Blogger’s Note: I have back-dated my first two entries to when they were originally supposed to be recorded, instead of them being posted today (7-13-2011). My first two days at Mount Cuba were a whirlwind; the first thing I wanted to do when I got home was: Take the world’s coldest shower. The second? Eat a bunch of water ice and call it “dinner.” And the third? GO TO BED! The last thing I wanted to do when I got home was getting on my computer… Another thing to mention: I will be making separate posts for pictures that I have taken for my first 3 days at Mount Cuba. Sorry for the inconvenience, but these entries will be long enough without them!
I arrived at Mount Cuba at 9:00AM and I was greeted by Eileen Boyle. She gave me a brief tour and showed me a short video about the history of the Mount Cuba Center. Mrs. Copeland was the one who pushed for more native plants within the landscape at Mount Cuba. She passed away in 2001–and in 2001, Mount Cuba officially became a non-profit organization which focuses on the use of Appalachian Piedmont plants and their conservation.
When setting up my rotation a few months back with Julia Lo Ehrhardt (who is the Education Coordinator at Mt. Cuba), I had expressed an interest in plant education as well as maintaining and preserving historical landscapes. As a result, after the video I was handed over to Donna Wiley, who will be my mentor for the next two weeks. She is in charge of taming the terraces around the house, the forecourt, the Round Garden (which was designed by Marian Coffin* in 1949), and the Lilac Allée. Donna is very personable; I know I am going to enjoy working with her!
Donna and I began our work by staking some Delphinium that had been grown in a container, so that we could take it up to the East Terrace. We also moved some potted Agapanthus africanus, or Nile Lily, from the East Terrace down to the greenhouse area because they were nearing the end of their flowering stage. To replace them, we brought up Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Luna White’ (common swamp mallow) and Eupatorium purpureum ‘Little Joe’ ( dwarf Joe-Pye weed). Donna refers to ‘Luna White’ as the “party dress” plant; its flowers are showy and beautiful, one can’t possibly miss it! I think it looks like a bigger version of Catharanthus roseus!
During break, I met some of the other Mount Cuba staff and some of the interns. It’s going to take me a few days to learn names and faces!
After break, Donna and I headed back to the East Terrace. While Donna rearranged the planted containers to her liking, she had me water the South Terrace which is home to some Impatiens, bog containers full of native pitcher plants (Sarracenia species), and other plants. We had to attach a water meter to the hose, which was quite cumbersome to attach, let alone lugging it around all over the terraces. I have a feeling that the meter and I will be sworn enemies by the end of this rotation…
It was very hot today, and both Donna and I were relieved when 4:30pm finally rolled around so we could retreat home and cool off in the air conditioning. 🙂
*Marian Coffin was a landscape architect; one of the very first women to enter into the field. She became a landscape architect out of necessity, and graduated from MIT. She had a long career that spanned 53 years! Her work can be seen not only at Mt. Cuba, but in other areas of the First State as well: the University of Delaware, Gibraltar, Winterthur. She has also done work in various areas of New York. For more information about Marian Coffin, I suggest reading Money, Manure & Maintenance: Ingredients for Successful Gardens of Marian Coffin (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Money-Manure-Maintenance-Ingredients-Successful/dp/0964300303).