Nemours Mansion & Gardens
Nemours Mansion & Gardens is a 300-acre estate built to resemble a French château with formal gardens in Wilmington, Delaware.
Address: 850 Alapocas Dr, Wilmington, DE 19803
Hours: 11am – 4pm (Tues. – Sat.), 1 – 4pm (Sun.)
Phone: (302) 651-6912
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This was the final stop on a weekend garden tour my mother and I went on at the end of the summer, and we really didn’t know what to expect. After seeing Longwood Gardens the day before, this garden had a lot to live up to. In fact, Nemuors was owned by a cousin of Pierre du Pont, who was the founder of Longwood. The cousin, Alfred du Pont, built this sprawling estate and gardens in order to win the heart of his second wife, modeling the design after the Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles in France.
We chose to skip the mansion and focus on the gardens and were delivered there by a small shuttle bus. We were even guided by a personal attendant who gave us a brief introduction and then proceeded to lurk in the shadows, always just out of sight. I think we managed to lose her after we took a few unexpected wrong turns between garden sections. We wandered around one side of the mansion to discover a handsome parterre (formal French garden) comprised of short, clipped boxwood hedges in symmetrical patterns around a small fountain. There was another section off the side of the house called the Four Borders, named for the beds of mixed herbaceous plants that frame the garden.
The main view off the front of the mansion was a real show-stopper. Perfectly manicured grass on a stepped hill led down to a huge fountain in the center of a large pool. Beautiful marble statues of mythological figures of the four seasons flank the fountain and stand in impressive contrast to the gaudy gold sculpture rising above the clipped arborvitae in the garden beyond. A grand colonnade stands triumphantly in the distance, framing the scene with faux ruins of another world. Some of the elements of the garden are over-the-top, but the overall elegance and beauty even out the whole effect.
As we walked through the colonnade, two grand marble staircases curve down around another huge pool and lead to a lower stretch of lawn accented with plantings of red, pink, and white begonias and edged in boxwood hedges. Beyond this was a quaint little lake with a small bridge that took us to the final stretch of lawn, planted all along with masses of canna lilies and impatiens. At the very end a small temple to Diana the Huntress was just the spot to take shade and gaze back over the long expanse of manicured lawn, fountain, and sculptures, all the way back to the mansion itself.
Final Rating: Due to intense late-summer temperatures, my mother and I were the only people crazy enough to be outside and had the entire garden to ourselves. The appealing expanses and different sections of the long vista kept enticing us onward in spite of the heat. I have never encountered a more pristinely kept garden, there was hardly an errant leaf or pesky weed to be found anywhere. This garden and every element in it was designed to impress and we were quite taken by its charms. FOUR BLOOM RATING