Lakes District

Aerial view of green areas with a small lake to the left and a larger lake to the right

The Lakes District, with its postcard-perfect scenery, is known to spark a distinct state of serenity. Open vistas, rolling green lawns, sparkling water, and splashing fountains recall a Victorian holiday from days gone by, reminding us of the joy of fresh air, a nice walk, and an exquisite view.

About This District

This area, which includes the Italian Water Garden and the Large and Small Lakes, reflects two of our founder Pierre S. du Pont’s passions: the beauty of water, and his delight in providing spaces for public enjoyment. Soon after he purchased the property in 1906 he began restorations to this area. The Large and Small Lakes provide open, spacious views, which serve as a welcome moment of decompression after leaving the more intimate pathways of Peirce’s Woods and Peirce’s Park. In 1925 Pierre embarked upon the construction of the Italian Water Garden, which added contrasting elements of formal design to the more naturalistic setting of the surrounding landscapes. In 2008, we added a new surprise for guests to enjoy–the Canopy Cathedral Treehouse.

Gardens in this District

  • Italian Water Garden
    A long rectangular water garden of five pools and multiple fountains extends out in a large area surrounded by green trees under a blue sky

    Italian Water Garden

    Enclosed by pristine allées of littleleaf lindens and mature evergreens, this formal space, with its symmetrical blue-tiled pools and splashing fountains, offers the allure of a secret garden.

  • Large & Small Lake
    A small stone decorative structure is seen across a large lake surrounded by green trees

    Large & Small Lake

    Take in the expansive views of rolling green lawns, midnight-blue water, and trees that reach for the sky. Nearby Cathedral Canopy Treehouse offers a chance for inspired exploration and new-found vistas.

What’s in Bloom

  • Sweet Pepperbush

    Clethra alnifolia ′Hummingbird′

    ‘Hummingbird’ is a dwarf selection of the deciduous shrub Clethra alnifolia that displays full-size flowers on a compact three foot plant. The flowers release a wonderful scent when the upright panicles bloom from July to August. Sweet pepperbush prefers moist soil in dappled sun but will tolerate a little less light or even full sun and is hardy from USDA zones 4 to 9.  This American native is deer resistant and is a vigorous spreader.  It also attracts butterflies.