Newark Wildlife Garden by “Sheila A. Smith”

Garden description: A Backyard Habitat since 2006, this former 1/4 acre of lawn, features over 100 species of native trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, vines, and perennials arranged in large curvy beds that surround a grassy meadow area. The Button Bush, Bee Balm and Elderberry are pollinator hotspots in the spring and summer! The Milkweed, Violets and Oak tree are essential host plants to larva of butterflies and moths. Dogwood, Viburnum and Coneflower provide nutritious seeds and berries. Asters, Goldenrod, and native grasses light up the fall scene with color and pollinator buzz.
Who are the gardeners: Just me. I’ve been gardening with natives for wildlife for 20 years (Or more?) I’m a former Teacher Naturalist for Delaware Nature society, a retired Science teacher, currently a Backyard Habitat Steward for DNS and the National Wildlife Federation, and a volunteer at the Mt Cuba Center.
Why do you garden: I started gardening as a kid with my dad. I had dahlias one year. Even had a “Cottage” style garden at my rented home during my college years. Once I was introduced to the wider concept of ecology and providing for birds and insects it’s been my goal to get the word out.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: With the early mild weather and not much else to do I’d say I have been extremely grateful for my hobby and my garden has never been more well tended!
What do you have in your garden? With only a few exceptions the plants are native trees; White oak, birch, Black Tupelo, Dogwoods, Serviceberry, Basswood, Ironwood, Hop Hornbeam, PawPaw and more. Native shrubs include viburnum ( 5 species) American Beautyberry, Chokeberry, Pussy Willow, Button Bush, Spice Bush, Bottlebrush Buckeye, Winterbery Holly, Fothergilla, Sweetspire, Clethra, Ninebark, Oakleaf Hydrangea and more. Native Perennials include, Blue vervain, Larkspur, Phlox, Coneflower, Cardinal Flower, Great Blue Lobelia, Goldenrod (5 species), Milkweed (3 species), jewelweed, Joe-Pye weed, asters, Anise Hyssop, Helianthus, Heliopsis, Black Eyed Susan, Coreopsis (3 species) and wild natiives that came in on their own, White Avens, Bidens Frodosa, Spotted Spurge, Indian Tobacco, White vervain. Ferns Ferns Ferns, Grasses, Andropogen, Switch Grasses, and Carexes (5 species) and Slender Path Rush.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Native plants in general have fewer pests. Increased biodiversity gives the gardener a built in integrated pest management. There are a wide variety of bird and insects that help with balanced predation.

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The 1401 Secret Garden by “The 1401 Condo Garden Volunteers”

Garden description: The 1401 Secret Garden was named by its designer, Jack Severyn, who lived at The 1401. The walled garden at the back of the 1960 high-rise is a city-block long with a depth ranging from about 12 feet at the eastern end to about 30 feet at the west end. As Severyn found it, it was an overgrown flat flood plain with bamboo, shrubs, ground-cover, with the main feature being neglect. Severyn, a Longwood Gardens-certified Master Gardener created a space with varying levels and eight distinct garden themes. The private garden is for the enjoyment of the residents of the 180 or so units. With everything from a Fernery to a Marshland to River Flats, the garden space was transformed from a mess to a calming respite within the city. The distinct spaces provide vibrant color in the spring with the bulbs in bloom and the weeping cherry putting on a show. There are nooks for sitting and reading, or sharing cocktails with a few friends at the end of the workday. Even on the hottest summer days, there seems to be a magical western breeze and plenty of shade. In pre-covid days, the patio adjoining the garden for its full length was the place for building-wide gatherings and cook-outs to welcome the spring and say farewell to summer. Even now, small gatherings occur at the spur of the moment, with plenty of space for multiple parties to safely sit adhering to social distancing guidelines and enjoy their drinks, snacks and conversation. Some even take advantage of the 200-foot length to enjoy a daily walk or work-out with the view of a gorgeous secret garden, safe from traffic or uneven sidewalks. A plaque on the eastern wall memorializes Severyn, who passed away in 2017. The Secret Garden is tended by a dedicated group of Jack’s friends whom he guided in the proper care of his beautiful design.
Who are the gardeners: Our small group of gardening volunteers are retirees with experience in keeping gardens of their own. Many of us still maintain our own gardens on other properties and tend to plants, flowers and even vegetables on our balconies.
Why do you garden: Most of the volunteers have a love of gardening from earlier days in previous residences. Working together to maintain the Secret Garden is a cooperative effort to add beauty to be enjoyed by all who live in the 1401 Condominium. This was coincidentally Jack Severyn’s vision for the Secret Garden.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: The uncertainty of the pandemic and being sequestered initially slowed our volunteers’ springtime efforts. Hence, shopping for new plantings was delayed. When we were more sure of what sorts and amounts of socializing we could engage in, and spring growth demanded attention, we resumed enjoying the Secret Garden and the work we put into it.
What do you have in your garden? A wide variety of strategically placed hostas and astilbe punctuate the eight separate gardens, unifying the landscape from the east-end Fernery to the west-end Romanesque Garden and the Marshlands. Arborvitae and potted petunias grace the corner Romanesque garden, which has several chairs tucked away for reading or contemplative moments. Stands of swaying grasses add motion to the Marshlands. The expansive River Flats is home to azaleas, hydrangea, yarrow, rose of sharon, euonymus, grasses and and elegant weeping cherry. A river of stone travels the length and is graded to direct rainwater to a drain. The Green Garden is populated with rhododendron, liriope, arborvitae and mondo grass. Features include two bronze statues of Madagascar cranes that occasionally catch the light and trick the viewer into thinking they might be about to wander off to the nearby English Rose Garden, a closely planted explosion of color with red roses, Japanese andromeda and bee balm. A planter brimming with red annuals sits at the top of the Tibetan Steps. This feature is flanked by pediments from Bellevue, and has treads of pebbles on the lower steps and leads up to a level of lush, velvety moss. The Asian Royal Garden is alive with color from hostas, potted petunias. impatiens and astilbe.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Fortunately there have been no pests, with only two exceptions: a mid-July storm that took down a revered white birch at the west end of the garden; and occasionally a stray cigarette butt finds its way over the fence–hopefully not off a 1401 balcony.

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Pots to Pollinators by “Pots to Pollinators”

Garden description: I garden a typical 1/4 acre suburban development lot where I have lived for over 30 years. I have a vegetable garden, flower beds, a lot of potted flowers, and a new pollinator garden in the curbside lawn “hell strip” between the street and the sidewalk.
Who are the gardeners: I am the gardener for the property as my 84 year old mother lives with me and is unable to do anything outside. My interest in gardening began as a child in my mother’s vegetable garden. Besides my home garden for several years (not this year) I had a big garden in a community garden in Glasgow and several years ago at a local church garden. I can and freeze a lot of my produce by making my own marinara sauce for pasta and hot sauce for chili. I make pickles and relish and freeze peas, corn, black-eye peas, etc. I work for the local soil and water conservation district office.
Why do you garden: Gardening for me is a time to relax, be outside and enjoy growing plants. I actually enjoy weeding on occasion!
How has gardening impacted you during this time: I had more time to spend in my home garden since I did not plant in the community garden this year. I am using the extra time to develop and plant my pollinator beds. A second bed is going in this month.
What do you have in your garden? I have a lot of phlox, mountain mint, toad lily, daylilies, coneflower, rudbeckia, and various native plants (milkweed, joe pye weed, new York ironweed, vervain, etc. I plant a lot of pots using summer annuals for color and variety like petunias, begonias, etc.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? I garden organically so if I have pest issues I use BT or soap sprays or pick off the bugs. This year has not been too bad. I live with slug damage.

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Whimsical/Colorful/Small City Garden by “Linda Collier”

Garden description: Fun, happy colorful place that the dogs, the children, and I can relax and have fun. When Bille’ (Billecart) was a puppy and started eating the tops off all flowers I started adding statues, pinwheels, rocks I painted and other things so it would always look pretty and fun. My grandchildren refer to it as the magical mystical garden because everywhere they look they find a different animal or flower. They think they are in another land as they enjoy it since it is not like any of their homes.
Who are the gardeners: Just me. Linda. When I lived in Holland, I realized the Dutch knew how to make their tiny gardens wonderful relaxing beautiful places to be. I figure with a small space, I wanted to do the same thing. Then in Sante Fe, discovered the pinwheels and rock gardens so added that feature to my space as well.
Why do you garden: I find it relaxing and creative and is very different from my sixty plus hours a week in my wine shop.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: Luckily my business was considered essential so continued to work. Again, it is wonderful to spend time in my garden whenever I am home as it is a relaxing and peaceful place to be. My bird feeder attracts lots of birds (and squirrels) so have a constant melody going. Wonderful space for the dogs and for entertaining as the other end of my back garden has the grill and table and outside lights.
What do you have in your garden? My garden is all flowers, plants and statues – vegetables and herbs would not have a chance of surviving the two dogs. Have used wine barrels to get some of the plants up off the ground for protection and to give levels and heights.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? No. Just my two dogs – Billecart and Jacquessonsonson

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Hedgerow for the Birds and Bugs by “Judy”

Garden description: In 2019 I decided to replace a boring section of backyard lawn with a hedgerow consisting of mostly native plants that provide resources to support bees, butterflies, and birds throughout the year. The result has been gratifying! Something is blooming in the hedgerow now for the entire season, April through October, attracting multitudes of interesting insects and other creatures. In the fall, lovely berries support migrating birds, while standing perennial stalks help overwintering species. The garden is also designed to be quite symmetric, giving it a certain formality despite profuse growth.
Who are the gardeners: Just me! I am a retired University of Delaware entomology professor, and have always delighted in the natural world.
Why do you garden: My professional interest was insect-plant interactions, and I continue to be fascinated by the huge variety of plants and animals, large and small, that occur even in a relatively developed suburban area. I try to foster their populations by maintaining as much diversity of native plantings as possible in our yard.
How has gardening impacted you during this time: Even though we can’t travel, each day there is something new to see in the garden. I am more appreciative than ever of the wonders of the natural world.
What do you have in your garden? Native shrubs in back are viburnums, winterberry, red-twig dogwood, summersweet clethra, buttonbush, and fothergilla. Tall perennials in the center include purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye weed, agastache, blazing star, and feather reed grass. Shorter perennials in front are moss phlox, blue star amsonia, and aromatic aster.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? No insect or disease problems so far. The first year I had to pull out thousands of maple seedlings. This year only hundreds, so as the hedgerow fills in the danger of it becoming a maple grove continues to decline!

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Little Italy Lovelies by “T”

Garden description: A tiny tropical oasis in the city.
Who are the gardeners: Me.
Why do you garden: Flowers make me happy! And I like a challenge!
How has gardening impacted you during this time: It’s a great escape.
What do you have in your garden? I have hardy banana under-planted with caladiums, hardy hibiscus, a rose of sharon pruned into a tree (a work in progress!), a lemon tree, several varieties of clematis and loads of annuals- hibiscus, wave petunia, portulaca, mandevilla, sweet potato vine, lantana, verbena, calibrachoa and papyrus.
Do you have any problems with disease or pests? If so, how are you dealing with this problem? Not typically.

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