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Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – August 1, 2023

Updates

The Path Forward 

By George Coombs 

Mt. Cuba Center is about to break ground on an exciting new project that will improve how guests experience our gardens. Beginning August 1, 2023, the Woods Path will be converted to Porous Pave™, a flexible paving material made from recycled rubber and stone aggregate. This path upgrade will provide the first accessible experience through one of our naturalistic gardens. Compared to the existing wood mulch path, the Porous Pave™ material is easily traversed by guests of all mobility levels. When mixed with a proprietary binder, the rubber and stone form a sturdy but porous structure. Similar paths have already been installed in Mt. Cuba’s Woodland Glade and near the Trial Garden and many of our guests enjoy the subtle soft feel underfoot. 

Woods path in summer

Image 1: A view of the Wood’s Path in summer. 

However, this type of material wasn’t chosen specifically for comfort. It was chosen because it meets our environmental and accessibility needs. From an environmental standpoint, this 4400 square foot installation will remove over 23,000 pounds of tires from the waste stream. Additionally, the porous nature allows rainwater to infiltrate right where it falls unlike asphalt or concrete paths that exacerbate stormwater runoff and erosion. Permeability is a particularly important feature given that Mt. Cuba’s pathways already experience a lot of stormwater challenges, which will only become more severe as rain events become more intense. The porous material also provides a better environment for the roots of our mature tree canopy, allowing both air and water to freely exchange with the soil. 

Porous paved path next to the Trial garden

Image 2: The Porous Pave™ path from the Trial Garden. 

Beyond changing the walking surface, this project includes other guest experience enhancements, like increased Wi-Fi coverage and path lights to improve the safety of our guests during evening events. The new LED light fixtures utilize a fraction of the electrical demand of traditional bulbs and are also Dark Sky approved. Fixtures with this designation are specifically designed to minimize light pollution and wildlife impacts. To reduce the effects on wildlife in our garden even further, the lights will be connected to a centralized control system allowing them to be turned on only while guests are in the garden.  

This project builds upon other recent renovations, and there’s more to come. Stay tuned for updates on our South Garden redesign taking place while Mt. Cuba is closed this winter. Combined, these projects will approximately double the accessible experience of our gardens ahead of the 2024 visitation season. 

The map below shows the area where the new paths, lighting, and Wi-Fi are being installed. These garden spaces will be closed while work is being performed. We anticipate being able to reopen these areas to our guests in September. 

Map showing woods path closure during construction