Mt Cuba Center
Explore the Gardens Virtual Tour Virtual Tour

Thanks for a great year! Mt. Cuba Center is closed for general admission for the season and will reopen on April 3, 2024.

An ecological gardening certificate student completes a Native Plants of Fall exam in Mt. Cuba Center's naturalistic gardens.
Ecological Gardening Certificate Learn More Learn More
Program Guide

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

Wide shot of flowering Amsonia.
Latest Trial: Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region Amsonia for the Mid-Atlantic Region
Trial Garden

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

Mt. Cuba Center's natural lands pictured at sunset.
Protecting Natural Lands Learn More Learn More
Ecological Land Management

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

Two guests walk down the West Slope path in spring at Mt. Cuba Center.
Gift a Membership Gift Guide Gift Guide

Enjoy unlimited general admission, member discounts, guest passes, and more!

Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – February 3, 2021


Successful Small Space Gardening

Don’t let a small yard prevent you from growing your dream garden. Flowers and plants bring beauty and ecological benefits to spaces of all sizes. Nancy Bell, instructor of Small Space Gardening, is ready to show you all the ways to maximize your green thumb even with minimal space. Learn about easy-to-care-for colorful perennials, compact shrubs, vines, and small flowering trees.

Bell uses her knowledge from Gateway Garden Center and her Certificate of Merit in Ornamental Horticulture from Longwood Gardens to ensure that even the small space gardener reaps the benefits of a fruitful one. Read below for more information about Bell’s upcoming class. Then register below to take this online class either February 19 (Section A) or February 20 (Section B).

Spring container garden


About 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.

Mt. Cuba Center: You are a “Garden Coach” at Gateway Garden Center. That’s a great title! What do you love about being a garden coach?

Nancy Bell: I love the personal interaction with people and helping them to achieve success with their gardens. Most people have a good foundation to begin understanding how their landscape connects to the larger natural world, but they just haven’t been able to take the first steps.

Mt. Cuba Center: Your upcoming class takes an approach that even those with a little bit of space can make an impact on the native environment. Can you share a starting point or a simple step that gardeners can take to get started with a small space?

Nancy Bell: Small gardens can be an important part of a vital and necessary contribution to our community. Native plants are the first essential layer in our ecosystems. It’s where sunlight is transformed into usable energy for the rest of the food web. Our native insects eat our native plants that they have co-evolved with and are interdependent. Most of our native birds, when they are raising their young, feed them live food. Much of that food is caterpillars and other insects. Whenever we deliberately put native plants back into our home landscapes, we help to make a positive impact on our local environment.

Mt. Cuba Center: Which native plant do you most often recommend small space gardeners grow?

Nancy Bell: There can and I think, should be several layers to a garden, even a small one. I’ll give an example for each of those layers. A Crabapple is a good small tree to add to the landscape, especially for the number of caterpillars it can support. Blueberries are a great shrub to consider. For a perennial I like the Milkweed family for its ability to support the Monarch butterfly and well as provide nectar for many other species.

Mt. Cuba Center: What do you think the biggest reward is for those who begin gardening in small spaces?

Nancy Bell: When you start to put native plants in your backyard, it begins to come alive. The birds will come to visit and enrich your life with their songs. The butterflies (which I like to think of as living jewels), add movement and another kind of beauty to your garden. When you plant natives, you invite nature to join you at your home.

Mt. Cuba Center: You teach a wide range of classes each season at Mt. Cuba, what do you find most rewarding about being an instructor?

Nancy Bell: When I was 10 years old, my family moved from Philadelphia to a new development in the suburbs. Suddenly, I had woods and fields and streams to explore. Explore, I did! I developed a very personal love of nature which was encouraged by my mother. The passion that began then, is what drives my teaching. I love explaining how each of us can make a difference and that it isn’t hard or complicated, we just need to start.


Successful Small Space Gardening (Online)
February 19 (Section A) from 10 – 11:30 am

Register Here

Members Register Here

February 20 (Section B) from 10 – 11:30 am

Register Here

Members Register Here