Public welcome to rare look at botanic garden

Date Published: 
November 25, 2016

Coastal Point • Susan Lyons: From left, Peggie Ravida, Karen Dudley, Selma Tepper, Greg Tepper, Janet Point and Carol McCloud volunteered last week to get some work done at the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.Coastal Point • Susan Lyons: From left, Peggie Ravida, Karen Dudley, Selma Tepper, Greg Tepper, Janet Point and Carol McCloud volunteered last week to get some work done at the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.Beside a quiet country road, sunny fields stretch toward a leafy forest that hides beauties within. A 37-acre public garden is coming to Dagsboro, and the public is being invited to the groundbreaking of Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek on Thursday, Dec. 1.

Public tours will begin at 10 a.m., focusing on the Woodlands pathways down to Pepper Creek. The ceremony will begin sometime between 11 and 11:30 a.m.

It’s been several years since the volunteer group formed to create a “world-class, inspirational, educational” public garden on Piney Neck Road, just outside of Dagsboro.

“It’s a seminal event,” said Ray Sander, board treasurer. It’s perhaps the first public opportunity to witness what’s happening behind the scenes. “They can take a tour there and see what we’ve done. … We’re moving ahead.”

People can explore the newly-cut forest pathways to the gently flowing Pepper Creek. They’ll walk inside the giant “bird nests” that Director of Horticulture Gregory Tepper made from excess brush and branches.

One day, the meadow will stand beside a pond, pavilion and wedding area. The forest will have ADA-accessible paths. The waterfront view will be designed to surprise every visitor in the woodlands.

Until then, this groundbreaking is the capstone on a great year for the Delaware Botanic Gardens. They surpassed a major fundraising goal, which triggered more grant funding. Sussex County has approved nearly all final site plans, so DBG just needs some permits. Internationally-acclaimed designer Piet Oudolf sent plans for creating the meadow, and DBG leaders are scheduling plant acquisitions from local nurseries.

“It’s just a good way to end 2016 on a nice high note,” Sander said.

Special guests for the groundbreaking will include Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware First Lady Carla Markell (chair of the DBG Advisory Board), Eleuthere du Pont of the Longwood Foundation (donors to the project) and other dignitaries.

Behind the scenes, a “dream team” of renowned design professionals are creating the garden’s master plan, including architecture firm Lake/Flato, meadow designer Oudolf and Delaware designer Rodney Robinson of RAS Landscape Architects.

The public can still help by contributing donations, becoming members or volunteering.

“We’re encouraging people to become members,” because that has a big impact, especially at the end of the tax year, Sander said. “We’d love for people to think about the botanic garden.”

Donations may be made online at www.delawaregardens.org or by check mailed to Delaware Botanic Gardens; P.O. Box 1390; Ocean View, DE 19970.

Southern Delaware Botanic Gardens Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Anyone interested in attending the groundbreaking should RSVP by emailing sherylswed@gmail.com.

The garden site is located on Piney Neck Road, about 1.5 miles from Main Street in Dagsboro.