The Homestead Garden at Rehoboth Art League is set to receive new renovations come November. Denise Clemons, RAL board vice chair and a Delaware master gardener, will oversee the changes. The garden is situated behind the Peter Marsh Homestead on the art league’s Henlopen Acres campus.
The original garden was created in 1931 by Louise Corkran, who lived in the Homestead with her husband Peter Marsh. Her original vision will remain true in the renovations, Clemons said. Renovations will remove invasive plant species which contribute to natural biodiversity loss. New, native plants that are drought-tolerant and deer-resistant will be planted. The current brick pathways will be uprooted to implement a new lighting and irrigation system. Afterward, the original bricks will be put back in a way that is ADA compliant.
The renovations were made possible by Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, and Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach. “Both Lopez and Schwartzkopf really worked to get this done for us,” said RAL Executive Director Sara Ganter. “We are eternally grateful for their support.”
RAL hosted the Sea Breeze cocktail party Sept. 18 to raise funds for garden upkeep, which is primarily performed by community volunteers. That Saturday night, the garden was filled with a mix of art lovers, garden enthusiasts and RAL supporters, Ganter said. The crowd enjoyed cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and live jazz for the evening.
Cheryl Mitchell attended the Sea Breeze party with her husband. Mitchell leads a charity organization called Lunch with a Purpose that held a Sept. 8 fundraiser for RAL. “I am passionate about Sussex County charities, especially ones in need of funding,” she said.
The garden is free to the public for visits, but also a large part of programming at RAL. “We have classes back here that meet to do painting; we have summer camps that come out and use the plants in the garden to make their art,” Ganter said. “It’s sort of a catchall. We do a lot back here, but with the renovations, we will be able to use it a lot more.”
Brook Hedge, RAL board chair, described the Homestead Garden as work of art itself. “Come spring, it will all be a whole new piece of artwork, but it'll be nature’s artwork and another beautiful aspect of the art league,” Hedge said.
Clemons shared a similar sentiment: “[In gardening,] you have to know what colors play well together and what plant textures play well together. It is definitely an art and a skill to be able to do that.”
RAL creates exhibitions and programming for local artists, residents and visitors, as well as children and underserved populations in Sussex County. The organization raises 95% of its yearly funds through its own efforts, Ganter said. To learn more, go to rehobothartleague.org.