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New Research on Native Plants from the Mount Cuba Center

If you haven’t been to the Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware, make every effort to visit.   Once the private estate of Mr. and Mrs. Lammot du Pont Copeland, Mt. Cuba Center is now a spectacular botanical garden dedicated to native plants and native habitats.  The Center is also a regional leader in offering educational programs on ecological gardening and native plants.

In addition to promoting environmentally beneficial gardening, Mt. Cuba Center also conducts original research on native plants, cultivars and hybrids.  Since 2002, their Trial Garden, managed by George Coombs, is where this research takes place, evaluating plants for their horticultural and ecological value.

Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Bee Balm (Monarda spp.), False Indigo (Baptisia spp), Phlox (Phlox spp.) and Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) and Asters have all been evaluated at Mt. Cuba Center’s Trial Garden.  These evaluations have been compiled into reports many of which Mt. Cuba Center has made available online.

The latest research report from Mt. Cuba Center is on Coral Bells (Heuchera spp).  Although their research covers plants suitable for the Mid-Atlantic region, many of the plants evaluated can be found for sale in many parts of the U.S.  This particular report focuses on Heuchera hybrids, but includes some cultivars and two straight species natives, Heuchera americana and Heuchera longiflora.

I am particularly excited about the new research partnership underway between Mt. Cuba Center and the University of Delaware on native woody plants (trees and shrubs) and their relative attractiveness to pollinators.  Two professors from the University of Delaware, Dr. Deborah Delaney and Dr. Douglas Tallamy (author of Bringing Nature Home), will be leading the project.

According to the press release, the goal of the research is to “provide homeowners and the nursery and landscape industry with recommendations on commercially available plants that will offer the greatest nutritional benefit to pollinators.”  Now that is some exciting research!

If you happen to be in the area, on Friday, August 21, 2015, I will be teaching a class at Mt. Cuba Center, “Gardening for Beneficial Insects.”  I’ll be checking out the Trial Garden while I am there!

From Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!

Photo: The main building at the beautiful Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Delaware.