood’s other fountains and surrounded by the endless optimism of the Roaring Twenties, Pierre du Pont decided to create the ultimate fountain spectacle. By Colvin Randall
A Membership Moment From a few ‘Good Neighbors’ to 65,000 ‘Members,’ a look at Gardens Membership.
Of Fountains and Fortunes Each year guests from around the world visit Longwood and leave behind coins they have tossed into our fountains, many of which are housed in the archives as a reminder of who visited and from where.
Detail of a partially dismantled Worthington Model #5L2 pump, one of the original 1931 pumps in the Pumphouse of the Main Fountain Garden. The #5L2 is a 50 HP pump, running at 1,740 RPM, pumping 1,160 GPM, and capable of 121 feet of Total Dynamic Head (TDH = maximum pumping height capability from pump impeller to top of stream). Photo by Daniel Traub.
A Royal Affair Did you see the Dancing Einsteins? Is that Lady Mary Keen talking to Fergus Garret? Dame Judi Dench just walked past me…
Opposite: Professional Gardener seniors and accompanying chaperones were on full display throughout buildin and Press Day for the Chelsea Flower Show. Photos by David Sleasman.
Professional Gardeners travel abroad to volunteer at RHS’s prestigious Chelsea Flower Show. By David Sleasman
The Royal Horticulture Society’s (RHS) Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most prestigious flower shows in the United Kingdom, if not the world. The level of design and the quality of plantsmanship is extreme. Hardly any expense is spared. As part of our Professional Gardener Program, our senior PGs are exploring British horticulture in a two-week trip from Cornwall and Devon to London and ending at the National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. One of the most exciting segments of the trip is a stop to volunteer during the build-in of the great Chelsea Flower Show. Build-in is a two-day, coordinated, but mad-dash effort by all the vendors and demonstration garden exhibitors to stage the show. Everything must be perfect. Judging will occur on Press Day and everyone is very serious. Early on Saturday morning PGs Jenna, Hannah, Martha, Sarah, Rob, Emily, Jason, and staff chaperones Mark Mosinski and Doug Needham arrive for assignments and safety training. With so many large lifts and power equipment moving everywhere, steel-toed shoes and highvisibility vests are a must. Trolleys and carts of plant material are jamming the aisles everywhere. The quality and variety of the plants is breathtaking, and their luxuriousness and fragrance is almost unbelievable. The group is asked by RHS staff to coordinate the assembly of benches and containers using donated plants from the vendors, and to assist Bowdens Hostas with its main exhibit in the Grand Pavilion. Teams target particular vendors for donations of plants, soil, and mulch, while others work to plant each container and label it. Repeatedly during the days of work, vendors see the PG’s Longwood
shirts and happily chat, “Are you from Longwood? How Lovely. Do you know so and so?!” New connections are made. Old friends and former Longwood students reconnect. As the displays grow closer to completion, the BBC and other television crews are recording interviews with designers and shooting close-ups of the gardens. The gardens and displays are stunning. Each one appears as if it has been in place for years with large, established trees, buildings, and structures. Wow. As time passes, gardeners are becoming more intent and focused on details. As a reward for their work, the PG class is invited to preview the entire show during the exclusive Press Day on Monday, the first of the official opening events. The day is sunny and beautiful. Everyone is dressed and ready to impress—gardens and people. And what an impression! Today the show is just as much about the people as the gardens. The stars of the British horticultural world are here in addition to celebrities and some former Longwood Graduate Program students and international interns. … Did you see the Dancing Einsteins? Is that Lady Mary Keen talking to Fergus Garrett? Dame Judi Dench just walked past me. The PGs wander and wonder to see all the finished displays inside and outside the Grand Pavilion. The gardens are even more perfect than yesterday with last-minute touches . It’s a very special treat to experience the show before the crowds. Press Day ends midafternoon and the Queen arrives shortly after for the royal viewing. Tomorrow the crush of ticketholders will arrive, and the PGs head to their next stop, Waddesdon Manor.
Turf War Although we are perhaps best known for our acres of colorful floral displays, we also tend 185 acres of turf throughout the Gardens, which can be just as challenging to maintain as our floral beauty. Keeping turf looking pristine requires a combination of skill and knowledge that comes from years of experience. And as many homeowners with just small yards can attest, it isn’t easy. To help arm us in the ongoing struggle, we engage in a variety of research to identify the best practices, techniques, and cultivars we can use to grow and maintain our turf in the most aesthetically pleasing, ecological, and efficient way possible. Currently, we are in the midst of three active turfgrass research projects. The first trial is designed to evaluate eight cultivars of turf type tall fescue to determine which perform the best under Longwood’s turfgrass management program over a five-year period. We partnered with Dr. Mike Fidanza, Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at the Penn State University Berks Campus, to assist us with the evaluation of the plots. All of the cultivars are commercially available and the trial is being conducted in the Idea Garden so guests can view the plots as the research progresses. The cultivars are being evaluated by Dr. Fidanza monthly for a number of criteria, including establishment time (how long it takes an area to be covered by plant material), turf quality, turf color, stand density (how many individual plants are in the area), percent ground cover (percent of area covered with the selected plant material), plant quality during heat/drought stress, and disease resistance to Brown Patch. (Brown Patch is the most common disease for turf type tall fescue, so cultivars resistant to the disease are highly sought.) Another ongoing trial is the result of a previous research project that helped
Keeping the grass greener is an ongoing battle, but research is helping to win the war. By Shawn Kister
determine the influence of mowing frequency on weed encroachment in naturalized grass species. This trial was performed with the support of Dr. Pete Landschoot, Professor of Turfgrass Science at the Penn State University Park campus. The research found that mowing three times per year or one time per month significantly reduced the weed pressure in naturalized grass areas while reducing mowing frequency. Both mowing frequencies produced aesthetically acceptable turfgrass stands with minimal weeds. Creeping red fescue, hard fescue, and turf type tall fescue performed best under these mowing frequencies in this trial. As a result, we initiated another trial to look at two establishment regimes using the three aforementioned species of turfgrass. One establishment technique involved scalping the existing vegetation and seeding into the soil while the other technique involved killing the existing vegetation and then seeding. The second option was the traditional method used and the one we found worked best for establishing turfgrass.
Our final research project began in the fall of 2015, when we installed a National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) trial to determine the rate of establishment, stand density, weed species, and cover, along with aesthetic characteristics of 32 cool-season turfgrasses and mixes. This trial is also being aided by Dr. Fidanza who will help with the plot ratings over the five-year trial period. NTEP trials are established across the country and aid professional turfgrass managers with evaluating turfgrass species and cultivars under many different criteria. All of this information is available online free of charge, so if you are looking for help with your own turf challenges, visit http://www.ntep.org/. Each of these trials has, or will, help guide our turfgrass program by providing valuable information for species and maintenance programs. The findings allow us to more efficiently manage our turf, often reducing the amount of intervention needed to achieve the desired aesthetic and ecological goals. The grass can always be greener…with some help from research.
Left: Dr. Pete Landschoot, Professor of Turfgrass Science at Penn State University Park campus, and Longwood Section Groundskeeper Mike Raign, in the field surveying a turf trial being conducted to assess establishment regimes for three different species of grasses. Opposite: Detail of creeping red fescue plot cut three times per year. Photos by Hank Davis.
The Volunteer Spirit Beginning with a single volunteer in 1989, to more than 700 today, volunteering is a tradition that makes our Gardens ﬂourish. By Aimee Beam
Opposite, clockwise from top left: A corporate volunteer from W. L. Gore & Associates spreading mulch; Volunteer Team badges; Bluebird and Meadow Team volunteers Paula McLean, Gerry Neeson, Bob Eaves, and Kevin McLean gather on
He may not have known it at the time, but in 1989 Hugo Taraboletti started one of the most important programs at Longwood when he became our first volunteer, assisting with the care of our orchids. Today, Longwood couldn’t flourish like it does without our Volunteer Program, as more than 700 volunteers work alongside staff in every department. “We couldn’t achieve all we do without our staff and volunteers collectively working together to contribute more than 65,000 volunteer hours every year to make us one of the great gardens of the world,” says Executive Director Paul B. Redman. Over the past 27 years the Volunteer Program has grown in size and opportunity. Our first volunteer-led team was the Christmas Team, and now there are more than a dozen teams of which to be a part. From gardening in the Conservatory to educating guests about our history, from leading bird walks in the Meadow Garden to making ornaments with our Christmas display team, from conducting research with our archives team to identifying plants with our phenology team, from photographing the Gardens to growing and caring for our beautiful display plants, from welcoming our guests and answering questions … the list of their roles never ends nor does their impact on our Gardens.
the Meadow Boardwalk; volunteer Vallerie Hunt crafts a Christmas topiary; W. L. Gore & Associates volunteer shoveling mulch; Bluebird Team volunteers Bob Eaves, Jeannie Ogle, Dick Gies, and Phil Ebert inspect a bluebird house; Bank of America corporate volunteers assist
with seasonal changeover; Volunteer Services Manager Sally Kutyla and Executive Director Paul B. Redman present a 25-year Service Award to volunteer Carol Majors at the 2016 Volunteer Appreciation event; Christmas Decor Team volunteers making
Sally Kutyla, Volunteer Services Manager, says the biggest advancement is in the growth of our Guest Services Volunteer teams. “More than half of all of our volunteers serve in a guest engagement role,” says Kutyla. “This allows us as an institution to make better connections and have a bigger and brighter impact on our guests. Our volunteers help enhance the guest experience, share our Longwood story, and help connect to our community.” Beyond our year-round volunteers, we engage another 300 volunteers who come as part of corporate teams to help with large-scale, one-day projects such as bulb and native grass plantings. Volunteering spans generations, too. Since 2013, our Teen Volunteer Program has accepted 12 new teens annually along with the returning classes of teen volunteers. These teens have the opportunity to work with our docents, horticulture team, and education staff. The program is inspiring teens to look at horticulture as a viable career, something they may not have realized. “We are so grateful for all of our volunteers’ talents, and the energy that they bring to their roles. They are able to explore, learn, and make friends while helping make our Gardens a better place … it’s a win for us all,” says Kutyla.
hand-crafted ornaments for A Longwood Christmas; volunteer Karen Comolli helping a young guest make a paper lantern during Night of 1000 Lights. Photos by Nancy Bowley, Paula ButeraKunkel, Steve Fellows, Steve Fenton, and William Hill.
Volunteer Spotlight In their own words
“Throughout all my volunteer roles, I find joy in seeing that our guests are almost transformed when visiting. I believe it’s the beauty, diversity and scale of Longwood that provides an escape, and gives our guests a chance to relax from their daily routine and issues. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have Longwood in my life. It’s family to me, my other home.” Volunteer Since 2008 Volunteer Teams Conservatory and Meadow Garden Docent, Bluebird Program Leader, Conservatory, and New Volunteer Orientation Leader
Photographs by Heather Coletti. Photo of Heather Coletti by Laurie Carrozzino.
Mary Lou Gantzer
“I have learned a great deal about plants, ecology, and sustainability as a volunteer. I have always enjoyed learning, and find that the learning just continues, even now in my retirement. I have met lots of great people—guests, other volunteers, and Longwood staff. It really feels good when a guest remembers your name, is happy to see you again, and recalls the conversations we have shared in the past.” Volunteer Since 2010 Volunteer Teams Conservatory Docent Team, Meadow Garden Docent Team, and Children’s Garden Team
“I’ve had a love of gardening ever since I was a child…so to get to volunteer at Longwood Gardens and help care for plants such as chrysanthemums, poinsettias, and tulips that are about to make their way into our artful horticulture displays is like living a dream. I get such joy in seeing the plants I know I had a part in helping grow on display in the Conservatory and outdoor Gardens.”
Mary Jane Pahls
“Initially, volunteering at Longwood was a way for me to get away from the computer. Over time it’s become the place where I’ve made wonderful friends, worked with incredibly talented staff and other volunteers, talked to and been educated by people from all over the world, learned new skills, and had more interesting experiences than I could possibly recount.”
Volunteer Since 2004
Volunteer Since 2003
Volunteer Team Horticultural Production
Volunteer Teams Main Conservatory, Orchids, Meadow Bloom Log, Meadow Garden Walks and Hikes Leader, and Horticulture Information Team Leader
“Words can’t express how rewarding it is to have the chance to help guests understand how our Meadow Garden works and why natural lands like it are so important. When our Meadow Garden reopened in June of 2014 so many guests expressed to me how happy they were to be able to visit the Meadow again and how impressed they were with all of the new paths, pavilions, and features.” Volunteer Since 2014 Volunteer Teams Meadow Garden Steward, Conservatory and Meadow Gardener Teams
“Volunteering at Longwood has influenced my life in many ways and has shown me what I want in my life in the future. I want to be a part of a team, and work with people to make something that others can enjoy. I want to be able to work in an environment like Longwood, where everyone is friendly, creative, passionate, and energetic … There is so much planning, creativity, and teamwork that goes into making Longwood as successful as it is, and by being a teen volunteer I was able to see and take part in that.”
“What I find so special about volunteering at Longwood is the culture and people. All of the staff are very skilled at what they do … and they are beyond generous with sharing their knowledge and experience. I also can’t forget to mention the beauty of Longwood … I wake up at 6 am with a smile, and am elated to get to go volunteer. It’s joyful walking through the doors.” Volunteer Since 2013 Volunteer Teams Christmas Team and East Conservatory
“Volunteering at Longwood fills my life with beauty, color, and wonder. In working with orchids, I feel like I am traveling around the world since Longwood’s collection spans the globe. What is most special to me, and what I am most grateful for, are the Longwood staff I have the privilege to work alongside… they make me feel like I am part of the Longwood family.” Volunteer Since 2012 Volunteer Teams West Conservatory and Orchids
Teen Volunteer Since 2014
“Guests are usually in a jawdropping, wowed frame of mind when they step into the Orchid House. I’ve heard guests say, “Look at all these varieties. Are they really all orchids? Can you believe that color? Maybe I should try growing one again. Let me get a picture. This is worth the price of admission.” It is great to be a part of this display. Having grown orchids for more than 40 years, it is also enjoyable to come in and follow the progress of Longwood’s 5,000-plus plants. As a scientist, I like collecting data, seeing the bloom patterns, and helping to create the digital database. Having pursued photography for most of my life, I also enjoy capturing the beauty, uniqueness, and essence of these flowers in a way that can be shared with all of our fans.” Volunteer Since 2009 Volunteer Teams Phenology (Orchids), and Photography
“For much of my professional life, “Even though my role is “Being a chemical engineer I’ve been an academic. Working strictly behind-the-scenes I have a lot of interest in at Longwood allows me to put with managing volunteer hours investigating and learning to use an entire set of skills that and performing any handyman new things like geology and I value but can’t fit into other work at student housing on biology. At Longwood I have areas of my life. It also allowed Red Lion Row, I still get the had the opportunity to pursue me to be the student instead same satisfaction as our these interests in a beautiful of the college professor. I love volunteers who get to interact outdoor setting and I get to help volunteering at Longwood for with our guests on a daily Longwood at the same time.” the same reason that I’ve loved basis … I feel like what I do Volunteer Since 2009 working at a university: it’s a is important and allows the Volunteer Teams hive buzzing with some of Longwood employees to focus Phenology, Flower Garden Walk, the hardest workers and most on their core responsibilities to and Meadow Garden amazing creative thinkers I’ve make Longwood one of the great ever met.” display gardens of the world.” Volunteer Since 2014
Volunteer Since 1995
Volunteer Teams Photography and Longwood Blogger
Volunteer Teams Volunteer Records Management and Student Housing Maintenance
Wan Yin Jung
“Although I love working in all different areas of the Conservatory, I especially like volunteering in the Fern Passage as I am an avid enthusiast of a particular fern family commonly known as staghorn ferns. As someone who grows these ferns and has a small collection of different species of this family, I am able to learn about other ferns. It has given me a greater appreciation of fern culture, growth, and plant diversity. In appreciation of everything that volunteering at Longwood has meant to me, I donated one of my staghorn fern species, a Platycerium elephantotis that Longwood did not have in its collection.”
“One of the many reasons I enjoy volunteering at Longwood is that I have the unique opportunity to share with our guests information about the beautifully restored 10,010-pipe organ from 1929 and tell them about Pierre S. du Pont and the legacy that he left … The scope and breadth of The Longwood Organ is truly amazing. The smile on our guests’ faces when it is playing and the music itself always brightens my day.”
“I am an avid birdwatcher, and first starting going on monthly bird walks that Larry Lewis led back in the late 1980s. In 1991 when it was announced Longwood was creating a Birding Team, I jumped at the chance to be a volunteer—and I’ve enjoyed sharing my passion by leading bird walks ever since.” Volunteer Since 1991 Our longest serving volunteer Volunteer Team Bird Team Leader
W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
“Volunteering gives our associates a chance to work side by side in a beautiful setting. Our associates love gleaning tips from Longwood experts as we weed, mulch, prune, and deadhead together, and more. At the end of the day, our Gore associates feel like they’ve helped contribute to the success and beauty of Longwood… which is truly amazing.” Corporate Volunteer Partner Since 2008
Volunteer Since 2012 Volunteer Teams Visitor Center Garden Ambassador, Organ and Pipes Gallery Docent, Photography, and Garden Railway
Volunteer Since 2013 Volunteer Teams West Conservatory and Orchids
Corinthian column capital, limestone, circa 1930, from the Love Temple. Originally sited on the West Game Lawn of the Main Fountain Garden, Pierre du Pont purchased the structure in 1933 for $2,500 from the William H. Jackson Company of New York City. A letter in Mr. du Pontâ€™s correspondence file refers to a Pergola with a handwrought dome and orsera stone base. The components of this Love Temple, including the large iron dome, have been in storage at Longwood since the 1990s. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives. Photo by Daniel Traub.
Meet some of the talented tradesmen whose work is integral to our Gardens’ beauty. By Lynn Schuessler Senior Plumber Bret Shelly in the Italian Water Garden, checking to ensure every nozzle is “lined up perfectly” and functioning properly.
Photographs by Daniel Traub
Art of the Trades 18
It’s 7:00 am and Wayne Bender, Mechanical Section Lead, is wrapping up a twelve-hour shift of checking gauges, monitoring draft pressures, and looking for anomalies that might hint at trouble in the three boilers and half-mile maze of pipes that circulate heat through the Conservatory. Not only is Wayne at home here—he lives on the grounds and is often called if a problem arises—but he is also in his element. Wayne’s element is steam, and his job is to keep the plants warm. After 25 years, he knows the system—how it works, how it breaks, how to fix it. Like many Longwood tradesmen, he reaped his knowledge through education; through 20
mentoring, working alongside Ed Detwiler, John Kerr, and Jack Strouth before they retired; and through a wealth of on-thejob experience. The heat plant at Longwood includes three pumps that bring water to the boilers, where flames burn at 2,000 degrees to create the steam—1,600 cups of steam for every cup of water—that powers its way by virtue of its pressure to every indoor garden. It includes the air valves and thermostats and the distinctive whoosh in the greenhouses as steam gives up its heat and water is reclaimed. It includes the snow melters where glass walls meet roofs; it includes the warm radiators beneath your feet.
“If we lose steam midwinter, we lose the plants, and we can’t get them back. We can never let the heat fail.” —Wayne Bender, Mechanical Section Lead
Left: Wayne Bender in his element —the Boiler Room of the Conservatory. Below: The “K-3” boiler, one of three boilers that circulate heat through the Conservatory.
Wayne’s four-man team works 12-hour shifts, alternating a month of nights with a month of days from late September through mid-May. Over the previous six months, they produced 37 million pounds of steam, using three-and-a-half million gallons of water, 88 percent of which was recycled. Wayne is proud of the boiler room’s uptime. “If we lose steam midwinter we lose the plants, and we can’t get them back. We can never let the heat fail.” If the Facilities Department at Longwood Gardens is a round-the-clock operation, it also covers a lot of ground. “We’re our own little town,” says Senior Electrician Benny 21
Rigoroso, “with our own water supply, sewer, and electrical substation.” Add to that the skill set of its tradesmen, an infrastructure as extensive and as integral to Longwood’s operation as its physical plant. When he started in 1996, Benny knew he could depend on the expertise of John Miller (now Electrical Lead). “But I also dug into stuff myself, to build confidence. At first, whenever I was on call, I was uncomfortable. Later, I wanted to get the calls.” Like the Christmas evening when a power blip threw the Gardens into darkness, or the Memorial Day Weekend when a fountain pipe broke and flooded the pump house. Benny has always loved the fountains. Before the Main Fountain Garden controls and lighting could be updated in 1999– 2000, he spent two-and-a-half months tracing wires, since things had changed here and there over the Garden’s 70-year life span. With the current revitalization project, Longwood has constructed a new electrical substation to support the fountains, existing Gardens, and all future growth within the Master Plan. That’s part of the challenge and charm of working at Longwood—“the infrastructure ranges from the early 1900s to modern technology, so you have to be able to shift gears from a 1930s starter in the boiler room to a new variable-frequency drive.” At least Longwood no longer uses manholes; Longwood has designed electrical control rooms that are built into the ground and look like part of the Gardens. “You open a door and walk in. They’re clean, safe, and well lit.” “Most people don’t understand the magnitude of the infrastructure,” says Benny. “A great part of our job is meeting people and explaining what it takes electronically to run a garden of this size.” Senior Plumber Bret Shelly says that running a greenhouse takes a lot of
problem-solving. He describes his 30 years at Longwood as “fun and frustrating, challenging and rewarding.” Although he completed an apprenticeship in pipe fitting at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Bret says that Longwood Gardens, with its fountains and waterlily pools, requires on-the-job learning. “They say you can stick a man on an aircraft carrier and it will take him a week to find his way out. It’s the same here.” He credits Brian Vahey, who still works at Longwood part-time, with teaching him to slow down, look, and listen until he figures out the problem at hand. Over the years Bret has brainstormed such mysteries as faulty check valves that caused the irrigation system to dilute fertilizer lines; the hookup of effluent irrigation to outdoor gardens; the backup of water in lily pools; and deteriorating bathroom pipes. “There’s so much old stuff around here,” says Bret. With the old Main Fountain Garden, for example, “we had to make parts if something broke —we couldn’t buy them.” He says the new Fountain Garden will be amazing and will require a lot of retraining, “with new nozzles we’ve never experienced.” Bret speaks of a push for perfection at Longwood that is always on display, but the elements of which are often hidden from view. The Italian Water Garden, for instance, which he was about to test for the current season, is breathtaking because “every nozzle is lined up perfectly.” Besides pipes and wires, infrastructure at Longwood includes metal, wood, stone—materials that provide form and frame, texture and structure—the often unseen branches upon which the artistry of the Gardens unfurls. In the metal shop, Senior Mechanic/ Fabricator Dave Beck shapes steel that supports the symmetry of our Thousand Bloom Mum, the drape of an orchid curtain Senior Electrician Benny Rigoroso threading conduit on a Ridgid power threading machine in the electric shop.
“Most people don’t understand the magnitude of the infrastructure. A great part of our job is meeting people and explaining what it takes electronically to run a garden of this size.” —Benny Rigoroso, Senior Electrician
in Exhibition Hall, and the twine of vines over arbors in our East Conservatory. Dave apprenticed with Bob Nead before Nead’s retirement in 2001, and then partnered with Jack Carrigan—someone Dave looked up to—until Dave Thomson filled Carrigan’s footsteps eight years ago. Beck’s first project, the espalier in the Estate Fruit House, was also his most memorable. “I had to push through it hard to figure it out,” he says. Today’s guests still enjoy this two-dimensional wire landscape of nectarine branches, blossoms, and fruit. “Most guys get into metal for its mechanical aspect,” says Dave. But Longwood bridges mechanics and aesthetics. About five years ago, Dave traveled to Japan with Horticulture Technical Specialist Yoko Arakawa to learn, from the masters,
the art of making frames for the Thousand Bloom Mum. He took photographs, made sketches, then sculpted his knowledge into the system that Longwood uses today. In turn, Dave enjoys sharing practical knowledge with Professional Gardener students as they plan their Student Exhibition Garden, a project that encourages them to blend hardscape and sculpture into garden design. One such sculpture sits outside his shop window, because he can’t yet bear to turn it to scrap. In the front of the shop sits a large loader bucket he’s fixing for a machine that makes compost. On a smaller scale, an 18-inch hanging basket—a staple of Longwood’s floral displays—is in need of repair. Surrounding these metal objects are the machines that made them: bandsaw, belt sander, tig (tungsten inert gas) welder,
lathe. “No CNC (computer numeric control) machines here,” Dave says proudly. “All manually operated machines in this shop. Human hands need to touch something for it to be art.” Sometimes a design idea comes to Ken Stapleford as a computer-aided drawing, sometimes as a napkin sketch. Either way, it’s his job as Lead of the Finishes Section, which includes carpentry and painting, to “put the nuts and bolts to an idea and get it done on time.” Barely fitting inside Ken’s shop are the nuts and bolts of an arch, a mock-up for this year’s Chrysanthemum Festival. “Ninety percent of displays use mock-ups,” he explains, “to get a sense of scale and to see what the display will look like.” Ken puts effort into each one, hoping to use it in the final product.
“No CNC (computer numeric control) machines here…All manually operated machines in this shop. Human hands need to touch something for it to be art.” —Dave Beck, Senior Mechanic/Fabricator
Ken came to Longwood in 1993, learning from Roy Simmers, John Yoder, and Dave McCleary. “Some guys don’t share secrets,” he says, “but they were happy to share everything they knew.” The equipment he uses dates from the late ’60s and early ’70s. “I like the feel of doing things the old way,” says Ken. “But you need to know the old and the new, so I keep up on trade shows for the latest technology.” The old and the new sit side by side at Longwood, and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. Like the bookcases Ken made for the 2008 Music Room Christmas display. “The objective was to make it look like they’d always been there,” to make something new look old. Then there are the four giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum), planted by
Pierre S. du Pont in the 1930s. Due to decline, the trees were removed from Conifer Knoll in 2012 and the wood sat uncut, awaiting the perfect use—awaiting the Beer Hut, which Ken’s team built for the opening of Nightscape in 2015—when something old became something new. “We’re very fortunate,” says Ken, “to have the resources we do—materials, craftsmen, good attitude. We don’t have to cut corners. Perfection doesn’t come for free.” Civil Section Lead Bob McLimans heads up the equipment operators and stone masons who sweep and haul snow from the parking lots and maintain a myriad of stone walls and walkways before Longwood guests arrive each day. “But we’re not just equipment and walls,” he says. “We work on irrigation lines with plumbers, cultural storage with archives,
Opposite: Dave Beck in the metal shop amidst material racks containing a wide variety of structural stainless steel. Right: A 32-ounce cross peen hammer sits atop the metal shop’s 114-pound anvil, made in Sweden by Paragon.
and furniture moves with administration. Every day is an adventure.” The section is housed at Whitewing, a perimeter area that was once a horse farm. Before they could utilize it, they used their cranes to remove the stalls. Bob, who was an equipment operator for the state highway before joining Longwood ten years ago, absorbed the knowledge of Barry Smith, a mason with 30-plus years of experience, and Ralph McKeown, an equipment operator of 43 years. Now he’s trying to extend that knowledge through improved documentation, including use of Standard 26
Operating Procedures and construction photographs. Recently his section dug a trench drain to control erosion in the Meadow Garden, and ran new underground utilities to the Terrace Tent and Beer Garden. They lift pots from the waterlily pools so Senior Gardener Tim Jennings can change the soil; bring refrigerators to the tents for Wine & Jazz; help arborists take trees down and help gardeners put decorations up … and the list goes on. One of the more unusual pieces of equipment Bob has operated at Longwood was a Zamboni, to smooth the ice rink
by the Chimes Tower about ten years ago. Where does a public garden find a Zamboni? Well, if you’re Longwood, you make one—out of a used golf cart and a scraper that was probably fabricated in the metal shop. “As long as you work at Longwood, you’ve never seen it all.” Without the strength of our unseen infrastructure, the beauty of our Gardens would itself remain unseen—a designer’s dream, a drawing on a napkin. In all, our Facilities Department includes 50 men and women whose skills make the finished product look seamless, almost effortless. That’s the art of the trades.
“We’re very fortunate to have the resources we do—materials, craftsmen, good attitude. We don’t have to cut corners. Perfection doesn’t come for free.” —Ken Stapleford, Finishes Section Lead
Above: Bob McLimans, performing an excavation of a leaking underground irrigation pipe at the Nursery using a John Deere mini-excavator and hand shovel. Right: Finishes Section Lead Ken Stapleford in the wood shop.
An Argus sensor monitors a crop of Matthiola ‘Katz Bright Rose’ at Longwood’s production greenhouse facility.
The science and systems behind growing our extraordinary plants. By Ryan Knauer
Photographs by Hank Davis
Oh, the adventures of a Gardener. We all have stories about wildlife, crazy weather, or plant failures for one reason or another. Hopes were high, time and money were spent, and then because of uncontrollable factors, things just didn’t work out. If only you could control all the light, temperature, water, and nutrients your plants get, what would your garden look like then? Well, at Longwood, our growers use science and technology to do just that. Manipulating these factors allows us to create fresh and exciting displays every day of the year. Here is a little insight into the varied and intricate systems and techniques we use to grow crops for display. As all gardeners know, happy plants start with healthy roots. For a crop at Longwood, one of the most important factors affecting root growth is our “growing media” recipe. We don’t see this as just “dirt” or “soil” because we have designed it with specific purposes in mind, and we can adjust it according to the plant’s needs. When designing our growing media, we are primarily thinking about controlling the oxygen, water, chemistry, and biological life around the roots of our plants. It is vital to maintain these optimal conditions for great plant health. For this reason, growers spend a lot of time setting up and controlling conditions within the pot, using various ingredients to strike the perfect balance of minerals, water, and oxygen. Getting this right is also our first defense against root diseases, but to decrease risk we add certain fungal spores to our growing media that compete against harmful fungi and prevent them from infecting our plants. Since we use about 40 different growing media recipes and mix about 600 cubic yards each year, we rely on a custom machine to help us make this possible. The Bouldin & Lawson media machine is computer operated and can make custom mixes using
almost any ingredient available. This gives us the control we want. Even after this, we do regular testing to ensure that the chemistry of our growing media starts and stays in optimal range, because controlling what’s underground pays back in the form of plant growth. Another factor that is always on a grower’s mind when looking at a crop is temperature. With outside temperatures, there is very little to control; we take what we get. This is the major reason why peak color for our spring bulb display varies from year to year. However, with our Christmas display always opening on Thanksgiving Day, you can begin to understand why controlling temperatures for our greenhouse crops is so important. Growers primarily think of and control temperatures in three ways: average daily temperature, soil temperature, and temperature difference between day and night. Average daily temperature of the air within the greenhouse helps us time our plants and the development of flower buds. Maintaining sufficient soil temperature is important for root growth and nutrient uptake and is managed by heating our irrigation water and greenhouse benches. Lastly, setting the difference between day and night temperatures helps us control how tall our plants get. This is a lot of temperature control happening all at the same time, so in our most advanced greenhouses, we rely heavily on programming software made by Argus Control Systems that allows us to manage by computer all the fans, vents, thermal blankets, and steam heat. The result is that sensors control the root and shoot temperatures of our plants day and night. Programming the Argus system also helps us manage the light energy that our crops receive by operating three major pieces of greenhouse equipment either to limit sunlight or add artificial light.
Left: An extensive network of piping throughout the facility delivers heat, water and fertilizer to the crop. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Cooling Pad in background keeps greenhouse slightly cooler than outdoor air temperature; Drip irrigation delivers water and fertilizer to potted plants; Volunteers work under grow lights on an overcast day; Grower Ryan Knauer closely monitors data from the Argus Control System via a desktop work station.
The first, a shade curtain, is used to alleviate plant stress by reducing the amount of bright midday sun. The second piece of equipment is a blackout curtain, which reduces the light inside a greenhouse to nighttime levels. Many plants, such as chrysanthemums and poinsettias, initiate flowering when the nights get long. Blackout curtains prevent problems from artificial light pollution and can trick plants into flowering at unnatural times of the year. Grow lights are often used for the opposite effect (to keep plants from flowering) but can also add more light energy for plant growth when sunlight levels are low. To control this equipment, growers are always thinking about light in two ways: intensity and accumulation. It’s similar to thinking about rain. If it’s pouring rain, we think about how fast rain is falling; this is similar to light intensity. If it rains all day, we think about how much is in the rain gauge; this is similar to light accumulation. The Argus system measures light in these two ways and uses these readings to close shade curtains when light intensity is too high and to turn on lights when light accumulation is lower than the plants would prefer. Although there is no great substitute for quality sunlight, growers use these tools to control plant growth and flowering throughout the year. Longwood’s growers use sophisticated technology and techniques to control plants even beyond what is mentioned above. This helps us manage our crops efficiently and effectively and makes us capable of growing plants when others cannot. However, with more than 1,000 floral crops grown here each year, our team of growers will always be busy solving problems and nurturing plants. Art, science, and technology coincide in our production greenhouses, and impact almost every display our visitors enjoy.
â€Świth more than 1,000
ďŹ‚oral crops grown here each year, our team of growers will always be busy solving problems and nurturing plants.
This page, clockwise from top left: Intern Ryan Kniola loads perlite into the Bouldin & Lawson media mixing machine; growing media travels along belt; the final mix is dropped into a hopper capable of holding one cubic yard of media.
Since we use about 40 different growing media recipes and mix about 600 cubic yards each year, we rely on a custom machine to help us make this possible. 32
Opposite: In spite of all of the automated technology on hand, much of the day-to-day effort still requires a human touch. Here, grower Gale Brewer removes male flowers of Pericallis â€˜Longwood Blueâ€™ to control cross-pollination. Seed from these plants will be used to grow future crops.
The Fountains of Longwood: Part Four
Mystic Grandeur Encouraged by the success of Longwood’s other fountains and surrounded by the endless optimism of the Roaring Twenties, Pierre du Pont decided to create the ultimate fountain spectacle. By Colvin Randall
In 1928, Pierre S. du Pont purchased what was probably the largest boxwood ever moved—12 feet high, 25 feet in diameter, 75–80 feet in circumference, with a 13.5-foot-diameter root ball 3 feet deep. It supposedly had been brought from England in 1720. It cost $8,250 and took Lewis & Valentine three days to dig and load and three days to move 46 miles in a 40-ton-capacity dray from Ella Ball’s country residence five miles west of Lancaster in East Hempfield Township. The August move was featured in the local papers, where it was noted that the boxwood had a State Police escort, 16 attendants, and its own publicity manager. It was planted as the centerpiece of the future fountain garden. By this time, encouraged by the success of Longwood’s other fountains and surrounded by the endless optimism of the Roaring Twenties, Pierre decided to create the ultimate fountain spectacle inspired by his recollections of various world’s fairs, especially the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, and by European gardens.
In oral histories by the men who built the fountains, there is the occasional mention of how Mr. du Pont virtually improvised the layout, telling the men to construct this or that without explaining how the individual parts related to the whole. However, the earliest drawings, from June 1929, suggest that Pierre worked with his top men to create an integrated system which, nevertheless, freely evolved as ideas arose. Men lower down the ladder were not as privy to as much information. Mr. du Pont’s hydraulic concept for the new system reflected, at least partially, what he had seen in Europe, especially at Vaux-le-Vicomte in 1925, although he contemplated but discarded that concept when building the Italian Water Garden and Open Air Theatre. When designing the new installation four years later, he returned to the idea of an elevated reservoir at the highest nearby spot, on the hill south of the Rectangular Basin. One, two, or three 100-HP, 4,000-GPM pumps filled a 42,600-gallon hilltop reservoir through four 15-inch pipes that were buried in the
Left: Guests atop the Loggia enjoy a nighttime display, Main Fountain Garden, 1958. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives. Right: Large boxwood near Lancaster, PA, purchased by Pierre du Pont for the Main Fountain Garden, 1928. Image from photo album titled “The Development of Longwood Gardens prepared for Mr. and Mrs. P.S. du Pont compliments of Lewis & Valentine Co.”
Right: Simplified illustration explains the basic hydraulic system for the Main Fountain Garden. The reservoir located under the Eye of Water is part of the original 1929–31 construction, although the Eye was not inaugurated until 1968. Illustration by Rebecca Clarke
Mechanical Statistics Entire system holds 675,000 gallons Recirculates 10,000 gallons per minute during full display 18 pumps range up to 100 HP each There are 229 separate jets, 151 scuppers and spouts Two 40 HP air compressors help propel the 20 largest jets 17.3 million display combinations are possible during a 30-minute evening display
Left to right: Chimes Tower elevation, 1929–1930. Pierre du Pont snapshot of Vauvert Tower at ChâtillonColigny, July 13, 1925.
hillside. Through “tee” connections, these same pipes also ran to a 36-foot × 30-inch header (a giant manifold or supply pipe) in the Pumphouse, to which all the fountain displays and their booster pumps were connected. The water in the header was under “head pressure” because it was supplied from the hilltop reservoir, and the pressure was enough to give a substantial daytime display through gravity flow, although the reservoir had to be continually resupplied by the 100-HP pump(s). When various booster pumps were turned on for a full or nighttime display, they boosted the already pressurized water even more, so that it shot up to 130 feet into the air. Water pumped up to the hilltop reservoir that was not needed for the fountain display overflowed into the stream that supplies the waterfall. This was an ingenious solution, so that it was not necessary to know exactly how much water was needed for the changing fountain displays, as long as the minimum was maintained—an intentionally imprecise system with a large margin for error, considering the varying water needs as different displays were turned on and off. The majority of construction was carried out from July 1929 through August 36
1931. An east/west Upper Canal nearest the Conservatory was built adjoining an existing boxwood hedge. A water stairs (replaced by a regular stairway in 1935) spilled from the center of the Upper Canal into a north/south canal that divided around the massive single-specimen boxwood. The water flowed into the Lower Canal which runs east/west with 60-foot Round Basins at either end. South of the Maple Allée, an arched retaining wall was built into the hillside. Behind it, to the west, the Pumphouse was constructed, and above it a large Rectangular Basin was filled with nozzles, plumbing, and lights. Pierre initially contemplating making this a swimming pool with a wave-making machine like one he had heard about in Budapest, but in the end the idea was abandoned, much to the disappointment of some employees. Pierre built the Pear-Shaped Basin as the main reservoir for the fountains, with an impressive manmade waterfall at the south end. Two hundred pounds of dynamite were purchased in April 1929 and digging and blasting revealed rock which was used to build surrounding retaining walls and the concrete-and-stone Chimes Tower in 1929–1930. The Tower was likely inspired by a similar tower at Châtillon-
Coligny on the Loing River in France, which Pierre visited in 1925, with the addition of 25 tubular chimes costing $15,850 from the J.C. Deagan Company of Chicago. At least one retiree who helped build the fountains recalled tipping large barrels of water at the top of Longwood’s new cliff so that Mr. du Pont could view the potential results from afar, before the pumps were connected. Between November 1931 and June 1932, the original Pear-Shaped Basin was enlarged to its current dimensions. A flume cascade from the Rectangular Basin to the PearShaped Basin was built in what is now the Hillside Garden between January and June 1932. Large rocks were placed around the edges of the main basin under the supervision of landscape designer Fairman Furness (1889 –1971) from 1931 to 1933. Between 1935 and 1938, the above-ground channel from the hilltop reservoir to the Waterfall was dug to replace a buried pipe, the upper falls were added, and the new hilltop canal was lined with more rocks. Mr. du Pont’s master electrician Phil Brewer kept a fountain notebook that records an orderly summary of the technical development of the Main Fountains. But as then-engineer Knowles “Bus” Bowen noted in 1963, “after we had done the preliminary
Blueprint diagram of Pumphouse layout, December 20, 1930. The 15 Worthington booster pumps shown here supplemented the three main 100-HP pumps (far right) that supplied the hilltop reservoir. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Main Fountain Garden Pumphouse with plumbing in place, but prior to floor slab being poured to conceal pipes, spring 1931. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
computations, we still had plenty of experimenting to do to get the desired results.” From 1929 to 1933, hydraulic calculations and tests were undertaken and the results filled more than 100 surviving pages; of these, 55 included calculations, tables, or annotations in Pierre du Pont’s handwriting. The majority of tests (about 19) focus on the Upper Canal, suggesting that Pierre was interested in getting the correct water flow to the canal using a static gravity flow rather than from booster pumps that shot the jets as high as 25 feet, resulting in excessive splash into the adjacent plantings. But he also needed sufficient flow to ensure that the scuppers and bubblers overflowing into the subcanal attached to the south side of the Upper Canal operated fully. Test after test focused on the flow versus nozzle size. By 1933, the Canals were supplied by static gravity flow from the reservoir (entirely in keeping with Pierre’s philosophy of minimizing pump use for static daytime display), and two of four booster pumps for the Upper and Lower Canals were reassigned to power new Fishtail and Tree Jets (both large fan effects) in the Rectangular Basin, while the other two pumps were set aside as spares. 38
Schutte & Koerting Company of Philadelphia furnished the nozzles for the Main Fountain Garden. The firm was founded in 1876 and specialized in nozzles for industrial applications nationwide, including for the DuPont Company. Pierre had their catalog as early as 1913 when atomizing nozzles were suggested for Longwood’s Open Air Theatre fountains. Between September 1930 and July 1931, he purchased dozens of nozzles from S&K. They were made of virgin metal castings, 85% copper, 5% tin, 5% lead and 5% zinc, which S&K promoted as considerably better than ordinary commercial brass “to give a very enduring job.” Apparently so, as these original nozzles are being used for the rebuilt fountains today. The company is still in business in Trevose, PA. The fountain lights were especially designed and manufactured by Holophane (derived from Greek, meaning “to appear completely luminous”), an Ohio company still in operation. The reflector and lens were combined in a soup-bowl-shaped housing with prismatic reflectors that bounced light out without the use of silvering. The 740 units cost $63,000. The red, blue, green, amber, and clear Pyrex lenses were made by Corning Glass Works to special color specifications and cost
$4,248. Amber was added because it was discovered when building the Open Air Theatre that, despite color theory, primary red and green lights would not produce an acceptable yellow. The control system was a marvel of its time, although Mr. du Pont turned down the opportunity to install one of the first electronic systems by General Electric that used thyratron vacuum tubes. Pierre noted that while “undoubtedly appropriate for a place where regular entertainments are given, it seems to me that the apparatus is too complicated for the more casual work that exists at my country place.” What Phil Brewer developed instead had motorized resistance dimmers, with a wonder of a control board. As Brewer described it, “this control board is divided in two halves. On the left half are arranged, in symmetrical order to conform as nearly as possible to the actual layout of the fountains themselves, 226 small toggle switches, 58 of which energize the banks of large transformers, start or stop the fountain pump motors, open and close motor-operated valves, and even send the waterfall tumbling and splashing down over the rocky face of the cliff. One hundred and five other switches control the light circuits directly, while 25 more switches are used to transfer the
The Main Fountain Garden control board in a New York theatre for testing, 1930. One memo notes the “Remote Control Panel” cost $30,000, but it is not clear if that included the contactors and dimmers in the Pumphouse. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives. Below: The Holophane marine lights had prismatic borosilicate glass reflector/refractors that did not need to be silvered, greatly extending usable life.
By 1933, the Canals were supplied by static gravity ﬂow from the reservoir (entirely in keeping with Pierre’s philosophy of minimizing pump use for static daytime display), and two of four booster pumps for the Upper and Lower Canals were reassigned to power new Fishtail and Tree Jets (both large fan effects) in the Rectangular Basin.
light circuits on or off of the dimmers and cyclic device. The remaining 38 switches are for future expansion. On the right half of the control board are found, in a similar position to their corresponding light circuit switch, 125 small levers which electrically regulate the intensity of the lights on the fountain by controlling the direction and speed of operation of the dimmers in the pumphouse, 500 feet away, as well as permit the selecting of the sequence in which the colors shall follow one another when the automatic cyclic device is in action.” Sculpted stonework is one of the major decorative elements in the Main Fountain Garden, although most was added after the fountains were already in operation. Limestone, both plain and carved, was the chosen material. B. Ridgway & Son from Philadelphia provided all the plain stone, totaling $28,423. A. Olivotti & Co. from Italy, with showrooms in Florence, Venice, and New York, provided the designs and all the carved pieces. Pierre probably began an association with Olivotti in 1913 while in Italy and continued to patronize them every few years into the 1930s. An intensive association began in 1931, when he requested designs for three fountains for the arched Pumphouse Wall. This
blossomed into an enormous sculptural program under the artistic direction of Pietro (“Piero”) Morseletto (1887–1974) from Vicenza, who as a subcontractor supplied Alessandro Olivotti with both designs and carved pieces to sell. Pierre du Pont studied the proposals in great detail and pondered the orders very carefully, more so than for any other aspect of the garden. He even brought “Professor” Morseletto to Longwood in 1931. The resulting stonework was shipped from Italy in hundreds of cases from 1932 to 1935, with detailed drawings showing how it all fit together. In total, Mr. du Pont spent $50,083 with Olivotti, which Morseletto’s descendents credit with saving the family business during the tough Depression years. Today, Laboratorio Morseletto in Vicenza, founded in 1904, has 10 quarries and supplies decorative stone for buildings worldwide. Lewis & Valentine did the initial landscaping for the Main Fountain Garden in 1921–1922. Beginning with the massive boxwood planted in 1928, the garden was greatly embellished through 1935 in what was one of the largest landscape projects of the era, certainly for a private individual during the Depression years. Pierre was in his 60s and couldn’t wait for plantings to mature, so he planted a mature garden. L&V transplanted several hundred specimen 39
Olivotti sculptural stone artistic director Pietro Morseletto, c.1930.
Above: Fountain A, located on the east side of the arched retaining wall, as Olivotti first proposed: “Large fountain facing swimming pool. 25 ft long and 16 ft high. Composed of one middle large basin with vase and top. Two female figures, and base. Carved freeze 6 carved capitols arches and all mouldings of bases as per colored parts on white print [=] $2,550.” Olivotti wrote on print: “Colored parts indicate the pieces that we furnish.” Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Right: Center Fountain C, on the central Loggia of the Pumphouse Wall, as originally proposed by Olivotti, 1931. Colored-in pieces would be supplied from Italy; plain stone would come from the US. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Pierre probably began an association with Olivotti in 1913 while in Italy. An intensive association began in 1931, when he requested designs for three fountains for the arched Pumphouse Wall. This blossomed into an enormous sculptural program under the artistic direction of Pietro (“Piero”) Morseletto (1887–1974) from Vicenza.
Above left: Mock-ups of Fountains A, B, and C with Loggia, September 3, 1931, prior to the visit by Pietro Morseletto. Above right: Well-head assembly as drawn by Olivotti. Above: Finished well-head #2 in Italy, awaiting shipment to Longwood in crates #503–534.
Left: Sketch showing case numbers for double-tier wall fountain components. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Dallin Aerial Survey showing the garden in 1932. Notice the specimen boxwoods in the garden; the Maple Allée not yet opened in the center; and the many new trees around the Chimes Tower. The future Eye of Water is a square pool, and there is no above-ground stream running to the waterfall yet. The future Rose and Topiary Gardens are planted with vegetables.
shrubs and trees to Longwood from estates, nurseries, and from the wild throughout 14 states. Pierre occasionally bought big trees for as much as $3,400 each, but most of the specimens were $275 to $425. He purchased boxwood hedging for $9 to $18 per foot. One memo notes that the 1931 budget for Lewis & Valentine was $33,085, including seven 60-foot white pines for $1,000 apiece. As word got out, Pierre was inundated with offers of plants for sale, especially boxwood, which he let L&V broker. In all, probably $150,000 to $200,000 was spent on landscaping over a seven-year period. In 1937, he noted, perhaps with a tad forgetfulness, “The fountains themselves are of simple design and should cost very little. It is the landscape effect that adds to the total bill.” How much did the Main Fountain Garden cost? In actual dollars, probably about $800,000. It has been estimated that, adjusting for the depressed prices and wages (as low as 50 cents an hour) during the Great Depression, to build the garden today as it was in 1935 without subsequent improvements would cost about $48 million. The illuminated fountains made their public debut after the September 15, 1931, Marine Band concert in the Conservatory. 42
70-foot-tall white pine, being prepped for transplanting.
Original Pear-Shaped Basin before enlargement; three men to right of Tower are planting large evergreen tree, late 1930 or early 1931.
The Wilmington Evening Journal review was glowing: Symphonies of Sound, Color at Longwood Grandeur of New Fountains Follows Marine Band’s Concert Throng Enchanted by Magical Tints Hundreds of persons from this city and vicinity enjoyed the band concerts given yesterday afternoon and last night by the United States Marine Band at Longwood, the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont. A display of the new fountains added enchantment last night …. Following the concert the new fountains in a sunken garden in front of the conservatories were displayed, evoking the admiration of the gathering of spectators. The display came as a surprise as it confronted with its colonnades of color those who emerged from the conservatory where they had enjoyed symphonies of sound. The new fountains, some distance from those at the open-air theatre, and covering a much larger area, in the opinion of many who beheld the gorgeous spectacle, surpass—if such is possible—the effects of the theatre fountains. Standing on the elevated concourse in front of the conservatory, the spectators were afforded a splendid view of the kaleidoscopic play of color as jets of
water tinted delicately as if by the magic of Iris mounted into the air and were wafted away in rainbow mist. Vivid geysers of volcano-like flame blended into subtle shadings of pastel hues, mystically conjured to enchant the beholder, and then suddenly would change into scintillating crystal, and again into pylons of variegated tinge that surpassed any aurora of nature. Throughout the display the carillon south of the fountains tolled out the quarter hours as a magic accompaniment…. In 1938, Pierre noted: “The operation of the electric fountains is by arbitrary process. There seems to be no relation to a sequence or water display. The chief of the electric installations and his assistant are the only two persons who are capable of operating the fountains successfully, but the methods of these two men differ considerably, so that it is possible for the observer to state which of the two is handling a display. There seems to be great latitude for aesthetic effect and artistic feeling. Unfortunately, the necessary concentration on the mechanical movements in connection with fountain operation would detract greatly from the exercise of artistic operation and a person would be obliged to acquaint themselves with the mechanics of the apparatus before
The view in 1921 (left) versus 1939 (above). The latter best captures Pierre du Pont’s vision: tall, spectacular fountains against a deep green backdrop atop a sunken garden of massive, billowy boxwood, defined by a crisp allée of trees. Photo at top by J.A. Dick.
Nighttime display, Main Fountain Garden, 1954. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
he would be in position to attempt the use of more artistic methods.” In 1954, one writer reported: “I asked him [Mr. du Pont] if he still played the console for the fountains. He told me he did not, and that he hadn’t done that for years. There were only two men on the estate who knew how to operate them—Mr. Brewer and another. No one else seemed to be able to master the fountains and that Brewer and the other gentleman didn’t know exactly how they accomplished the results.” In 1933 Phil Brewer summed up the Main Fountains with multi-hued exuberance, writing: “As the red, blue, green, amber and white lights spring into being, or creep slowly up from or return to darkness, or, as the mixtures, shades, tints or blends of these colors turn the stately streams of water into columns of beauty, and the floating masses of gauze-like spray into mystic grandeur, the expressions of appreciation escaping from the lips of the awe-inspired audiences give undeniable testimony as to the magnificence of this man-made wonder.”
In the next issue of the Longwood Chimes: Public fountain displays and post-du Pont transformations.
The Man Behind Pierre’s Fountains
Portrait of Russell P. Brewer by W. Gould White, 1930.
Phil Brewer’s Fountain Notebook Shown here are pages from the fountain notebook of master electrician Phil Brewer. The notebook documents an orderly summary of the technical development of the Main Fountain Garden.
Top: Page 3 of Phil Brewer’s fountain notebook showing the Upper Canal. Originally there were to be 15 spray jets alternating with 14 single jets. Numerous spouts and bubblers overflow into a “ditch” below. Notice the water steps in the center. As finally built, the 14 jets and 14 sprays were paired together. Below: Page 5 of Phil Brewer’s fountain notebook showing the circular canal around the center boxwood and the Half-Round Basin, Lower Canal, and two 60-footdiameter Round Basins. The single jet in the Half-Round Basin became a large fan; the canal jets/sprays were grouped into 16 pairs; and the Round Basin displays are as built.
No one was more instrumental in assisting Pierre S. du Pont to create Longwood’s fountains than Russell P. (Phil) Brewer (1890–1965). Brewer was born April 1, 1890, in Philadelphia but moved to Lewes, Delaware, at the age of three. He graduated from Lewes’ Union High School and took night classes at Drexel College in electrical engineering. He worked as an electrician’s helper for companies in Philadelphia from 1911 through 1913 then started his own electrical contracting business in 1914. At the suggestion of Pierre’s chauffeur Charles Mason (Phil’s boyhood friend), Phil began working for P.S. du Pont on August 1, 1915, maintaining motors and pumps. He married Julia Brown in 1917 then enlisted in the US Army on December 1, 1917, serving with the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps until his discharge after the armistice in November 1918. He returned to work for Mr. du Pont and eventually created and headed Longwood’s Maintenance
Department. He retired in 1960 at age 70. An interesting footnote is that his sonin-law was astronaut Alan Shepard (1923–1998), America’s first man in space. Phil, like a few other top employees, developed a close working relationship with Mr. du Pont, who turned much of the fountain development over to him. As Phil noted in 1960, “I have expressed in the past and here repeatedly my sincere appreciation of the privilege I have had in being closely associated with Mr. Pierre S. du Pont for almost forty years. This association was equal to a college education—which I had not had—and enabled me to build up the Maintenance of Longwood from a one man job to a department of over seventy faithful, sincere and capable fellow workers.” Phil Brewer kept a small notebook on the development of both the Open Air Theatre Fountains and the Main Fountains. It provides complete technical insight into the original concepts and equipment specifications.
“I have expressed…repeatedly my sincere appreciation of the privilege I have had in being closely associated with Mr. Pierre S. du Pont…. This association was equal to a college education…and enabled me to build up the Maintenance of Longwood… to a department of over seventy faithful, sincere and capable fellow workers.” Phil Brewer at the original Main Fountain Garden control room console, 1958. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Page 4 of Phil Brewer’s fountain notebook showing the Upper Canal in section, with the overflow pool to the
right. The “bubblers” on the south side were likely inspired by the Avenue of a Hundred Fountains at the Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy.
Phil Brewer’s original fountain notebook shows that the Rectangular Basin began as an oval, 1929.
Building the Upper Canal, October 21, 1929, in alignment with existing boxwood hedge.
A Membership Moment From a few ‘Good Neighbors’ to 65,000 ‘Members,’ a look at Gardens membership.
While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many. — Lady Bird Johnson Members give meaning to our Gardens. Some walk daily, some bring their kids to play in the treehouses or frolic in the Meadow Garden, some take classes or attend concerts, and some shop and dine with us regularly. Through all of these activities, Members add to the spirit of our special place and we hope all understand the importance of keeping alive the legacy of Pierre S. du Pont.
The history of our Membership program dates back to the late 1970s. For close to 20 years it was called the ‘Good Neighbor Pass’ or ‘Neighborhood Pass’ with thousands of locals taking part in the pass privileges. In 1991, the ‘Frequent Visitor Pass’ was born growing the number of Passholders to 16,000 households by 2008. As the Gardens continued to grow with new exhibits, enhanced horticulture, and a new strategic plan, a more formalized Membership program launched in 2008. Today, we welcome more than 65,000 Member households who show their love and support of our Gardens through their annual Membership.
Membership Facts Current Member Households
States where we have active Members
Countries where we have active Members
USA Canada Australia France Italy Japan The Netherlands Norway United Kingdom Switzerland
(all 50 states, except Alaska, Mississippi,
Current Members who have been Members for 5 years or more
21,000 Percentage of annual visitation by Members
50% Opposite: Collage of Membershiprelated items from the early years of the program including: Annual Neighbor Pass, 1980; Annual Neighbor Pass, 1982; Longwood Gardens Neighbor News, Issue #2, February 1980; Longwood Gardens Passwords, Issue No. 37, June 1995. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Member average visits per year
and South Dakota)
Cities with the most active Members
Wilmington, DE West Chester, PA Kennett Square, PA Newark, DE Philadelphia, PA
Of Fountains and Fortunes
Opposite: The illustration features coins collected from the following countries: Botswana, Brazil, China, France, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Ukraine, and United Kingdom. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives.
Illustration by Morgan Cichewicz
Tossing coins into a fountain to invite good luck is an enduring tradition in many cultures. Every day our staff see this tradition represented in shimmering bits of metal at the bottom of each fountain. Although we donâ€™t encourage the practice, with more than one million guests a year, the coins add up. A team of volunteers periodically assist the staff in removing the coins from the fountains to prevent damage to mechanical and drainage systems. The reclaimed U.S. coins support programs. The foreign coins, however, cannot be exchanged for U.S. currency. A few years ago the Longwood Archives started collecting these orphaned coins. For the Archives staff each coin represents more than its monetary value. These coins symbolize our many international guests who have traveled far to experience our Gardens. Currently the Archives holds coins from 47 countries. We hope wishes do come true, and we thank our guests for leaving a little bit of themselves behind at Longwood Gardens.
No. 293 Summer 2016
Cover Elevation showing limestone components and dimensions for Fountain A, Main Fountain Garden, by Olivotti & Co., Italy, 1930. Each element is numbered to facilitate uncrating and assembly in its final location in the southeast corner of the Main Fountain Garden, facing the Turtle Pool. Wooden drafting triangles, early 20th century, are believed to have belonged to Pierre S. du Pont. Longwood Gardens Library & Archives. Photo of drafting triangles by David Ward. Inside Covers Superintendent William Ingram in the Conservatory Boiler Room, 1926. Ingram started on January 8, 1921, and first worked for Longwood Farms as a Laborer. He was later moved to the Greenhouse Division after the construction of the Conservatory. He was listed on payroll records as an Engineer, Greenhouse. Longwood staff members Dick Way (left) and George Earle, Sr. servicing compressor in the Main Fountain Garden Pump Room, 1958. Photo by Gottlieb Hampfler.
Editorial Board Aimee Beam Marnie Conley Patricia Evans Steve Fenton Julie Landgrebe Colvin Randall NoĂŤl Raufaste David Sleasman James S. Sutton Matt Taylor, Ph.D. Brian W. Trader, Ph.D.
Contributors This Issue Longwood Staff and Volunteer Contributors Kristina Aguilar Plant Records Manager Morgan Cichewicz Graphic Designer Heather Coletti Volunteer Photographer Hank Davis Volunteer Photographer William Hill Volunteer Photographer Shawn Kister Grounds Division Leader Ryan Knauer Senior Gardener Maureen McCadden Digital Resource Specialist Sandy Reber Archives and Research Assistant David Sleasman Library & Information Services Coordinator Judy Stevenson Archivist David Ward Volunteer Photographer Other Contributors Larry Albee Photographer Rebecca Clarke Illustrator Laurie Carrozzino Photographer Lynn Schuessler Copywriter Daniel Traub Photographer
Distribution Longwood Chimes is mailed to Longwood Gardens Staff, Pensioners, Volunteers, and Chimes Tower Level Members and is available electronically to all Longwood Gardens Members via longwoodgardens.org. Longwood Chimes is produced twice annually by and for Longwood Gardens, Inc.
Contact As we went to print, every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of all information contained within this publication. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. ÂŠ 2016 Longwood Gardens. All rights reserved.
“Besides pipes and wires, infrastructure at Longwood includes metal, wood, stone—materials that provide form and frame, texture and structure—the often unseen branches upon which the artistry of the Gardens unfurls.” —Lynn Schuessler, from Art of the Trades, page 20
Longwood Gardens is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, inspiring people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education, and the arts.
Longwood Gardens P.O. Box 501 Kennett Square, PA 19348 longwoodgardens.org
Pierre S. du Pont was an engineer at heart. His passion for technology and innovation is evident throughout our Gardens and is a driving for...
Published on Jun 28, 2016
Pierre S. du Pont was an engineer at heart. His passion for technology and innovation is evident throughout our Gardens and is a driving for...