Longwood Gardens is an immense collection of botanical gardens in Kennet Square, PA. It is largely the creation of Pierre DuPont who originally bought the 1,077 acres to preserve the trees growing there. Located in the Brandywine Creek Valley, it is one of the premier display gardens open to the public year-round.
Pierre DuPont, who was 36 years old when he bought the property, did not originally intend the create Longwood Gardens. Within a few years though, he transformed it from a country farm into a leading horticultural display gardens. It was opened to the public in 1921. The Gardens have attracted over 1 million visitors a year since 2012.
We recently visited the Gardens and took a few photos; some are shown below.
The New York Times describes Asheville as a big blue dot amid a sea of red voters in western North Carolina. And it is that. It is also a tourist mecca and home to the Biltmore Estate. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt between 1889 and 1895 it is, according to Wikipedia, the largest privately owned house in the United States and a prominent example of a Gilded Age mansion.
Originally built as a summer home, today with its 250 rooms and 130,000 square feet of living space, it serves as a museum. Vanderbilt commissioned the architect Richard Morris Hunt to design the house, and Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds. Olmsted is famous for his design of Central Park in New York. He also designed Divine Park in Spring Lake, NJ.
We visited the Biltmore and spent a few days looking around Asheville just recently. A few shots from the trip are below.
Fall has finally arrived. This fall the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival returned to Reston Town Center. Sponsored by the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, the festival provides a forum for artists to display their work and offer pieces for sale. This year’s festival was rescheduled from May of 2021 to September 9 though 12 of 2021. All in all a welcome development after last year’s festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A few shots taken at the festival are below. Also include is a photo of looking over Reston West and the changing colors of Autumn.
There is a lot more to see and do on the Outer Banks in North Carolina than just hang out at the beach–which truth be told is pretty enjoyable by itself. There are plenty of other things to see. Among them are the lighthouses at Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras, the Jockey Ridge Sand Dunes, Corolla Park, the town of Mateo and the Roanoke Island Lighthouse. And not too far away is the Kitty Hawk Museum that celebrates the first flights of the Wright brothers. We visited them all. Some photos are below, available for licensing at www.evocativephotos.com.
Summertime and the living is easy. Especially in Duck, NC, where we will be for the rest of July and most of August. The place is hopping. Vacation season is here and it looks like people are making up for the horrible 2020.
The setting is gorgeous; the weather is terrific and there are plenty of excellent restaurants. But to get in, it’s best tp make a reservation well in advance.
We arrived late Friday afternoon and have already gone to some fine restaurants and to the beach. Here are some sunrise photos, beach photos and night photos, with more to come as the month progresses.
We recently traveled back up to New Jersey to attend the wedding of our nephew Kevin McDonald to Becca Lipke. The wedding had actually been scheduled for 2020, but due to the Covid pandemic, it was postponed for a year. With things finally opening up, the wedding went forward.
The ceremony took place at Hudson House on Port Liberte. It overlooks the Hudson River, with spectacular views Manhattan’s downtown skyline, including Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
While we were in Jersey City we took a walk through the Newport section and then the Hoboken train station. Here (below) are some photos from Jersey City and the train station.
In a few short weeks spring emerged in Northern Virginia. Grey is out; green is in. One of the great advantages of Northern Virginia is its great variety of parks and gardens managed by the Fairfax County Parks Authority. From Meadowlark Botanical Gardens to the wetlands in Huntley Meadows Park to the children’s exhibits in Frying Pan Farm Park, there is a lot to see.
And the parks are a great place to take photos. So here below are a few recent ones from Huntley Meadows. More from other locations will be arriving in the coming weeks and months.
The year 2020 is just about gone; a year defined by politics and a pandemic. It is a year that I expect few people will remember fondly.
At the outset of the year most eyes were fixed on the Democratic presidential primary, not to mention the impeachment and Senate trial of President Trump. Who remembers that now? It seems so long ago. But it wasn’t.
By March the year had morphed into one in which the focus became the Coronavirus, taking countermeasures, and a frantic search for a vaccine. Mercifully the drug companies were successful in finding several vaccines, and in record time.
But not before American life turned upside down. Governors began issuing orders, often unilaterally, requiring citizens to wear protective masks, restricting travel and closing all but essential businesses. Essential businesses included state liquor stores and lottery sales. In parts of the country, churches and religious services didn’t count as essential, at least until the courts stepped in.
The travel and hospitality businesses took a giant hit. Plenty of small businesses will never re-open. Big cities took a big hit. Manhattan is like a ghost town; some estimates put office space occupancy at around 12%. People who can work with a laptop and an internet connection are doing so from home. City real estate prices are plummeting; the suburbs are soaring as people look for more space and home offices.
We lost a dear friend in May when Ron Thau passed away after a long illness.
But there is some good news amongst all the doom and gloom.
Amid all the chaos and conflict, the November elections came and went, accompanied by long lines and mail-in ballots. There was a huge turnout; the largest in percentage terms since 1900 when William McKinley thrashed William Jennings Bryan. In that race McKinley won a second term in a rematch against Bryan. Unlike today, Bryan (the loser) accepted the result.
Vaccinations of front line medical personnel began in December. More slowly than hoped for, but the process is now underway.
Most important, two family members (our nephew Tom Benning and our niece Shannon McDonald) announced engagements at Christmas time.
I have included some photos below from 2020 that reflect some of the tumult of the year. Here’s to a brighter 2021.