Canada toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis) spotted

This is Nuttallanthus canadensis, known commonly as Canada toadflax. Its lovely pale purple and white blooms occur naturally here in the part shade of our loblolly pine woodlands, where there are thin patches in the pine needles. It thrives in the sandy, acid soil and benefits from the high canopy where openings to the sunlight occur. This native annual, which is distantly related to snapdragons, has seeded about quite readily, producing attractive stands.

Spotted on site: Hamamelis vernalis 'Amethyst'

I found this winter-blooming witch hazel, Hamamelis vernalis 'Amethyst', at the Delaware Botanic Gardens site today. According to the supplier Forestfarm at Pacifica, "Lovely plum-lavender-ribboned flowers emit a spicy fragrance when they mid-winter on this large rounded bush with its dark-gray-green foliage (bright scarlet in fall) ... two treats to look forward to!"

Garden Professional spotlight

Gregg would not want to brag, so we are doing it for him!

He is featured in the Garden Professional Spotlight of the magazine published by the American Public Gardens Association. This feature will bring more public awareness to the Delaware Botanic Gardens and Gregg's role in building our new garden from the ground up.

Congratulations, Gregg!

Magazine photograph of Gregg Tepper by Ken Arni.

Clearing the Woodland Gardens

Work has begun on the western section of the Woodland Gardens. Thick sections of greenbrier are being removed to make room for future plantings of native shrubs and trees. This wooded edge will feature many of our native vines as well.


Before and after greenbrier removal. There is literally no shrub layer or new tree saplings starting as the heavy growth of greenbrier and heavy pressure from hungry deer prevent it from being established. With it cleared we can begin plans for re-establishing, which includes using an organic deer repellant until a deer exclusion fence goes in.

A large greenbrier thicket before and after the thicket was removed. The decaying wood stays put, as it provides a naturalistic aesthetic and is home to many insects and grubs on which the birds feed. The rotting logs and cut-up debris also stays put!

A highlight of my career

An immense highpoint to my horticultural career occurred this past week with meeting Piet Oudolf. We were very fortunate to have him visit the property of the future Delaware Botanic Gardens and agree to design the meadow. I found Piet to be warm, approachable and thoroughly engaging with a true love for plants! 

It was all possible because of the connection that my dear friend Barbara made through Facebook. I'm excited for the future! Thank you, Barbara!

Future home of many native trees, shrubs, and vines

Though void now of any shrubs or new trees, this will change as we reestablish the shrub layer with native blueberries (Vaccinium) viburnums, hollies (Ilex), and serviceberries (Amelanchier), to name a few. A slope that starts nearby and continues to the Pepper Creek is about 20 feet above sea level. A more noticeable descent—unusual in this coastal plain area—adds great interest for viewing the layers of the Woodlands.

The glory of autumn in the west-side Woodlands

Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) red maple (Acer rubrum), and black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) team up to create an awesome color display! 

The shapes of the trunks contrast beautifully. The leaf color, the darkness of the trunks, the clear blue sky, and the dappled sunlight all add to this visual delight.