New pathways, amenities, gateway, and welcome center part of changes that could take decades to complete

Hockessin’s horticultural jewel, Mt. Cuba Center, is ready for summer 2018 with a completed master plan and some updated amenities.

According to a press release, the plan is the culmination of an 18-month design process involving Mt. Cuba Center’s board and staff, landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz, and Beyer Blinder Belle architects.

The plan was created with the goal in mind to create a guest experience that connects people with nature and facilitates the garden’s mission to inspire an appreciation for the beauty and value of native plants, and a commitment to protect the habitats that sustain them, the release states.

Mt. Cuba Center President Ann Copeland Rose said Lammot and Pamela Copeland vision for transforming their estate into a public garden dates back to the early 1960’s.

“This master plan provides a roadmap to fully-realize our founders’ intention in a way that is respectful of the scenic, historic character of the local landscape,” she said.

Among the goals outlined in the master plan are: an enhanced guest experience; enhanced organizational sustainability and the ecological value of the landscape; fostering a connection between guests and the natural world; and conveying the benefits of ecological gardening.

It also calls for expanding its capacity to accommodate increasing attendance with added parking, a new entrance and welcome center, additional paths, and other features.

The master plan also seeks to remain grounded in the historical context of Mt. Cuba Center by adapting and reusing original 1930s estate courtyards and buildings, preserving iconic viewsheds, and maintaining the intimate character of the naturalistic gardens, according to the release.

Executive director Jeff Downing said the center’s audience has been growing steadily since it opened for general admission in 2013.

“We’re looking to continue that growth in an organized, integrated way that allows us to realize the Copelands’ ambition to inspire a community of conservation,” Downing said.

He added that when developing the plan, they intentionally avoided specifying a time frame.

“It might take 20 years to grow into all that the master plan envisions, it might take longer,” he said. “We intend to be responsive to our organizational needs and mindful of our resources.”

Mt. Cuba is located at 3120 Barley Mill Rd, Hockessin. For more information, visit mtcubacenter.org.