Exciting things are happening in the small town of Dagsboro, Delaware! Fellows and students in the University of Delaware’s Plant and Soil Science Department enjoyed the beautiful spring weather earlier this month while visiting the site of Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, a new garden on the cusp of opening to the public. Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek will be situated on a unique 37 acres in Southern Delaware. The site is unique due to its dramatic range of topography, uncommon in Sussex County, Delaware, which includes former farmland to early-succession hardwood forest to wetland marsh, complete with 1,000 feet of waterfront along tidal Pepper Creek.
Fellows learned about the vision for the garden, currently in the beginning phases of development, from Board President Susan Ryan, Executive Director Sheryl Swed, and Board Vice President Raymond Sander. Rodney Robinson, FASLA and principal at Robinson Anderson Summers, a landscape design firm in Wilmington, Delaware, has been instrumental in working with Garden leadership to shape the future garden experience.
Robinson described the importance of creating a garden that responds to its location as an Atlantic coastal plain and leveraging the natural landscape. The focus of current planning is choreographing the entrance experience and the Garden is working with Lake|Flato Architects to design a visitor center that complements the landscape around it. That landscape will feature a meadow designed by noted Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf. Known for his designs featuring swaths and drifts of perennials and grasses, such as those seen at The High Line in New York City and Lurie Garden in Chicago, he has been given carte blanche with regard to the meadow at Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.
Director of Horticulture Greg Tepper, gardener Sam Cashdollar, and volunteers have been hard at work creating paths throughout the hardwood forest. Thoughtfully planned and executed, these paths offer the visitor a way to wander and explore until they reach the banks of Pepper Creek. The Fellows’ favorite garden accent were the large nests made from brush cleared out of the understory!
Many thanks to Jules Bruck, Associate Professor at the University of Delaware, for coordinating this trip, the board members and staff at Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, and Rodney Robinson for taking time to share this fantastic new garden space with us! We can’t wait to visit again!