The 1000-acre, private estate of former Governor Pierre S. “Pete” du Pont IV and his wife Elise lies four miles north of Wilmington in a wooded valley along the Brandywine River. The modular, Modernist residence, called Patterns after Amy Lowell’s poem of the same name, was designed in 1964 by architect Ike W. Colburn. Convinced to come out of retirement to design the garden between 1992 and 1998, Dan Kiley created a series of geometric garden spaces on the estate’s steeply sloping terrain. Peter Morrow Meyer executed many of the plan’s concepts after Kiley’s death.
The estate’s name informed Kiley’s design, which employs a wide variety of patterns on the ground plane. At the house’s rear entrance, a gravel court is bisected with a brick and granite-paved walk lined with four stainless steel containers designed by Penelope Hobhouse, planted with Japanese maples. The paving pattern is repeated in a walled patio space containing a lap pool. Square grass panels enclosing gravel circles laid out like a chessboard punctuate another court. A gravel terrace with a granite dining table overlooks a rectangular garden that incorporates broken columns clad with wisteria, woods cleared of undergrowth, and a pond. Nearby, a terraced slope is planted with boxwood and bisected by a staircase. The signature space is a walled potager sited adjacent to a double allée planted along the entrance drive. Enclosed in a nine-foot-high holly hedge, the vegetable garden is bisected by a rill anchored on each end by twelve-foot square pools and large willows.