Delaware Botanic Gardens in Dagsboro offers a glimpse of the future

Sipping and sauntering through a meadow in Dagsboro
May 11, 2018

Story Location:
30220 Piney Neck Road
Dagsboro  Delaware  19939
United States

The number of neon flags marking plants outnumbering the number of plants on the Delaware Botanic Gardens meadow, but that didn’t bother Piet Oudolf. He’s the famed Dutch gardener and meadow creator, who was on hand May 4 at the gardens’ first public showing.

“It has some energy already,” he said, while sitting on one of two grass-covered mounds designed to allow visitors to sit and be a part of the meadow or stand to view the meadow from above. “It’s already creating a level of curiosity.”

Sip and Saunter celebrated the gardens’ woodland area, progress made in the meadow, and the recent addition of 30,000 plants and grasses to the 17,000 planted last year.

Oudolf’s services are in high demand – he said at any given time, he has 20 projects in some stage of development. He said he chose to work on this project for two reasons.

First was the chance to work on such an isolated piece of land – an open canvas. He said many of his projects are in cities and defined by specific space.

“There aren’t many gardens of this size open to the public,” said Oudolf, who among other projects created the High Line in New York City.

Oudolf said the second reason was the gardens’ volunteers.

“I want to know that if I create something, there will be people after I leave who are going to keep it alive,” he said. “I’ve never seen such a dedicated group of people before. These are skilled people who know what they’re doing.”

Oudolf said the majority of the plants are native, but not all of them are. “There’s so many good-natured plants,” he said, with a smile. “It’s about finding flowers that behave well together.”

Delaware Botanic Gardens President Ray Sander said the event was a chance to introduce the botanic garden to some of the people who were making it happen. Up until now, it took some creativity to see the future, he said.

“Now there’s some reality to it,” Sander said.

Rep. Ron Gray, R-Selbyville, presented Oudolf with a tribute from the House. Afterward, Gray said before this project took off, he didn’t really appreciate the idea of a botanic garden. Now, he said, when traveling, he and his family will stop at other botanic gardens.

“You’ve got me in the know,” he said.

Gregg Tepper, director of horticulture, was walking around the grounds with a site map giving visitors impromptu overviews of the property. With his trusty hand trowel attached to his shorts, he said the botanic garden was literally and figuratively growing and evolving.

Tepper said there is still a lot of work to do, as the botanic gardens are only a couple years into a 10-year plan.

“We’ve really just started with the plantings,” he said, clearly excited about the progress and what the future holds.

For more information on the master plan, volunteering or donating to the Delaware Botanic Gardens, go to, email Executive Director Sheryl Swed at or call 202-262-9856.