Farewell to the Mt. Cuba Center

There’s lots going on in Chicago right now that I’m impatient to share, but I have to do one more post on the Mt. Cuba Center.

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The walking paths lead down to three linked ponds, two of which are connected by the stream above.

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Here’s a view of the two upper ponds. What a perfectly placed bench for contemplating water and trees.

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And a perfectly placed log for basking in the sun. One of the volunteers stirred up the bottom of the pond a bit so we could also see the plentiful tadpoles therein.

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Some Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) on the pond’s edge.

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And that’s Swamp Pink (Hellonia bullata) to the left of the unfurling ferns. Swamp Pink is another rare and endangered plant species, native to wetlands from Georgia to New York State, being grown at the Mt. Cuba Center.

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After leaving the ponds we climbed  back up a hill towards the Main House. On the way we passed the Trial Garden. Mt. Cuba Center has conducted research on the ecological benefits of native plants and has tested natives and their cultivars for use in home gardens. At least a dozen plants have been introduced by the Mt. Cuba Center for horticultural use.

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Beyond the Trial Garden is the formal garden that adjoins the Main House.

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We thought the most striking element of the formal garden was this sculpture, entitled Samara and modeled after a Maple seed. Like the real thing, the sculpture twirls in the wind.

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Here’s a view of the Main House from the formal garden. The house is actually much grander than this picture implies. It belonged to Pamela Copeland, who started the gardens of the Mt. Cuba Center and then left the house and land to a public foundation.

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Old brick walls surround the house.

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A view from the house towards the main entrance.

There are many grand gardens in the greater Philadelphia area – Longwood and Chanticleer, to name just two. All of them are certainly worth visiting, but the Mt. Cuba Center is really unique. If you have an interest in North American native plants and naturalistic gardens, you should absolutely put it on your must-see list.

26 Comments on “Farewell to the Mt. Cuba Center”

  1. Your title scared me. I thought you were going to write that the funding for Mt. Cuba was axed or some such and that it was closing (since this kind of thing is going on so much these days). It’s a beautiful place. I don’t have a problem with the formal area. It provides contrast.

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