One day, three destinations: Mt. Cuba, Gateway Garden Center and Redbud Native Nursery
We benefit from somewhat of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to native plant gardens in the Mid-Atlantic. In Washington D.C., the U.S. Botanic Garden shifted its focus and large parts of its grounds to native plants from the Mid-Atlantic and across the United States several years back. The Adkins Arboretum on Maryland's Eastern Shore features indigenous plants of the Chesapeake in wetlands, meadows and woodland trails. A bit farther north, Mt. Cuba Center is truly the epicenter of all things native plants in the Mid-Atlantic, just to name a few.
One fun itinerary to indulge your curiosity about native plants is to head to the Mt. Cuba Center early in the day. A two hour drive from Washington, an hour and a half from Baltimore and an hour from Philadelphia, Mt. Cuba has something for everyone: formal gardens, woodland trails, a sylvan setting around a pond, and a meadow trail. You might purchase a snack there or take your lunch and eat on the formal patio or a bench near the pond. If you want to see a particular Chesapeake native plant growing, this is the place. They seem to have them all. Open Wednesday through Sunday, you can also check out their programming to time your visit with any number of classes and activities for adults and kids alike.
Next, check out Gateway Garden Center, a 1o minute drive from Mt. Cuba. Open daily, Gateway Garden Center, a family owned nursery, carries numerous native plants. Gateway organizes their native plants in a way that makes total sense for the gardener, by moisture and sun requirements. They have a good selection of water loving natives too. Mt. Cuba Center members get a 10% discount on purchases.
Last, but certainly not least, drive 25 minutes to Media, PA to visit Redbud Nursery, one of the oldest native plant retail nurseries in Pennsylvania. Julie Snell and Lisa Hanes, two landscape architects steeped in public garden work, recently took over from founder and longtime owner Catherine Smith. What a selection of plants and these two are extremely knowledgeable and friendly! Open Tuesday through Saturday, they sell everything from plugs to more mature unusual trees, take special orders, and design, advise and consult. It's really a special place.
To catch all three open, plan to visit Wednesday through Saturday. While I am not certain of much, I am certain you will be inspired by loads of ideas from these three native plant treasures!