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Chester County Press

New book highlights Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley 

08/15/2023 04:16PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Longwood Gardens announced the release of Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley, a stunning new book featuring photographs by Larry Lederman and text by Marta McDowell. The book explores the rich history and unique attributes of five former du Pont estates that have become cultural landmarks in the Brandywine Valley, including Hagley Museum and Library, Nemours Estate, Mt. Cuba Center, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and Longwood Gardens. The hardcover book retails for $60 and is available now onsite at Longwood’s Garden Shop and online at

Published by Monacelli, Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley features 240 pages and 220 stunning photographs. The book opens with a preface by Lederman that details his personal experience with the gardens, an introductory essay by Charles A. Birnbaum, President and CEO of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, who writes about the du Pont landscape legacy, and a chapter dedicated to the du Pont heritage of horticulture and stewardship.

McDowell, a garden writer who combines a deep knowledge of garden design and horticulture with a penchant for social history, contributed the book’s thoughtful text, relating the stories of these gardens, both their history and their commitment to the future through strategies for sustainable management and growth.

“The Brandywine Valley is home to some of the most spectacular gardens in the world and so much of that beauty is owed to the thoughtful vision of the du Pont family who created and preserved these estates for all to enjoy,” said Paul B. Redman, President and CEO of Longwood Gardens. “We are delighted to join these other great gardens in celebrating the release of this new book. The inspiring stories by Marta McDowell coupled with the beautiful images by Larry Lederman make this book an inspiring read for garden lovers, landscape designers, and horticulturists.”   

To celebrate the launch of the new book, a book signing and lecture will be held at Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. McDowell will share stories and histories of the gardens, while Lederman will describe his approach and experience photographing these beautiful places throughout the seasons. A selection of photos from the book will be on display. Tickets for the lecture only or including the lecture and a signed copy of the book, are available now on the Winterthur website. 

Since arriving in America in 1800, the descendants of the du Pont family have made their mark as innovative industrialists, generous philanthropists, pioneering preservationists, collectors of American decorative arts, and ecological stewards of natural environments. Longwood’s own legacy finds its beginning interwoven with the du Pont family’s passion for nature and preservation. In 1906, industrialist Pierre S. du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Through that act of preservation, Longwood Gardens was born. In Du Pont Gardens of the Brandywine Valley, readers can view the iconic landscapes of one of the world’s great horticultural displays and its 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, and grand conservatory.

Lederman’s vivid photographs exquisitely capture the beauty and spirit of each place, moving through the seasons and the day from dawn to dusk. With an individual chapter dedicated to each garden, readers will travel to the naturalized woodland at Winterthur, the Beaux-Arts elegance of Nemours, the striking ruins atop ruins of the Crowninshield Garden at Hagley, and the picturesque native plant gardens and scenic trails of Mt. Cuba Center.

About the Authors

Following a successful career in corporate law, Larry Lederman turned to photography as an avocation. From an initial focus on the forms and foliage of trees, Lederman now captures the beauty of gardens and landscapes through the seasons. He is the author of many books, including Magnificent Trees of the New York Botanical Garden, The Rockefeller Family Gardens: An American Legacy, and Garden Portraits: Experiencing Natural Beauty, all published by Monacelli, and the principal photographer for the 125th anniversary edition of The New York Botanical Garden (Abrams).

Marta McDowell is a garden historian and writer whose books include Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, Unearthing the Secret Garden, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. She teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden and is a featured speaker at garden clubs and horticultural organizations.
Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, founder, president, and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, is the editor of Experiencing Olmsted, a survey of parks and public spaces.