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.


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


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


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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Old brick walls surround the house.



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. This looks like a really interesting garden…. And I would just love a look around the Main House… all this is adding to our travel bucket list..

  2. Thanks for this amazing stroll through the MT Cuba garden, Jason. I love the view of Main House and the formal garden, nice colors and flowers. The paths and mosaic is wonderful.

  3. The swamp pink is something I have never seen. It is beautiful! Love those old brick walls. You rarely see anything like them being built any more.

  4. The formal garden is a bit startling after all the native woodland ephemerals. But I love the twirling maple seed sculpture.

  5. 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.

  6. What a wonderful place! I doubt I will ever visit—although you never know—but so interesting to go around with your and Judy via the lovely photographs.

  7. Great post, Jason – I depend on the Mt. Cuba plant trials when purchasing heucheras, coreopsis, and many other native plants. It’s still on my “have to visit” list, so thanks for the preview 🙂

    • You’re welcome. They seem to do excellent work with the native plants of the Mid-Atlatic – which have a fair amount of overlap with the Midwest.

  8. Thank you for the tour Mount Cuba Center. Beautiful photos, Jason.

    I’ve been to Longwood Gardens many years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

  9. This would definitely go on my to see list! A haven to be sure. Long may it continue. I did like Samara!xxx

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