We’re lucky to have so many public gardens in our area, and even luckier that several of them focus on showcasing native plants.? We recently got a chance to take a trip to one of these: Mt. Cuba Center in the rolling hills of northern Delaware (no, the state’s not entirely flat – there’s a tiny strip of the piedmont running through the northern tip).
With about 50 acres of woodland, meadow, and wetland gardens, plus a rare all-native formal garden, it’s a great place to appreciate the versatility and beauty of natives.? We visited on its last weekend of the season at the end of October (it will be closed through the spring), but even though the biggest blooms of the summer had past, there was still plenty to see.
One of the cool things they’ve been running for a few years is their trial garden, where they test different species and cultivars to see which are most suitable for gardens in the mid-Atlantic.? So far they’ve released thorough reports on asters, coneflowers, baptisia, coreopsis, and heuchera (though not all of them seem to be currently up on their new website).? I’m looking forward to the upcoming monarda and phlox reports.
As part of Mt. Cuba’s mission, they try to show the versatility of native plants.? To that end, they’ve tried to combat the notion many gardeners have that natives only really work for naturalistic gardens.? They recently re-did the formal gardens directly next to the house with all native plants.? Personally, I’m more drawn to the naturalistic look (hence our decision not to name this blog Highly Cultivated Roots), but I thought they did a great job.? We didn’t get great pictures of the formal garden, but you can see some photos here on their virtual tour, and read more about how they created them here.
They also offer a wide variety of classes and even a certificate program.
We’re excited about heading back next year – if we’re lucky we’ll be able to swing a spring, summer, and fall visit to catch all of the plants at their best.