Horticultural Distance Learning From Mt. Cuba!

Update: I received an email from Mt. Cuba today and they want ya’ll to know that they are open to the public far more often than they used to be.  Here’s what Jeannette Zipf, Mt. Cuba’s Communications Coordinator, told me:

“We are open for public garden tours in spring, summer and fall. Spring tours, which begin on April 12, 2012,  are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10AM, and Saturday and Sunday at 1PM. Summer Twilight tours, Wednesdays and Thursdays, are at 5:30 pm, starting on May 30, 2012. All tours are just $5 per person – isn’t that a bargain? We do recommend reservations as we strive to have enough docents on hand to keep the tour groups small and personal.”

Sounds good to me!

I’ve never been to the Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, but it’s certainly something I’m dying to do.  One of the things that makes a visit difficult is that,  since it is primarily a research facility, Mt. Cuba is open to the public on a limited basis only.

However, as I was perusing their website, I stumbled upon a delightful surprise.  Mt. Cuba is now offering a series of plants classes through their Distance Learning program.  Cool!

For $40, you can enroll in either a Native Ferns class or Hummingbirds for Your Garden, with Moss Gardening and Meadow Plants coming soon.  Everything is self-paced. Just yesterday I enrolled in the Native Ferns class, and though I’ve only just begun to explore the offerings, my impression so far is quite favorable.

Once you’ve paid your fee, Mt. Cuba allows you access to a series of videos, handouts, and other reference materials on the topic you’ve signed up for.  For example, in the ferns class, there are videos covering the fern collection at Mt. Cuba, fern biology, spore propagation, using ferns in the garden, and companion plants.  It’s a fern-nerd’s wonderland!

The quality of the videos is good to excellent, and the level of detail and difficulty seems just right for the “serious amateur” (or the “seriously amateur” if you prefer.)  Now, the videos are only accessible for 45 days, but all of the handouts are printer-friendly, so you can totally geek out and make yourself a nifty little Fern Notebook for future reference.

Sadly, there are no quizzes, so you won’t be able to show off your horticultural genius to anybody but yourself.   Too bad.

Arguably, you could purchase a nice, glossy fern reference book for less than $40, to which you’d have permanent access.  It’s a nice change to receive information in a different format from time to time, though, and I like that this fern course focuses on native ferns that are all suited to my neck of the woods here in the Piedmont.

I tried to embed the nice video overview of the available courses, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.  View it here on Mt. Cuba’s Distance Learning page.

17 thoughts on “Horticultural Distance Learning From Mt. Cuba!

  1. Just had to make you jealous. Mt. Cuba is right down the road from my parents, and yes, we went plenty of times for various things throughout the years as I was growing up. Of course, I didn’t appreciate any of it as much as you would! When you go take Charlie…the old Wilmington Western Railroad is at the bottom of hill. You can take him on a train ride and picnic at Mt. Cuba!!

    • Oh my goodness, right down the road? Yes, I am jealous! That area, Delaware and the adjacent parts of Pennsylvania, seems to be a total mecca for gardeners, what with Mt. Cuba, Longwood, Chanticleer, Winterthur, and then the Brandywine Valley….and then there’s the Philadelphia flower show every March — have you ever been to that? Thanks for the tip on the railroad, too….sounds like a great outing!

  2. I interned at Longwood Gardens and had the chance to go on field trips to Mt. Cuba (and Winterthur and Chanticleer and about a million other local gardens) several times. It’s AMAZING! Their Kalmia collection is completely mindblowing (especially for someone who lives in an area where Kalmia are but a dream). They’re usually only open for tours a few weekends in the spring because most of their gardens are very spring oriented (not to say it wasn’t beautiful when I was there in the fall too). The Brandywine Valley should be on every plant geek’s bucket list!

    • Okay, Tom, now I’m really excited to visit Mt. Cuba. Mind-blowing Kalmia? I am there!! How cool that you interned at Longwood Gardens! I just visited Longwood for the first time last October. Pretty amazing place. Would love to work there!

      • It was a fantastic place to work. The best part was that the interns lived on the grounds meaning we had free access 24/7. It was so great being able to picnic in the garden after hours! But yes, Mt. Cuba is wonderful and should be on everyone’s to-do list.

  3. Mar- We would go to Longwood several times a year and my parents still do. It takes them about 20 minutes to get there. As for the Philly Flower Show, I have only been twice but my parents go every year. What I remember most is the smell. Truly unforgettable. If you are serious about going, maybe we could make it a weekend and stay at my parents house. They are about 45 min. to an hour from Philly.

  4. Out here on the other side of the country, I have never heard of this place…thanks for the heads-up about the new Moss class! My moss garden is coming together nicely (read:Slowly), but more education is always useful, especially on a topic on which there is relatively little information. Fantastic!

    • Calvin, I want to take the moss class next! I want to look into the possibility of converting at least some of my front yard to moss. It is growing there naturally among the sparse grass and weeds, and I feel like it WANTS to be there. From what I hear, this is the ideal circumstance for creating a moss garden.

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