Garden enthusiasts surround us

July 21, 2019

I love when a column invites enthusiasm from my readers.

Reader Margaret Kimmel is a volunteer at Delaware Botanic Gardens. In her letter, she wrote, “’Where are all the butterflies?’ (July 7, 2019) was a delightful article…and if you care about pollinators and butterflies in particular, then ... you should see the Meadow at Delaware Botanic Gardens! For those who are not familiar, Delaware Botanic Gardens is a grassroots effort to develop a 37-acre site on Pepper Creek outside Dagsboro, Delaware, into a botanic garden highlighting the rich diversity of plants on the Delmarva Coastal Plain.

”We have been fortunate to enlist the help of world-renowned landscape designer Piet Oudolf in developing a 2+ acre meadow of pollinator friendly wildflowers and grasses. In addition, there are surrounding gardens replicating the inland dunes of Sussex County, a woodland edge garden and approximately 10 acres of woods. The edge gardens expand the variety of nectar and host plants for pollinators, and the naturally occurring trees of the woodlands also play a vital and sometimes overlooked role.

”The woodlands at Delaware Botanic Gardens include many native trees including black cherry, tulip and sassafras, which feed the caterpillars of several Swallowtail butterflies and many other species. By focusing on mostly native plants, the Delaware Botanic Gardens is naturally becoming a haven for pollinators of all types.”

The Delaware Botanic Gardens are set to open to the general public Monday, Sept. 16. But Kimmel says, “If your curiosity cannot wait until then, there is a team of dedicated volunteers who welcome all new garden friends who want to help in any way, maybe even by planting plants and pulling weeds!” More information on volunteering and upcoming events is available through the website

Lots of exciting activities and volunteer opportunities are taking place at another garden in Stango Park in Lewes. The Children’s Learning Garden was established in 2013 by Lewes In Bloom. Their mission statement is “to create a learning garden where families can see how local fruits, flowers and vegetables grow.”

Last Friday, 64 children opened bags containing 1,000 ladybugs and released them into the garden. Volunteer Diane Stevens said, “The kids have so much fun!”

On July 26, there will be singing and discovering sensory herbs; on Aug. 2, arts and crafts opportunities will be available; Aug. 9, there will be music in the garden; and Aug. 16, the final Friday activity, the children will be making salsa with veggies from the garden. In case of inclement weather, the activities are held in the children's room of the Lewes Public Library.

After reading my last column about local residents raising monarch butterflies, Milton resident Gary Liska wrote to say he has set up three National Wildlife Federation monarch waystations both here in Delaware and in Pennsylvania. Liska is a member of the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project and Monarch Watch.

“This year, I've raised and planted over 1,000 milkweed from seed. I also give them away to residents along Broadkill Beach. Last year I was rearing 205 caterpillars at the peak of the season and released over 250 final generation, those heading to Mexico.”

Gary also provides scientific data for parasitic research to several universities which are studying monarch caterpillars. Anyone wishing to contact him about setting up a monarch waystation can email

These dedicated volunteers are to be congratulated!

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