Late last year, Maggie Lidz, Estate Historian for Winterthur, called us to see if we would be able to create potted plants for an exhibition on the private, historic gardens of the Brandywine Valley that opens later this month.
Through the use of antique garden furniture, rare color photography and never-before-seen family images of garden life, The Lost Gardens of the Brandywine explores how Wilmington, Delaware became the focal point of horticulture in the United States in the years before World War II. Included in the exhibition is an auricula theater, built specifically to display our plants.
The du Ponts made enormous contributions to horticulture and so we created each plant to represent a member of the family – a rose for Alice, an azalea for Henry Francis, an orchid for Ethel and a number of others.
The first auricula theaters were created in France and Belgium in the 17th century, during the height of tulipomania, to protect delicate flowers such as tulips, carnations and auriculas (where the display gets its name).
When the British became obsessed with the primula auricula in the late Georgian and Regency periods, they built special wooden theaters complete with faux painted arches and curtains to display their cherished plants. One of these original theaters can still be seen at Calke Abbey and newer versions were on display at the Chelsea Flower Show last year.
We look forward to seeing this wonderful display in person when we visit Winterthur for Point-to-Point in early May and are so glad to be part of this great exhibit!