The museum, meanwhile, reopened last month with the introduction of two new exhibitions: "My Place Between the Bays: Community Commentary on Change," which looks at changes in the shore's landscape, economy and culture, and "Why Are We Here?: The Roots of Talbot County Identity."
Historical Society of Talbot County, 25 S. Washington St., Easton, MD 21601
* The museum is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Garden and museum admission are free. Guided house tours, $5, are available Tuesday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Historic London Town and Gardens
This eight-acre woodland garden, below Annapolis at the junction of South River and Almshouse Creek, is meant to educate -- and it succeeds mightily.
With its new, self-guided "Acoustiguide" tour, visitors are led through impressive collections of viburnums, wildflowers, hostas and holly while listening to a history of botanical exploration.
There's also some great stuff for the everyday gardener. During a pause at the peony bed, for example, you learn how to grow peonies in your own garden (they can take shade), that they make nice cut flowers, that deer won't eat them.
The garden, designed in the late 1960s, is set on the site of London Town, a port dating to the 1680s. The 23-acre tract includes an active archaeological dig and a National Historic Landmark, the Georgian-style William Brown house.
In a homage to its historic past, there's a kitchen garden, displaying a sampling of plants that would have been used for food and pharmaceuticals in the early 1700s.
Also interesting: the Richard Hill garden, showcasing examples of medicinal plants grown by the Colonial botanist. A dried specimen of Hill's wild senna, or Cassia marilandica, still exists in the collection of the British Museum. New this spring: a collection of plants native to Africa that arrived in America through the slave trade -- okra, black-eyed peas and peanuts, among them.
Historic London Town and Gardens, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD 21037
* Open year-round, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
* Admission: $7 for house and gardens; $4 for either the house or garden tour.
Ashland Nature Center
This is a real find. Operated by the Delaware Nature Society, Ashland offers four self-guided trails through forests, meadows and marshes and rolling terrain. To top it off, there's even a historic covered bridge.
It's wonderful open space, 131 acres of it accessible to the public. The society is dedicated to education, preservation and advocacy, and it shows. There's a great backyard habitat program, instruction on native plant gardening and an attitude of almost fierce stewardship of this pristine land.
And Ashland is about to become more visitor-friendly. Its visitor center was just renovated, and an interpretive kiosk near the entrance path is scheduled to open this month. Launching June 16: a butterfly habitat house.
If you only have time to explore one trail, do the Succession Trail, which leads from managed, mowed meadows to white pine woodlands to marshland. The views are great. If you're lucky, you'll spot a bluebird.
Ashland Nature Center, Brackenville and Barley Mill roads, Hockessin DE 19707
* Trails open sunrise to sunset. Trail use fees: $1 children, $2 adults. Visitor's center open Monday through Friday 8:30a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday 9a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 1p.m. to 4 p.m.
Mount Cuba Center
Now this is eye candy -- a pool shaped like a Maltese cross and surrounded by a stunning display of blue and purple delphiniums with an understory of pink tulips and pink English daisies.
Then there's the lilac allee, the cutting garden and the water gardens. But the piece de resistance of the Mount Cuba Center, in Greenville, Del., just a few miles from Ashland Nature Center, are the rolling wildflower gardens, so lush and grand that they require a two-hour docent-led walking tour to fully appreciate them.
Mount Cuba, now a nonprofit institution dedicated to the study of the Piedmont flora, was the estate of Lammot du Pont Copeland and his wife, Pamela, from 1936 to 2001, when Mrs. Copeland died.
During the late 1930s, formal gardens were designed by Philadelphia landscape architect Thomas W. Sears and later, in the 1950s, by noted landscape designer Marian C. Coffin.
Development of the wildflower gardens began in the 1960s, when the Copelands grew concerned about the fast-disappearing native wildflowers.
The grounds, some 630 acres, carry many reminders of Pamela Copeland, including an Airedale-shaped mailbox in which she stored her gardening tools.
Mount Cuba will reopen for tours in September. Appointments, however, are being taken now.
Mount Cuba Center, Greenville, Del. 19807
* By appointment only, open April-May and September-October. Admission is $5.