Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wildflowers at Mt. Cuba

I visited the Mt. Cuba Center near Wilmington, Delaware, to attend one of their fascinating winter lectures, my first botanical garden event this year. Upon arrival, I fell in love with the location, the verdant acreage and the magnificent Colonial Revival style house.  Here, horticulturists conduct research in trial gardens, home to more than 1,000 species of native plants, many threatened by extinction. No blooms today, but a compelling lecture titled "Wildflower Ecology: A Naturalist's Perspective." Carol Gracie, the speaker, worked for the Nature Conservancy and the New York Botanical Gardens before retiring. With her husband she spent many years studying plants in the South American rain forests. Today, Carol talked about spring ephemerals, our native woodland wildflowers, a perfect topic for this gardener on a cold winter's day.  She illustrated her talk with photographs from her latest book, Spring Wildflowers of the Northeast.

Carol started the presentation with a photograph of herpatica Anemone americana
Carol Gracie, acclaimed naturalist, photographer and writer.

Of course, I bought the book and now treasure my signed copy.

Carol exquisitely illustrated this unique book with more than 500 beautiful colored photos. Going far beyond a field guide, Carol provides insights into the plant world, discussing the latest science, the cultural uses of plants and personal observations. She highlighted some ephemerals from her book in her lecture. I was fascinated to learn that skunk cabbage Symplocarpus foetidus is the first wildflower to bloom in the Northeast. It grows in abundance in a swampy area near my house but, aware only of its unpleasant smell, I never really looked at it. Now I'm anxious to visit the location and see if it really is a harbinger of spring; to see if it has flowers already.

-- beautiful photographs and easy-to-read information --

The book signing took place in the conservatory of the main house. What a beautiful room with large windows giving views of the terrace.

Mt. Cuba main house conservatory
Hallway with lovely Chinese prints on the walls
View from the house of Mt. Cuba's formal garden.

I encourage you to take a virtual tour of the botanical garden by clicking here. I look forward to returning at the end of April to see the wildflowers in bloom. 

Mt. Cuba is one of many public gardens within 100 miles of my home. We are fortunate to have so many, such as those in and around Philadelphia, just a few hours away. I visited a handful of them over the years, but my goal is to tour several new ones in 2017, as well as revisit old favorites -- especially  Longwood and Chanticleer.

My own garden was hit by an ice storm. I wish I could capture the bright sparkle of the shrubs behind the 'naked lady', as my grandchildren call her.

The ice and wind bowed my beloved white pine into the paddock. Upon closer inspection, we see the trunk is split. I think it is lost.

The snow and wind continue, but I'm content to relax by the fire with a cup of coffee and a wonderful new book.

Dreaming of springtime and wildflowers.
Pamela x

Don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count

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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. It sounds like an interesting lecture and it was held in such a beautiful setting, certainly worth travelling for. Such a shame to lose your white pine in this way, it looks so cold there so I think you're doing the right thing relaxing by the fire with a coffee and your new book.

  2. The loss of your tree is so unfortunate. Nature isn't always kind to us. Relaxing by the fire sounds like a good plan for the weekend, but I know you will find a way to count those birds!

  3. Sorry to hear about the snow taking down a tree. We've had so little snow here this winter, which seems like a good thing, but that means less moisture for the plants. Still, this warm spell is pretty darned nice!

  4. It looks like you had a wonderful day at the gardens and lecture and it's nice to see that you are enjoying your new book! The gardens look like a wonderful place to visit. Sorry to hear about your tree. It's sad that sometimes winter gets the best of our beloved plants. Stay warm and keep dreaming of spring!