Mt. Cuba Center shows off sunny native plants

The formal garden at the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin is in full bloom for the first time since its redesign, reflecting a bright and sunny disposition.

A pathway at Mt. Cuba Center beckons visitors to enjoy its newly redesigned formal garden.

A pathway at Mt. Cuba Center beckons visitors to enjoy its newly redesigned formal garden.

Golden yellow and vibrant purple flowers attract the eye while a palette of purple, emerald, silver and chartreuse foliage line the brick paths. The new planting design retains the foundations of the original Marian Coffin design while using only native perennials in order to demonstrate the beauty and utility of native plants in a formal setting, according to a Mt. Cuba press release.

The South Garden, originally designed by Coffin in 1949, displays a native plant color palette that progresses throughout the seasons and reflects the warm tones of the bricks in the walls and paths of the garden area.

“We redesigned the South Garden as a mixed border inspired by English gardens in order to fit the character of the house and show how you can use native plants in a more traditional garden setting,” Travis Beck, director of horticulture, said in the release. “Mt. Cuba Center is renowned for its woodland and naturalistic gardens; this was an opportunity to show something different.”

The redesigned garden beds display the effect that native plants can achieve in a hot, sunny formal garden area. Mt. Cuba Center’s horticulturists carefully selected plants that would tolerate the bright conditions and provide excellent floral and foliage display throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Most plants in the garden are widely available in the nursery trade, and include species that have performed well in Mt. Cuba Center’s trials, as well as three Mt. Cuba Center introductions: “Golden Fleece” autumn goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata), “Pink Profusion” bowman’s root (Gillenia trifolata), and “Bluebird “smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve).

A profusion of color dominates the formal garden at Mt. Cuba Center.

A profusion of color dominates the formal garden at Mt. Cuba Center.

The garden demonstrates that a formal garden can be a hub of pollinator and butterfly activity when native plants are used. Visitors to Mt. Cuba Center may find inspiration to incorporate native plants into their own gardens and landscapes.

Mt. Cuba Center is a nearly 600-acre botanical garden that inspires an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and a commitment to protect the environments that sustain them.

The former home of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland,  its gardens are  open to visitors Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April through October. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children aged 6 to 17, and free for children under 5.

 

Classes are offered year-round. For more information, contact Sara Levin Stevenson, manager of public engagement, at sstevenson@mtcubacenter.org or 302.239.8883 or visit www.mtcubacenter.org.

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