Large birds nests in the Delware Botanic Garden’s Woodland Garden were created from reclaimed wood when clearing the garden. The woods have over a mile and a half of ADA-compliant pathways that are an easy stroll down to Pepper Creek. (Photo by Kathy Jentz)

It takes your breath away. The two-acre Meadow Garden at the newly-opened Delaware Botanic Garden in Sussex County was designed by world-renowned landscape designer Piet Oudulf.
It is probably why you made the trip, but until you see it in person, you are not prepared for how beautiful it is.
Waves of (mostly native) grasses and perennials move with the breezes and form ever-changing patterns.
More than 70,000 plants were put in to create the installation, but it takes a while for your eyes to focus on individual selections.
The entire garden is more than the sum of its parts.
The best vantage point over the meadow is a grass knoll about two-thirds of the way in.
From that vista, you can take photos of the surrounding views or just stand and observe.
The garden is full of visiting birds and pollinators.
This is a garden that demands visiting in each season to experience the layers and natural interactions of the meadow.
From dried seed-heads to newly emerging foliage, there is something to appreciate all year round.
Exploring the Gardens
Next to the meadow is the new Inland Dunes habitat garden.
Landscape architect Karen Steenhoudt designed the area as an interpretation of a rare native Delmarva habitat with a connection to Delaware’s natural heritage.
It is paired with the Wetlands Outdoor Classroom to act as a demonstration of nature ecosystems for educators and researchers to use.
Stepping in the shade, one finds the Folly Garden.
It is built on the sight of the former farmhouse, which once stood on the property.
Bricks from the foundation were collected and stacked to form a semi-enclosed clearing on the edge of the woodlands.
Thousands of spring-blooming bulbs that were donated after the 2017 Philadelphia Flower Show (Holland theme year) are planted around the pathways. There is a small crevice island and some iron gate pieces that hint at the agricultural history at the location.
Following a path deeper into the Woodland Garden, you pass by several large man-made bird’s nests.
They were created from reclaimed wood when clearing the garden.
The woods have over a mile and a half of ADA-compliant pathways that are an easy stroll down to Pepper Creek.
The water is rising there and is slowly encroaching on the pathways.
That sign of climate change is intentionally being left uncorrected and it will be measured and studied in years to come.
Keep a sharp eye out for the several specimen hollies planted throughout the landscapes.
These 32 American holly trees were donated from the Charles R. Anderson Holly Collection in Owings Mills, Md.
Anderson was a former president of the Holly Society of America.
Years in the Making
The brand new Delaware Botanic Garden in Ocean View, Del., took seven years from conception to opening.
The years only tell part of the story, though.
The dedication of dozens of volunteers, the board of directors, and a tiny staff was the force behind making it happen.
All gardeners know that a garden is never truly “finished” or ready for company.
It is always a moving target of more to be done, so it is a real accomplishment to see not only that the Meadow Garden in fine shape at opening time, but also extensive progress on many other sections of the property.
In years to come the garden will mature and develop in exciting ways.
Plan Your Visit
The DBG is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon. Admission is $15 for adults and free for DBG members.
For directions and other details, visit
The welcome center is a modest wooden building — actually an enlarged garden shed plan — where visitors can check-in and get information before taking a self-guided tour of the grounds or sign up for the 10 a.m. daily guided tours for an additional $10 fee.
(Editor’s note: Kathy Jentz is the editor/publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine. She can be reached by e-mailing or calling 301-588-6894.)