Monday, April 26, 2010

Wildflower Celebration (part 1)

Yesterday I went to the Mt. Cuba Center's 6th Annual Wildflower Celebration. It's a day when they open the gates for everyone to come and see the gardens. Normally one has to pay and schedule for a guided tour in advance. Their collections of flowers are that fragile that free roaming isn't allowed. The property is 600 acres of managed land which is how a place like this should be.

By far this was way better than the Philadelphia Flower Show! First off it's completely free. Secondly you're seeing all the plants blooming along side one another and growing in their own little ecosystems. Because they're on a mountain/steep incline separate micro-climates allow for a better perspective of the plants. Plants flowering at the top of the hill might not be blooming yet at the bottom, for example, so walking though the gardens you'll see plants in all stages. And best of all the first 500 families got a free plant to take home, a Coreopsis. 

The gardens are not handicap accessible but that's not to say they aren't allowed. (I believe classes in the main house wont be a problem.) Because this is open to the public, parking had to be on a neighboring field. Their normal parking lot only holds about 40 cars and that won't do for an event like this. The options to get to the house are either walk the trail, or take a bus which is provided by them. There was also bottled water and plenty of bathrooms I'm happy to say. We chose to walk the trail, despite being a rainy day.

Even before we arrived we started seeing brilliant views and some great native plants. The uncut grasses to this prairie were filled with milkweed. I can only imagen what this pasture looks like in June and July. Milkweed flowers are a spectacular nectar source and pollinated by just about any flying insect.

August must be equally as exciting. It's the host plant to the Monarch butterfly and there is plenty to go around in this field.

Bird houses were posted every few hundred feet. When this prairie becomes active with insects I'm sure they'll have plenty of food.

They'll have quite a view if nothing else. Delaware is filled with beautiful cottage homes, old stone walls, and it's as thought the whole state were professionally landscaped. Just down the hill was a beautiful house and pond. I believe that's actually a well they let flood over into a pond.

Just off the trail I saw a young Eastern Redbud, Cercis canadensis, in bloom. We're a bit past the peak of this tree's bloom but this young sapling was still in decent condition. Redbuds flowers oddly, along the trunk and main branches instead of only new growth, but I love them for that fact.

Farther in we walked past a White Flowering Redbud. I don't know the story with this tree, weather it was a random mutation or someone decided we need a white flowering REDbud. It's pretty all the same. There were a few of these growing along the forest and I know you can buy them here and there.

You can see everything is still wet from the light rain that happened all day. It's a shame this was a one day event.

Tomorrow we enter the gardens.

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