Delaware's largest formal gardens emulate those of Versailles in France. Alfred I. du Pont steadily improved them as the DuPont Company flourished, especially from 1915 on; he was its second-largest shareholder. As seen from the house, the Forecourt Terrace, Tapis Vert, and one-acre Grand Basin (to use A. I.'s names) form a grand vista. Near the Forecourt stand antique garden features imported from overseas, including two marble sphinxes once belonging to French minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert, wrought-iron gates owned by Catherine the Great (c. 1750, Jean Tijou; 2003 restored), and gates from sixteenth-century Wimbledon Manor, England. Blueprints of 1915 show the embellishment of the Grand Basin (Reflecting Pool) and addition of a Maze Garden plus “Pavilion” (called Colonnade when constructed in 1926). At the center of the Maze stands a fountain comprised of a fifteen-ton bowl of red Lavento marble, topped by a sculpture of a heroic male nude, Achievement by Henri Crenier (early twentieth century); these were installed in 1929 when Massena and du Pont redesigned the Maze. In 1932–1933, the gardens were opened as a fundraiser for the restoration of colonial-era Stratford Hall, Virginia, one of many preservation projects in that state spearheaded by A. I.'s Virginia-born third wife, Jessie. In 2003, the old, overgrown trees and shrubs of the Tapis Vert and Maze Garden were entirely replaced. New plants of specimen size were imported from throughout the United States and precisely positioned as to height using a laser measure.
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