Delaware Botanic Gardens celebrates grant

Making plans for spring
January 31, 2018

In January, the days are lengthening minute by minute, and spring seems but a distant hope. Still, the seeds have arrived at hardware stores and garden centers, and just the sight of them inspires dreams of summer's flowering gardens.

At the Delaware Botanic Gardens on Pepper Creek, there has been no pause for winter. It is a giant leap of faith and a boatload of blood, sweat and tears to create a botanic garden from 37 acres of fallow farm fields and hilly woodlands. There are the things seen – the flowers, trees and pathways, and the things unseen – electrical service, irrigation and utilities, all of which need donations to make them happen.

In December, the DBG was awarded a generous multi-year grant from the Ellice and Rosa McDonald Foundation toward the creation of the Entry Garden which includes the drive in from Piney Neck Road, the parking area, and the Rhyne Garden, which will receive water from the adjacent building and paved surfaces.

Executive Director Sheryl Swed said, "We are grateful for this leadership grant for this important garden that will welcome visitors to the Delaware Botanic Garden, and hope that it will inspire others to donate so that it can go forward.”

Ray Sander, DBG board president, expressed thanks to the 137 friends and members who made donations to the DBG between Giving Tuesday in November and the year end, totaling nearly $30,000. He said, "There is still a steep hill to climb and many new friends to be made. As we begin 2018, we have raised over $2 million for this visionary project, and 95 percent of these funds have been spent here in Delaware with local firms and businesses which in turn helped create and sustain jobs in our region.” He added that $1.5 million is still needed to complete the work in Phase One to open the garden gates. For those who would like to make a legacy gift, there are opportunities for individuals to name a garden in memory or in honor of a loved one or family.

Creating a world-class botanic garden from the ground up is a costly endeavor. Gregg Tepper, DBG director of horticulture, said, "We are grateful for the tremendous encouragement and support we've received from nurseries and the landscape community. The in-kind donations from these partners and the work of our volunteers is so important to our success."

In September, the DBG will hold its annual farm dinner in the gardens for the first time. It will be a chance for the public to get a first look at the Delaware Botanic Gardens and see the Delmarva Meadow, designed by internationally renowned Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, in bloom for the first time. Tickets will go on sale this summer.

The mission of the DBG is to create an inspirational, educational and sustainable public garden in Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of all. The Delaware Botanic Gardens will celebrate the coastal plain with a flagship sustainable garden that delights and educates visitors, and inspires them to preserve Delmarva's native landscapes.

For more information on the Delaware Botanic Gardens, including membership and donations, go to