Musings on the meadow at Mt. Cuba

Guess I was tired when I pulled in to Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, Del., this morning. Been a rough couple of weeks for us folks in old media. New media, too, come to think of it. So when Dave Korbonits walked me around the meadow there, pointing out the beautiful ornamental grasses that just happened to be swooshing in the breeze... it was all I could do to refrain from lying down and dozing off in the middle of it all.

Actually, Dave says the deer do that. Instead of eating the grasses, they plop down on top of them, making a comfy little nest. Sounded awfully good to me.

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What is it about a meadow that hypnotizes people? It's like watching waves on a beach. The repetition is so relaxing. It never gets old, this natural de-stressor that doesn't involve doing something stupid or spending a ton of money.

The grasses at Mt. Cuba are interspersed with native wildflowers, a variety of asters, including Georgia aster, which is brilliant purple, and a lovely narrow-leaved sunflower alled 'Mellow Yellow.' But this is the kind of place that you must walk through slowly, observing carefully. The grasses are subtle. A single stem can be gold, red and green. The seedheads are symmetrical and brilliant, if you think about it. So much food is packed in there for birds and other creatures. And as you walk along, startled birds fly out of the grasses. You know they'll be back.

But what about a home garden? Dave had lots of ideas, all of them involving native grasses. (But of course; this is Mt. Cuba's mission.) You can plant grasses dotted with coneflowers along the driveway, around a patio or pond, in a border. You don't have to convert your entire yard or property to a meadow.

Whatever you do, beware of grasses described as "vigorous growers."

Story coming soon. 

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