How did this botanical garden grow? With the unlikely arrival of a rock-star designer.

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Adrian Higgins, Gardening Columnist
The Washington Post, Home and Garden Section

When noted Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf arrived to oversee the first phase of planting of over 17,000 plants by volunteers in the meadow he is designing for Delaware Botanic Gardens, The Washington Post was on hand to cover the event.

DBG Wins Governor's Conservation Award

   
  
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    the DBG team at the Governor's Conservation Awards  (Photo by Ray Bojarski)  (Left to right) Senator Gary Simpson, Representative Ruth Briggs King, Representative Dave Wilson, Representative Rich Collins, Representative Harvey Kenton Mark Davidson, Associate Vice President, Pennoni Associates; Chris Baker, President, George & Lynch; Gregg Tepper, Director of Horticulture, Delaware Botanic Gardens; Raymond J. Sander, President, Delaware Botanic Gardens; David Baird, District Coordinator, Sussex Conservation District; Sheryl J. Swed, Executive Director, Delaware Botanic Gardens; Governor John Carney, Robert Emerson, President, DACD (Delaware Association of Conservation Districts); Kasey Taylor, State Conservationist, USDA-NRCS; Shawn Garvin, Secretary of DNREC

the DBG team at the Governor's Conservation Awards  (Photo by Ray Bojarski)

(Left to right) Senator Gary Simpson, Representative Ruth Briggs King, Representative Dave Wilson, Representative Rich Collins, Representative Harvey Kenton Mark Davidson, Associate Vice President, Pennoni Associates; Chris Baker, President, George & Lynch; Gregg Tepper, Director of Horticulture, Delaware Botanic Gardens; Raymond J. Sander, President, Delaware Botanic Gardens; David Baird, District Coordinator, Sussex Conservation District; Sheryl J. Swed, Executive Director, Delaware Botanic Gardens; Governor John Carney, Robert Emerson, President, DACD (Delaware Association of Conservation Districts); Kasey Taylor, State Conservationist, USDA-NRCS; Shawn Garvin, Secretary of DNREC

Governor John Carney presented the Governor's Urban Conservation Award for Sussex County to The Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek (DBG).  At the May 3 ceremony held at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover, Delaware, Governor Carney said, "Today's honorees have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to improving the environment, and on behalf of the people of Delaware, I would like to thank each of them for their dedication and for their time, effort, and investment to implement model conservation practices."  The Governor was joined by Secretary of DNREC Shawn Garvin who added, "This year's honorees are wonderful and diverse examples of how we can learn from the success of others and can all be better environmental stewards by taking thoughtful and important actions to protect and enhance our water and air quality."

Ray Sander, DBG President, said "On behalf of the DBG Board, our Advisory Council, our distinguished business partners, and our generous donors and supporters, we are honored to be recognized for our commitment to conservation. Conservation has been one of our core values from the very beginning of our project. Conservation is also one of the core values of the great companies who have brought their talents and positive values to the Delaware Botanic Gardens project. We especially want to thank the Governor, our Sussex County legislators and the Sussex Conservation District for their support for Delaware Botanic Gardens.

Business and thought leaders have offered their reactions to DBG's conservation award:

"Economic growth motivated by environmental conservation greatly contributes to the economy and promotes sustainability. Botanic gardens motivate business and residential choices and encourage investment in natural resource protection. Pennoni is very proud to be the Consulting Engineers for the Delaware Botanic Gardens, a role we have played from the inception of the project. Pennoni’s investment in providing time and talent to projects such as this is an investment back into our communities on iconic projects that provide a social benefit," said Chuck Pennoni, Chairman of the Board, Pennoni Associates. Greg Sawka, President and CEO of Bancroft Construction noted "we are excited to serve as the project's Construction Manager and to work alongside some of the most devoted owners and inspirational designers in the business."  Chris Baker, President of George & Lynch, commented "as a life-long resident, I appreciate the vision and extraordinary efforts of the founders to provide for conservation, education and sensory enjoyment. The Delaware Botanic Gardens will be a unique cultural resource and a great asset for residents and the tourism industry."

Casey Sclar, Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association, noted "on behalf of our 600 Association member gardens, we are thrilled that with this award, Delaware has recognized the unique conservation contributions made by public gardens. The Delaware Botanic Gardens will contribute to the improved health of the Inland Bays and will benefit the unique ecological and agricultural features that co-exist in Southern Delaware."  Mariah Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery & Distillery, added that "we are participating in this great project because we support DBG's important environmental education role to motivate people to interact with nature and to learn first-hand the importance of conservation."

"Our nationally and internationally renowned designers, Lake/Flato Architects, RAS Landscape Architects and Piet Oudolf have strong commitments to helping us create a beautiful, sustainable public garden which celebrates our region and demonstrates the value of conservation," said Sheryl Swed, DBG Executive Director. Swed continued, "Our project is honored to be included with the other distinguished conservation honorees from across our great state."  "The Delaware Botanic Gardens' conservation commitment will be evident in every aspect of our management of the land and our approach to plant and water conservation," remarked Gregg Tepper, DBG Director of Horticulture.

The Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek has embarked on a multiyear, multiphase plan to establish a flagship botanic garden for Delmarva that manifests the values motivating all garden lovers everywhere—from the magnificence of nature to the role of horticulture in learning, enjoyment, health and conservation. Founded in 2012 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Delaware Botanic Gardens will celebrate the coastal plain with a flagship sustainable garden that delights and educates visitors and inspires them to preserve Delmarva’s native landscapes.  It will create a unique, inspirational, and accessible garden for public benefit and pleasure. 

Presentation on the Master Plan in Wilmington

At the Delaware Nature Society's (DNS) inspirational Ashland Nature Center, more than 60 garden enthusiasts and horticultural thought leaders gathered on March 30 for the first public presentation of the Delaware Botanic Gardens' (DBG) Master Plan.

This Master Plan is the result of a twelve-month iterative process led by Rodney Robinson and Allan Summers of RAS Landscape Architects. Carla Markel, Delaware's former first lady and chair of the garden’s advisory council, in her opening remarks recognized the leadership of the DBG Board and all the firms and individuals who are working to bring a new public garden to the region and the State.  Rodney Robinson and Allan Summers unveiled the Master Plan and reviewed the design process, the details and multifaceted features of the garden's creative and beautifully crafted Master Plan.

The event's success was due to the great cooperation of the region's leading Horticulture organizations, the Delaware Nature Society, the Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Garden Club of Wilmington. DBG looks forward to other cooperative events with these organizations.

Construction documents signed

In mid-February 2017 DBG's final construction and site plan documents were signed by various officials involved in development of the future garden along Pepper Creek. Dennis Forney, chair of the Sussex County Land Trust—which has leased the waterfront site to the garden—joined with DBG Vice President Ray Sander and Executive Director Sheryl Swed to mark the occasion. Forney photographs courtesy Maddy Lauria, Cape Gazette

David Heatwole of Pennoni Associates, the project engineer, also added his signature. Evelyn Maurmeyer of Coastal & Estuarine Research provided the wetlands delineation for the document.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams

Robbie Tarpley Raffish | Coastal Style Magazine | January-February 2017

She may be the former Delaware first lady by the time this article is published, but Carla Markell is likely to be the first lady of Delaware Botanic Gardens for far longer. She has been a major supporter of the DBG, donating her time as chair of the Advisory Council. Here, she answers a few questions about where her passion for gardens comes from and where she sees the DBG headed.

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Delaware Botanic Gardens ready to bloom in Sussex

Delaware Botanic Gardens ready to bloom in Sussex

Maddy Lauria | Cape Gazette | December 6, 2016

Along the quiet shores of Pepper Creek near Dagsboro, a world-class attraction is beginning to take shape.

State and local officials, volunteers and supporters broke ground Dec. 1 at a 37-acre parcel set to become Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek featuring natural woodlands, wetlands, meadow gardens and a serene waterfront view.

“Delaware Botanic Gardens is probably one of the most important and ambitious projects in Sussex County today,” said Delaware Botanic Gardens President Sue Ryan. “This site epitomizes the Eastern Shore, the Delmarva Peninsula – from our native trees, the plants, the smell of the marsh, the ocean – it just does not get better than this site.”

The concept of establishing a botanic garden in southern Delaware began years ago and was solidified in 2014 when the group signed a lease with the Sussex County Land Trust to use the former farmed tract for $1 a year, renewable for 99 years.

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Photo of Ray Sander and Dennis Forney by Jamie Pruitt, Bancroft Construction Company

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