The Meadow Garden, Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, Delaware. A legacy of the Lammot du Pont Copelands.
Mt. Cuba Center is a reserve of plants native to the Piedmont of the eastern US. The Piedmont stretches from Maine to Kentucky.
Farmland on one side of Mt. Cuba; large suburban houses on the other
The family home, now converted into offices
A view of the Piedmont in early November 2018 beyond an honour guard of Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica)
About 40 miles from Philadelphia, Mt. Cuba is very close to the center of downtown Wilmington, Delaware. 500 acres recently doubled by an agreement to join it with neighbouring land.
Between the house and the meadow, a statue surrounded by hair-awn muhly, one of the meadow grasses
A little stream runs away from two ponds which were created on the grounds.
the meadow garden on the right above the larger pond, in Autumn
A garden has been set aside for experimental research in native plants. Along its side runs a lilac allee. On its wire mesh wall, native clematis climb and also the native wisteria developed by Longwood Gardens.
the seed distribution mechanism of native clematis
A variety of native wisteria developed by Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, with Mt. Cuba, one of six legacy estates of the du Pont family
Two plants are not native: one forms an allee of non-native lilacs running alongside the experimental garden.
The second is the Japanese primula of which the owner, having seen them in the Quarry Garden at Winterthur, was particularly fond.
Japanese primula in high Summer
Among the singularities of these grounds is a meadow garden, sloping down towards the bigger pond.
It was planted by the proprietor of Mt. Cuba, Pamela Lammot du Pont Copeland (1906-2001, American) in the late 1970s.
The garden meadow in October, the oak to the left still green; and the dogwood on the right.
The meadow garden is a rectangular field of about two acres.
The meadow garden in mid-October
100,000 follicles of eight kinds of grass were sown.
The grasses are broom sedge,big and little blue stem, tufted hair grass, the pale pink hair-awn muhly, Indian and love grass, and dropseed.
Hair-awn muhly, thought to have died out in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and now in the process of restoration
30 varieties of wildflowers were also planted.
Asters (Symphiotrichium) make up one category: they bloom late and provide cololur through the end of October.
Variety of asters in the meadow and bordering it
The grasses predominate.
A path edges the meadow garden on three sides and the meadow overlaps the path along one edge.
A path into the meadow garden in early October
The fourth side is guarded by a stand of witch’s brooms of white pine. Their irregular boughs and dark, barren understory are a contrast to the light and fecundity of the garden meadow.
A colony of witch’s brooms of white pine front one side of the meadow garden
The witch’s brooms provide a dark backdrop to the seasonal colours of the garden meadow
The meadow garden is maintained as is any other garden. It is weeded. Invasives and aggressives are removed and thinned. It does not become an unsurpassable thicket.
Meadow gardeners working in October 2020
Hawks wheel and float overhead looking for small mammals living in the meadow garden; of whom the vole is said to be the most heavily predated on the continent.
Below the meadow garden, the bigger of the two ponds can be seen except when the grasses are at their tallest.
the larger pond in Autumn
The changes of colour and appearance in the meadow garden and its immediate surroundings throughout the year are astounding.
Starting with the unremarkable pale yellow cream of winter/spring stubble
the large lake from the meadow garden in April
through the variegated greens of grass and leaf in summer; and the colours of flowers
The garden meadow with its dogwood tree in May
Whorled tickseed growing with hair-awn muhly in August
to the flux and haze of autumnal hues
the garden meadow above and to the right of the lake in late Autumn
In autumn, many grasses stand taller than humans.
These photos were taken between 2014-2020, between Mt. Cuba’s annual opening to general public access in April and closing in late November.
They reflect seasonal changes whose beginning, end and duration vary from one year to the next.
A place of supernal beauty.
Two trees were left in the meadow garden: an oak tree and a dogwood (Cornus florida).
The dogwood in the meadow garden in April
The oak tree in April
The meadow garden horticulturalists in April 2016
The dogwood in May
The oak tree in May
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
The dogwood in July
The oak tree in July
A variety of goldenrod in July
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Spike Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
Bee Balm (Monarda)
A form of Monarda with a triple crown
The dogwood in flower in August
The oak tree in August
Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum Virginicum)
Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea)
Cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis)
Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
Blue dogbane (Amsonia tabarnaemontana) setting off black-eyed susans
Mohr’s Rosinweed (Silphium mohrii)
Staff and volunteers there to weed the meadow garden
The dogwood tree, its feet in black-eyed susans among other plants, in September
The oak tree in September
A variety of goldenrod
Hyssop leaf thoroughwart (Eupatorium hyssopifolium)
White false indigo (Baptisia alba) in seed
Showy goldenrod facing the dogwood tree
Clustered mountain mint (Pycanthemum muticum)
Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)
A monarch feeding on hollow-stem Joe Pyeweed (Eutrochium fistulosum)
Hollow-stem Joe Pyeweed bowing to the grasses of the meadow garden
Visitors filing along one side of the meadow garden
Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) (pink for pinking shears)
The dogwood in October
The dogwood in mid-October
The oak tree in October
White aster in the meadow
Hyssop Leaf Thoroughwort (Eupatorium hyssopifolium)
Slender goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana)
Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius)
Hair-awn muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris), one of the meadow garden grasses
The fruit of the buttonbush shrub (Cephalanthus occidentalis) facing the meadow garden
A variety of goldenrod facing the meadow garden
Hair-awn muhly with a variety of goldenrod
Tall Ironweed (Vernonia angustifolia) in mid-October
The path along one side of the meadow garden
The path after the first snow in mid-November
The dogwood, denuded and barely visible, in November
The oak tree in November
The oak tree visible behind the dogwood in early November
The oak tree and the dogwood on a mid-November day after the first snow
The last hurrahs of the black-eyed susans
One of the goldenrods in late November, 2019
Yellow Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutrans), one of the meadow garden grasses
Blue stem and broom sedge in late November 2019
Love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis), one of the meadow garden grasses
Native milkweed which had still not released all its seeds in late November 2019 after an erratic Autumn
Prarie dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepis),in mid November, 2018 after the first snow
After the first snow, 2019