Mt Cuba Center
Morning sunrise illuminates the round garden at Mt. Cuba Center.
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Program Guide

Classes offered year-round. Learn to garden in harmony with nature, take an art or wellness class, and more!

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Trial Garden

Mt. Cuba Center evaluates native plants and related cultivars for horticultural and ecological value.

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Ecological Land Management

Mt. Cuba conserves and stewards more than 1,000 acres including meadows, forests, streams and riparian corridors.

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Mt Cuba Center

Meet the instructors who make Mt. Cuba Center a great place to learn.

Class Acts

Élan Alford, PhD

Élan Alford, Ph.D, is the plant conservation scientist at Mt. Cuba Center. She coordinates volunteer research, including rare plant monitoring. Prior to joining Mt. Cuba, Élan worked in environmental consulting and has volunteered as Rare Plant Chair for the California Native Plant Society Santa Clara Valley Chapter.

Kevin Allen

Kevin Allen, MEd, has more than a decade of experience in science education and currently serves as an educator at Mt. Cuba Center. He earned a certificate in horticulture from Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring, NY, and is also pursuing a graduate degree in plant science with a focus on orchid ecology.

Liz Allen

Liz Allen is an Educator at Mt. Cuba Center and a Delaware Master Naturalist with the University of Delaware. She provides gardening consultations to local homeowners and schools who are looking to diversify and improve their landscape value with native plants. Liz is also the grounds manager for a school, and has converted the entire property to native plants for children to study and enjoy. She also leads groups in invasive removal efforts, as well as creating public plantings. Liz is passionate about restoring nature's balance by actively influencing plant communities.

Kathy Andrzejewski

Kathy Andrzejewski (MEd, HT) is a certified Horticulture Therapist. She earned her certification through the Chicago Botanic Garden and is also a Delaware Master Naturalist. She enjoys using her knowledge to have people of all ages experience the health and wellness benefits that result from engaging with nature.

Nancy Bell

Nancy Bell is the Education and Garden Coach Coordinator at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin. She has Certificates of Merit in Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens.

Kelly Billing

Kelly Billing is a Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist with more than 32 years of experience in the water gardening industry. She compiled and maintains the Aquatic Plant Invasive Species List for the nursery trade and is coauthor of The Water Gardener’s Bible and The Lotus: Know It and Grow It.

Sue Boss

Sue is the Mt. Cuba Center Horticulturist responsible for the gardens along the entrance drive. She formerly worked at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.

Sarah Bouboulis

Sarah Bouboulis is the Habitat Project Coordinator for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. She has her master's degree in biology from Bucknell University where she studied bats and disease ecology. She has worked for DNREC and USFWS on various endangered species projects including bats and reptiles. Her current focuses are on restoration of both coastal and upland habitats. She has a passion for native plants, especially in her own backyard and yours.

Leah Brooks

Leah Brooks is Mt. Cuba Center’s Public Programs Assistant. She is a University of Delaware graduate with dual bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Science and Wildlife Ecology. Her passion is sharing the joy of nature and native gardening with others.

Louise Clarke

Louise Clarke is co-principal of Verdant Earth Educators, a green industry consulting and education firm. She is an accredited Green Roof Professional and certified arborist, and currently serves as President of the Delaware Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society. Louise enjoys teaching Botany and Garden Appreciation at the Barnes Arboretum Horticulture Certificate Program of St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, and also leads workshops and continuing education classes at Longwood Gardens, Tyler Arboretum, Penn State Master Gardeners, Linvilla Orchards, and Mt. Cuba Center, among others.

George Coombs

George Coombs, Director of Horticulture at Mt. Cuba Center, leads a team of horticulturists, arborists, and grounds maintenance technicians who cultivate and improve formal and naturalistic gardens and play a pivotal role in the implementation of Mt. Cuba Center’s long-range master plan. George produced award-winning reports on native plant research as the former Manager of Horticultural Research at Mt Cuba Center and introduced four new Coreopsis cultivars. He holds a degree in Plant Science from the University of Delaware with a focus on landscape horticulture.

Nicole DeLizzio

Nicole DeLizzio is the Arborist Assistant at the Mt. Cuba Center. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources and a minor in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. With a combined passion for trees and art, she has deep dived into the art of pyrography and wood burns frequently.

Rodney Dever

Rodney completed his MS in evolutionary biology at West Virginia University researching wild onions (Allium). His focus is on that fine line between foraging wild edibles and incipient agriculture. These days Rodney works with Neal Peterson, creating new and improved varieties of pawpaws as well as other native plants. He regularly leads nature walks as president of the Eastern Panhandle Chapter of the West Virginia Native Plant Society.

Lucy Dinsmore

Lucy Dinsmore is a horticulturist and certified arborist who loves learning and teaching about all things growing. She worked in public gardens for ten years, at the Morris Arboretum and Chanticleer Gardens, and now runs Plant Lady Lucy, a garden design and consulting business in Kennett Square. Her first job as a young tween was at a garden center, and she later earned her master’s degree in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.

Susan Dixon

Susan Dixon is the perennial plant buyer and department manager at Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, DE. She has attended classes ornamental horticulture at New York Botanical Garden and is currently earning her certificate of merit at Longwood. She has a passion for wildlife and the native plants that support them.

Kathy Elliot

Kathy Elliot works as an Educator at Mt. Cuba Center. She has bachelor’s degrees in Plant Science and English from the University of Delaware and earned a Certificate of Merit in Landscape Design from Longwood Gardens. She worked for fifteen years at a family-owned, plant-focused garden center in south-central Pennsylvania, where she multi-tasked between landscape design and garden center management.

Anahí Espíndola, PhD

Dr. Anahí Espíndola is from Argentina, and is a first-generation Assistant Professor at the Department of Entomology of the University of Maryland, College Park. With her research group, she studies how the environment drives the ecology and evolution of plant-pollinator interactions, using genomic, ecological, and experimental approaches. Anahí is passionate about science communication, regularly contributes to the blog of the UMExtension Home and Gardening Information Center (Maryland Grows), and is a co-creator, contributor and manager of the popular outreach blog in Spanish "Extensión en Español". Anahí studied Biology at the National University of Córdoba (Argentina) and at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), where she also received her Master's and PhD. She did two post-docs at the University of Idaho, funded by the Swiss and US National Science Foundations.

Nancy Fisher Gregory

Nancy earned an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Penn State and spent several years at the Tropical Research and Education Center in Florida, followed by 26 years at University of Delaware. She was director of UD's Plant Diagnostic Clinic, and led pest detection efforts for Delaware. Nancy taught courses on plant diseases and mycology, Master Gardener training, seminars, and in retirement continues to teach.

Randall Graham

Randall Graham's passion for art has been apparent since childhood. His love of drawing and creating stories through works of art started at a very young age. He studied at The Carlin Academy of Fine Art. Helping others create is a truly gratifying experience. Randall teaches traditional painting fundamentals at Randall Graham Studio in Malvern, Wayne Art Center and Chester County Art Association.

David Greaves

David Greaves is a biologist at the EPA, wildlife photographer, and founder of Nature Under Your Nose (NUYN) brand. His love for nature and the outdoors was discovered while growing up in the Washington, D.C. area. He uses his photography and his NUYN brand to encourage people of all ages, colors, and backgrounds to explore and enjoy the nature they can find all around them.

Amy Highland

Amy Highland obtained her degree in Public Horticulture from Purdue University and is currently the Director of Collections and Conservation Lead at Mt. Cuba Center. She manages both living and non-living collections, focusing on expanding the genetic diversity of the gardens and coordinating the Center’s conservation efforts.

Duncan Himmelman, PhD

Duncan Himmelman, PhD, is the former Education Manager at Mt. Cuba Center. He earned his doctorate in Ornamental Horticulture at Cornell University, taught college for 24 years, and has contributed to a number of horticultural publications. Duncan managed a 20-acre estate in Greenwich, CT and has designed landscapes for both private and public clients in New York City, Toronto, and Chicago.

Sam Hoadley

Sam Hoadley is the Manager of Horticultural Research at Mt. Cuba Center where he evaluates native plant species, old and new cultivars, and hybrids in the Trial Garden. Prior to working at Mt. Cuba, he was the lead horticulturist for Longwood Gardens’ Hillside Garden. He earned his degree in Sustainable Landscape Horticulture from the University of Vermont.

Chris Hoess

Chris Hoess teaches biology and biochemistry at Delaware Technical Community College and is Chair of the Friends of the State Line Serpentine Barrens. His interests include ferns, trilliums, plant phylogenetics, and the management and restoration of serpentine ecosystems.

Diane Keesee

Diane Keesee has a passion for creating interesting signature cocktails, spirit infusions, shrubs, and bitters, using unique seasonal ingredients. She has been involved in hospitality management and the beverage industry for more than 20 years, including having worked for Greenville Country Club and Vicmead Hunt Club.

Scott Kelley

Scott Kelley is the Head Arborist at Mt. Cuba Center. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist® and qualified tree risk assessor.

Renée Kemmerer

Renée Kemmerer is Mt. Cuba Center’s Upper Naturalistic Gardens Horticulturist who continues her lifelong dream of working with native plants and exploring their natural communities. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware.

Ashley Kennedy, PhD, BCE

Ashley is the Delaware state Tick Biologist. She earned her MS (2013) and PhD (2019) in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. She has previously worked at the Army Public Health Center tick lab, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and the National Zoo.

Jay Kratz

Jay is a Mt. Cuba Center educator. Before coming to Mt. Cuba, he spent twenty years as a college instructor, and working with his wife at her family business, Hill House Herb Gardens in Providence, RI. In addition to being the luckiest boy in the world to spend his days with guests marveling at Mt. Cuba's gardens, he shares his enthusiasm for native plants outside Mt. Cuba's gates as the co-horticulturist and Rancocas chapter leader for the Native Plant Society of NJ, and as a native plant garden designer and landscaper.

Faith Kuehn

Faith B. Kuehn has spent most of her career working on pollinator conservation, invasive species control, and pest management. Her current project is Green Cabinet, focusing on pollinator conservation and therapeutic gardening at Planting Hope Gardens.

Ellen Lake, PhD

Ellen Lake, PhD, is the Director of Conservation and Research at Mt. Cuba Center. She taught environmental education and was the Education Director at the Brandywine and Red Clay Valley Associations. Ellen has a master’s degree in Entomology and Ph.D. in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware, where she researched biological control of mile-a-minute weed and how to integrate weed management techniques to restore plant communities. Ellen has extensive experience researching insect-plant interactions, including work for the USDA in the Greater Everglades ecosystem.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis, CPT, CNC, is an accredited T’ai Chi Chih instructor, personal trainer, and nutritional counselor. Sculpt Your Life, her private practice, provides a unique blend of customized exercise routines, solid nutritional advice, and movement-based relaxation principles for a diverse population of clients.

Lynn Mahaffy, PhD

Lynn Mahaffy, PhD, earned her doctorate in Natural Resources (Wildlife Conservation) at Cornell University. She currently teaches courses for the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware, including Environmental Biology, General Ecology, and her favorite, Field Ecology, which exposes students to all the fascinating organisms and habitats surrounding us.

William McAvoy

William McAvoy is Delaware’s State Botanist. He extensively studied and published on the flora and habitats of the state. He is the lead author on a comprehensive native plant resource, Flora of Delaware Online Database.

Aron McConnell

Dr. Aron McConnell, DPT is a physical therapist at Christiana Care Health Systems. He treats a variety of orthopedic and neurological conditions in clients of all ages. His personal ideology of physical therapy is each client should be treated with a custom program based on an individualized assessment and the client’s personal goals.

Holly Merker

Holly is an avid birder, educator, writer, and lecturer, who has a passion for bird conservation. She is an instructor for National Audubon and the American Birding Association and is the lead data reviewer for eBird in Pennsylvania. Holly believes in the powerful benefits nature holds for our wellbeing and is lead author on a book on the subject, aptly called Ornitherapy: For Your Mind, Body, and Soul, guiding readers into deeper connections to the birds around them.

Amy Nazdrowicz, PWS

Amy Nazdrowicz, PWS is a Professional Wetland Scientist and Qualified Bog Turtle Surveyor with Landmark Science & Engineering. Amy holds a Master of Science in Wildlife Ecology and is a Certified Habitat Steward with the Delaware Nature Society.

Samantha Nestory

Samantha Nestory is the engagement manager at Stoneleigh: A Natural Garden in Villanova, PA. She holds ecology and entomology degrees from the University of Delaware and is passionate about ecological gardening, native plants, and insect conservation.

Rowan Nygard

Rowan Nygard grew up exploring the creeks and forests around the Eno River State Park in Durham, North Carolina. There he found a deep appreciation of nature, and a desire to know more about the natural world around him. This search has serendipitously led him to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where he is studying horticulture at Longwood Gardens. Along the way he has immersed himself in the study of ecology, with a focus on mycology and the many ways that plants, animals, and fungi interact. He is a passionate citizen scientist and educator, and hopes to demystify the world of fungi so that everyone can see the natural world around them from the perspective of a mushroom.

Serah Pesce

Serah Pesce is the Education Specialist at Mt Cuba Center. She holds a BS in Landscape Contracting, Design/Build from Pennsylvania State University and is a Delaware Nature Society Certified Habitat Steward. In addition to teaching classes for the Ecological Gardening Certificate, she shares her extensive experience in floral design.

Steve Pyne

Steve Pyne is a Greenhouse Assistant at Mt. Cuba and worked for over ten years in the Victorian Fernery at Morris Arboretum. His current projects include propagating ferns, lycopods, and terrestrial orchids.

Robert Raguso, PhD

Robert Raguso, PhD, is a professor of Chemical Ecology at Cornell University. His research interests run the spectrum of insect-plant interactions mediated by chemistry, especially the role of fragrance in pollination ecology and animal behavior. He has promoted his research by organizing symposia, short courses, and workshops world-wide.

Margaret Saylor

Margaret Saylor is the editor/designer of ASBA’s The Botanical Artist journal. She earned a Certificate in Botanical art and Illustration, with distinction, from the NYBG.

Joe Sebastiani

Joe Sebastiani is the Ashland Nature Center Manager for the Delaware Nature Society. He is passionate about birds and wildlife, founded the Ashland Hawk Watch, and edits Delaware eBird, an online checklist program, for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Sara Setzer

Sara Setzer is a fiber artist who specializes in the art of felt work. Inspired by nature, she creates eco-dyed and printed scarves, wraps, and collars using natural materials and leaves.

Nathan Shampine

Nate Shampine, CERP, is Mt. Cuba Center’s Natural Lands Manager responsible for implementing land conservation practices and developing healthy and functional ecosystems. He is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and he is also a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner through the Society for Ecological Restoration.

Shelly Silva

Shelly Silva holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography from Corcoran College of Art + Design, an MS in Management from Wilmington University, and a Level II Award in Wines from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET). When Shelly is not teaching others about botanical cyanotypes or wine, she works as a digital communications specialist at the University of Delaware. She enjoys teaching people about the connections between nature, art, and the process of art making.

Judy Simon

Judy Simon is a botanical artist and freelance illustrator who has combined her love of gardening with her drawing and painting career. She is a member of the Philadelphia Society of Botanical Illustrators and the American Society of Botanical Artists. Her work is in many private collections.

Melissa Stanley

Melissa Stanley has been a yoga instructor for children and adults since 2015. Melissa teaches a variety of styles, levels and ages.

Melissa Starkey, PhD

Melissa Starkey, PhD, is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Mt. Cuba Center. She earned her PhD in biology from Northwestern University and an MSc in plant biodiversity and taxonomy from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh in Scotland. As part of her studies, she completed a certificate in field botany in Colombia. Melissa is an active Philadelphia County Master Gardener and PA Master Naturalist and serves on the Board of Directors at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center in PA, where she grew up.

Ian Stewart, PhD

Ian Stewart, PhD, was raised in Newcastle, England and received a doctorate in ornithology from the University of Leicester. He has conducted research on tree swallows and bluebirds and how local land management activities are affecting bird numbers and diversity throughout the year. Ian is currently an Ornithologist at the Delaware Nature Society. Ian is currently studying the effects of non-native plants on birds.

Derek Stoner

Derek Stoner is a past president of the Delmarva Ornithological Society, enjoys being out in nature, and is involved in improving land for floral and faunal biodiversity. His photographs and articles have been published in books, regional newspapers, nature magazines, and blogs.

Michael Strengari

Michael Strengari is a Senior Horticulturist at Mt. Cuba Center, where he works in the Formal Garden. During his career in horticulture he has gardened private estates, public institutions, and his home. He is a graduate of the Longwood Gardens Professional Gardener Program. With an eye for design and a passion for native plants he hopes to continue to inspire the public by creating and maintaining beautiful garden spaces.

Liana Thompson

Liana Thompson completed the Vibration Sound Therapy Certified Practitioner training with the Vibrational Sound Association in 2019. Her passion is in helping others gently address stress and emotional trauma using the healing sounds of the Tibetan singing bowls.

William Trescott

William Trescott is the Arboriculture Manager at Mt. Cuba Center where he has worked for 33 years. He is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist®.

Timothy Waller, PhD

Dr. Waller’s major responsibilities are to provide leadership and support for the commercial agriculture industries of southern New Jersey, specifically commercial nursery production in Cumberland County. He holds a PhD in Plant Biology (focused on Plant Pathology) and is tasked with mitigating pest issues (insects, diseases, weeds, herbivores), intercepting invasive species, improving farm sustainability and production techniques, as well as developing best management practices (BMPs) for the growers and green industry professionals of the region. Dr. Waller is serving in his second year with Rutgers Cooperative Extension but has worked in various sectors of agriculture for the last decade and has held a pesticide license since 2014.

Claire Zuidervliet

Claire Zuidervliet is the Conservation Propagator at Mt. Cuba Center, where she propagates a large variety of native plants in the conservation research greenhouse. She enjoys investigating the unique propagation needs for each of the species she works with and finds great joy in the first signs of germination. Before MCC, Claire worked as a Senior Grower at Longwood Gardens, where she managed the stock plant collection and specialty Chrysanthemum propagation. She earned her B.S. in Floriculture and Nursery Production from Delaware Valley University.

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