Mount Cuba Center (Hockessin, Delaware)

To end Summer on a high note, we joined a field trip to the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware. It’s a garden dedicated to native plants, and a place of astonishing beauty! Their slogan is “gardening on a higher level”. Certainly it’s a garden on a higher level than I can aspire to.

“Native plants” require some definition. The garden goes a little beyond what is truly native to northern Delaware, including some specimens from other parts of the eastern United States. There are no “exotics”. Everything I saw could be maintained by an average gardener, except perhaps pitcher plants and lady slipper. I was happy to see that a few things I consider “delicate” were spreading abundantly there, like Pine Barrens lobelia and cardinal flower. (Forgive my use of common names, I know you can puzzle out the correct nomenclature if you need it.)

Mt. Cuba was wonderfully free of the invasive species, like autumn olive. They have a large staff of volunteers to care for the plants.

The day was hot and sunny, so butterflies were out, especially on the thistle flowers. Some of my favorite fall flowers were getting started, like Joe Pye weed.

A first for me was a look at Monks’ Hood in the wild, a plant so toxic we were advised not to touch any part of it, though its danger is greatest if you eat it.

Perhaps my favorite flower was the bottle gentian, which I never saw in the wild before except in Vermont.

I was simply dazzled by Mt. Cuba. When I figure out how to download pictures from my phone, I’ll post some. Meanwhile, you can gaze at the web site and dream. http://www.mtcubacenter.org

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