My Trip to Mount Cuba Center

Mount Cuba Center, in Hockessin, Delaware (near Wilmington), has long been on my garden visit bucket list.  It is a paradise of native Piedmont plants, and an inspiration for all of us living in “suburban woodlands” here in the mid-Atlantic.

What I learned: the key to a great Woodland Garden is open shade.  They had almost all of their big shade trees limbed way up, plus there were a lot of tulip poplars, which don’t have low limbs anyway.  There was plenty of bright filtered light for the wildflowers to bloom in abundance.

Enjoy the photos!

azalea

You wish the woods in your neighborhood looked like this, instead of being smothered in invasive vines.

 

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Redbud, Fothergilla, Tulip Tree

 

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Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

 

clematis

a native herbaceous clematis with adorable little nodding white flowers

 

amethystshootingstar

Amethyst Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon amethystinum) with Quaker Ladies (Houstonia caerulea)

 

alleghenypachysandra

Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)

 

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Dwarf Iris

 

dwarfiris

A patch of dwarf Iris in blue — so cute

 

flameazalea

Flame Azalea bloom about to open.

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Unfurling fern

ferns

Ferns emerging from Purple Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida) plus some Wood Poppies and Bottlebrush Buckeye in the back.

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They also had fauna.

 

goldenalexanderphlox

Great combo! Golden Alexanders and Woodland Phlox (I think Phlox divaricata)

interruptedfern

I overheard a very intelligent looking lady say this was Interrupted Fern

 

lilackaren

They have a lilac allee there, left over from the orginial duPont garden plan. Here is my sister taking a whiff. Mmmmm.

 

primrose

I love these raspberry colored primroses by the stream.

 

quakerladies

A view toward the meadow with Quaker Ladies in the foreground. I want to come back in the late summer to see the meadow in its glory.

 

samarasculpture

Sculpture of a maple samara that actually moves in the wind — neat!

 

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I believe this is a Southern Red Trillium (Trillium sulcatum) floating over a sea of Rue Anenome (Thalictrum thalictroides?)

 

trilliumdoubleloop

Trillium grandiflorum Double Loop form

 

trilliumwhite

Trillium grandiflorum

 

trilliumunderwoods

Underwood’s Trillium (Trillium underwoodii)

 

trilliumtwisted

Twisted Trillium (Trillium stamineum)

 

trilliumpink

Trillium grandiflorum – pink form

 

trilliumpatch

A patch of trillium, I can’t remember which kind.

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The circular formal garden (another remnant from the original duPont house) was planted out with electric blue delphiniums and the most fabulous array of peach, pink, and yellow tulips of different heights. Awesome!

 

Looking down at the tulips

Looking down at the tulips

yellowmandarin

Yellow Mandarin (Disporum lanuginosum). A unique perennial with delicate little yellowish flowers that hang down….hard to see with the green background.

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Phlox stolonifera with Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids

 

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Woodland path with Purple Pharecia

 

Woodpath

Ferns, woodland phlox, trillium

 

violet

Viola walteri ‘Silver Gem’ — a Mt. Cuba introduction

 

bluebellsferns

Virginia Bluebells, Wood Poppies, unfurling ferns

 

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Dogwood path

Conservation vs. Protection

What’s the difference?

I ask because I came across this quote from Teddy Roosevelt when I visited Roosevelt Island this weekend:

“Conservation Means Development as Much as it Does Protection.”

Coming from the man who established the National Park System, I raised an eyebrow when I read this.  These terms — conservation, preservation, protection, etc. — are pretty slippery.  When you’re talking about actual environmental policy, these words have no concrete definition. Which, come to think of it, is probably why politicians like them.  Politicians are just nuts about abstract language.

[Read more...]

The Heart and Soul of America

If you had to choose one place in the United States that you felt all Americans should visit, one landscape or landmark representative of the “American ethos”, what would it be?

I started pondering that question last week after reading a piece in the great gardening e-mag Garden Drum. The article’s Australian author, Catherine Stewart, writes of her pilgrimage to Uluru (more familiar to us as Ayers Rock), the giant monolith located smack dab in the middle of the Australian continent.

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“Now Entering the Xeric Hardpan Forest”

Recently I purchased and read Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachians and Piedmont.

Now, before you go labeling me as a mega-dweeb, you should know that plant communities are super hot right now. All the coolest middle aged suburban garden bloggers are talking about them and how they can be used as inspirations for design.

Where have you been?

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Tomato Hornworms Provide Bigger Pay-Off Than Actual Tomatoes

At least for my six-year old son. 

When he first spied one of the chubby 3-inch long hornworms among the tomato foliage, he recoiled in horror.

Horror gradually turned to cautious fascination as he helped me find several other hornworms that were feasting on my plant. 

Charlie provides Last Rites to a Tomato Hornworm

Five minutes later he was plucking them off by hand, studying them, getting to know them as individuals, naming them things like “Mr. Chewie” and “Spike”.

Then he happily ushered them into the Lepidoptera Afterlife by submerging them in tub of soapy water.

[Read more...]

Crispy Fried Water Gardens

Yesterday my sister and I visited the beautiful  Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in northeast DC for a photo class.  Even though we got there at 6:45am to get the best light, the air still felt like a wet diaper. 

[Read more...]

Botany Notes

Vicious Baby Bunny Devours Defenseless Wildflower

 

Photo credit: Sally and Andy Wasowski

I’ve been cool with the young bunny that lives in my yard…until yesterday, when I discovered that he’d chewed my brand new, adorable little southeastern native wildflower Marshallia graminifolia down to a nub!!!!  

You tell me which is cuter: the Marshallia or the gluttonous herbivore that feeds mercilessly upon it.  There is no contest!

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