New design brings blooms and foliage in a high heat, bright sun garden

Gardens at Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DelawareMt. Cuba Center’s formal garden is in full bloom for the first time since its redesign. Golden yellow and vibrant purple flowers attract the eye while a palette of purple, emerald, silver and chartreuse foliage line the brick paths. The new planting design retains the foundations of the original Marian Coffin design while using only native perennials in order to demonstrate the beauty and utility of native plants in a formal setting.

The South Garden, originally designed by Coffin in 1949, displays a native plant color palette that progresses throughout the seasons and reflects the warm tones of the bricks in the walls and paths of the garden area.

Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport“We redesigned the South Garden as a mixed border inspired by English gardens in order to fit the character of the house and show how you can use native plants in a more traditional garden setting,” said Travis Beck, Director of Horticulture. “Mt. Cuba Center is renowned for its woodland and naturalistic gardens; this was an opportunity to show something different.”

The redesigned garden beds display the effect that native plants can achieve in a hot, sunny formal garden area. Mt. Cuba Center’s horticulturists carefully selected plants that would tolerate the bright conditions and provide excellent floral and foliage display throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Gardens at Mt. Cuba Center, Hockessin, DelawareMost plants in the garden are widely available in the nursery trade, and include species that have performed well in Mt. Cuba Center’s trials, as well as three Mt. Cuba Center introductions: Golden Fleece autumn goldenrod (Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’), Pink Profusion bowman’s root (Gillenia trifolata ‘Pink Profusion’), and Raydon’s favorite aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’).

The garden demonstrates that a formal garden can be a hub of pollinator and butterfly activity when native plants are used. Visitors to Mt. Cuba Center may find inspiration to incorporate native plants into their own gardens and landscapes.

Mt. Cuba Center is a botanical garden that inspires an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants and a commitment to protect the environments that sustain them. Mt. Cuba Center’s gardens are open to visitors Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April through October and are part of the 11 cultural attractions found on the Brandywine Treasure Trail Passport

For more information, call 302.239.8883 or visit