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

 

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

 

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Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)

 

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Dwarf Iris

 

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A patch of dwarf Iris in blue — so cute

 

flameazalea

Flame Azalea bloom about to open.

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Unfurling fern

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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

 

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

 

bluebellsferns

Virginia Bluebells, Wood Poppies, unfurling ferns

 

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Dogwood path

Aromatherapy

peony3Things have been rough at work lately.  Test scores have plummetted, students are troubled, many teachers are talking mutiny or early retirement.  Morale is generally in the toilet.

On the drive home from work, I find that stopping for a large chocolate chip cookie and a Frappuchino from Starbucks is often just the pick-me-up I need to transition from work to home, where I will be greeted by a gregarious old yellow lab and a still-very-wiggly seven-year-old boy, both of whom will be requesting play and attention.  (The martini, slippers, and newspaper are nowhere in sight!)

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Capability Gray

I may not be installing giant lakes, building fake temples, or displacing villages full of peasants, but I have been improvin’ my landscape lately, indeed I have.

First, an update on the play structure thingee I started building in February.  To refresh your memory, here is what it looked like several weeks ago:

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Garden Designers’ Roundtable: Memory and Plants

I’ll I’ll be honest.  I had a hard time figuring out how to approach this topic.  As I have mentioned before, I am New Dirt and not Old Dirt, meaning I do not come from a long line of gardeners, but rather picked up this obsession at age 36 with no influence from parents or grandparents.  Like Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, my conversion to a life of gardening was sudden and complete.  (Whether or not Constantine was pruning Euonymus at the time of his revelation, as I was, is not clear.)

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The Election 2012 Garden Mash Up

Finally, the candidates discuss the real issues.   And just in time for election day, too!

(Oh, I guess I should mention the candidates’ actual words are in white and my very slight modifications are in yellow.)

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Garden Designer’s Roundtable: Garden Travel/Best Gardens

This month’s theme at Garden Designers’ Round Table is Garden Travel/Best Gardens.   Below are links to all the Garden Bloggers who are participating this month, including Special Guest Blogger Fern Richardson, author of Small Space Container Gardens

So put that report aside (or whatever boring thing you’re doing at work) and take some time to cruise around and enjoy a virtual garden tour.  You know you want to!

Huntington Gardens - San Marino, California   (Fern Richardson – Life on the Balcony)

Ruth Bancroft Garden - Walnut Creek, California  (Susan Morrison – Blue Planet Garden Blog)

Garden Visits and Lessons  (Susan Cohan – Miss Rumphius’ Rules

Open Days/Hollister House - Connecticut  (Scott Hockunson – Blue Heron Landscapes)

Private Garden by Zaterre Landscape Architecture - Northern California  (Rebecca Sweet – Gossip in the Garden)

Private Garden - Clifton, UK   (The Hegarty-Webber Partnership)

Tour of Private Gardens – Phoenix, AZ   (David Cristiani – The Desert Edge)

Flora Grubb Nursery - San Francisco, CA  (Gen Schmidt – North Coast Gardening)

Next month’s theme will be “Our Home Gardens” and I’m proud to say that yours truly will be joining the Roundtable Team!

What Can Gardeners Learn from Grizzly Man?

“Human place in nature”  is a topic I’m semi-obsessed with right now, and though it seems sorta esoteric, I think the issue has huge implications for gardeners and designers.

Here’s what got me all stirred up this time.

I just finished showing the 2005 film Grizzly Man to my English classes as part of a unit on documentary film.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, a self-proclaimed “kind warrior” who lived with the Grizzly bears in Katmai, Alaska for 13 summers in order to study and protect them.

Grizzly Man Theatrical Release Poster

Although Treadwell had a genuine love for animals and appeared to have better relationships with the bears than with other humans, he was actually killed and eaten by a Grizzly in October 2003.

Treadwell’s violent and somewhat ironic death is part of what makes the film fascinating, as is the question of whether he was a courageous hero or a lunatic narcissist.  But as I was watching the film with my classes this week, I was more intrigued by something else. 

The director of the film, Werner Herzog, clearly felt that Treadwell was — if not a lunatic — at least a misguided idealist. Though he might have had some sympathy for Treadwell, Herzog did not share the “kind warrior’s” warm fuzzy feelings about the natural world.  In his narration of the film, Herzog makes some bone-chilling statements about nature — statements that are in direct opposition to Timothy Treadwell’s romantic view of wilderness.  After a segment of the film in which a male grizzly kills a cub, Herzog reflects:

“I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.”

When Treadwell looked into the eyes of a Grizzly, he saw a kindred spirit, a friend, a brother.  Herzog saw no such thing, just “the overwhelming indifference of nature.”

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Sunday Rube Goldberg Awesomeness

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