Corona Garden Diary 3/20/20: Grateful for the Outdoor Spaces

I am guessing that a lot of suburban folks who took their yards for granted — or maybe even saw them as more trouble than they were worth at times — are appreciating them right now.  The family next door has 5 kids under the age of 11, and I hear shouting and laughing and games from that direction at least half the day.  My county keeps saying they plan to start distance learning, but so far they seem unable to initiate it, so for now all the young ones have an awful lot of time on their hands.  Lucky are the parents who have an outdoor area where they can shoo the little ‘uns when the togetherness gets to be too much.


Frogs plopping around in the drainage ditches near my house.

On my recent walks, I have noticed far more people than usual out doing yard work or even just sitting out on their porches.  I love it.

A small yard or balcony might not offer the same options for restless kids, but can still uplift your spirits.  A breath of fresh air, a potted plant, a view of the wider world: again, things we all took for granted now seem like gifts.

I hope that apartment dwellers with no outdoor space at all at least have access to a park or garden.  (Public parks and gardens are on a long list of many things that I will value all the more post-Corona).


Marsh marigolds lighten the gloom at one of my local parks.

For those with limited access to the outdoors, or for outdoor lovers in general, here is an excellent virtual tour of the grounds of Mt. Cuba. Sadly, Mt. Cuba is not open to visitors at the moment, but their virtual tour will give a taste of what is out there waiting for you.



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!


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



Redbud, Fothergilla, Tulip Tree



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



a native herbaceous clematis with adorable little nodding white flowers



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



Allegheny Pachysandra (Pachysandra procumbens)



Dwarf Iris



A patch of dwarf Iris in blue — so cute



Flame Azalea bloom about to open.


Unfurling fern


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


They also had fauna.



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


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



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



I love these raspberry colored primroses by the stream.



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.



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



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



Trillium grandiflorum Double Loop form



Trillium grandiflorum



Underwood’s Trillium (Trillium underwoodii)



Twisted Trillium (Trillium stamineum)



Trillium grandiflorum – pink form



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


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


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


Phlox stolonifera with Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids



Woodland path with Purple Pharecia



Ferns, woodland phlox, trillium



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



Virginia Bluebells, Wood Poppies, unfurling ferns



Dogwood path

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.”

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