Pennsylvania Dreaming – part 8

In the midst of all the wonderful West Chester hospitality we had outings for american breakfasts, to buy chocolate, a walk around the park …

“Downtown” West Chester…
Careful with that axe….

Small University Town America…in the hot sun….

One night we were taken for a special treat to Longwood Gardens – – a few miles south-west of West Chester. Arriving just before dusk we walked through the check in building and out into an area of enchanted gardens full of exotic flowers, lakes and water features. To add to the feeling of strangeness we also passed a group of Mennonite women in traditional dress [a slightly more relaxed christian sect than the Amish we had seen earlier].Most of these photos are slightly blurred due to low light levels but they actually reflect the strangely timeless feel of that place….

Mennonite ladies on an evening out..

After a short walk through woodland paths we came out on an area of open meadow where I could hear a Whip-poor-will [like our nightjar], we crossed this, re-entered the woodlands and then joined a gathering crowd heading towards some large wood and glass buildings. The whole atmosphere resembled that of one of my favourite films – Woody Allen’s “Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” – all that was lacking was a Mendelssohn music accompaniment.

The building was a superb series of indoor botanic gardens – with extensive lily ponds at the back. Orchids, cacti in vast rooms easily the equivalent of the Edinburgh Botanics or Glasgow’s Kibble Palace joined together. By this time it was virtually dark outside.

This horticultural marvel and the gardens and woodland outside were the creation of one Pierre Du Pont, a millionaire with a love of horticulture – he created it all to be enjoyed by family and friends but eventually started the development of the modern public gardens that exist today.

The highlight of the evening was about to begin – a huge display of “dancing fountains” with light show and loud musical accompaniment. By this point a large crowd were seated in banks of metal chairs, facing a raised area in the distance but with circular fountains close by. A remarkable show began with spectacular light and water effects. The crowd near us was a bit restless at times, adding to the drama!..Sadly the accompanying music wasnt up to a Mendelssohn score, cheesy disco mainly which took away from the spectacle but still….not something you see every day…many thanks Tim and Marguerite!

..and back home…and off to bed, after a nightcap of liqueur from New York..