Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 1, Page 8
Fall 1993
On Campus
The University of Delaware Botanic Garden

...Invigorated by a new name, a friends group and a gazebo with brochures
about the various specimens, the gardens are attracting more and more

     Nestled near the busy traffic on Route 896 in Newark, Del., is a
burgeoning garden complex known as the University of Delaware Botanic
     This garden plays multiple roles for University students and faculty,
horticulture professionals and the planting public, and, invigorated by a
new name, a friends group and a gazebo with brochures about the various
specimens, the garden is attracting more and more admirers.
     The original garden in front of Townsend Hall was established with a
donation from Emily Clark Diffenback in the mid-1960s. The Clark Garden,
which contains the oldest specimens in the garden complex, has been an
invaluable aid in teaching numerous courses-from woody and herbaceous
plants to garden design and construction. The hollies in this garden are
designated as a test arboretum by the American Holly Society.
     The college recognized a need to name the complex as plantings
increased around the buildings: a Magnolia Society test garden south of
Townsend Hall; native and non-native plants to the north of Worrilow Hall;
a wildflower area in front of the Fischer Greenhouse Laboratory; a
herbaceous perennial garden behind another greenhouse; and stretches of
native trees and shrubs lining the front driveway and rear turf area.
     "We chose the name carefully to reflect the garden's multiple roles,"
says John Frett, professor of ornamental horticulture and coordinator of
the Botanic Garden. "More than a collection of pretty plants, the garden
has as its first purpose playing an educational role for our classes. In
the courses I teach, this is my laboratory. Students can't learn without
seeing plants."
     In the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the garden is used in
botanical, production and management courses as well as in landscape
maintenance. The garden serves other departments, too. Agricultural
engineering classes use it for surveying, and entomology classes for
collecting insect samples.
     The horticulture and nursery industries also have much to gain from
the garden. Cuttings from uncommon tree and shrub cultivars are shared with
researchers and commercial propagators with the idea of expanding the
diversity of plants in the region.
     "The garden shows the community what is well-adapted to the Delaware
landscape and serves as a showcase for new cultivars," says Susan Barton,
Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist. "We hope that commercial
landscape designers will bring their clients here to see mature specimens
in an actual landscape."
     Eventually, an example of every specimen in the garden will be labeled
with botanical and common names. Labels will also indicate whether a
specimen is native or non-native and the commercial source of plant
material to help the gardening public decide on plants to use in their own
landscape designs.
     Master Gardeners are active in leading tours and helping with the
maintenance of the garden. Jim Swasey, head of the Longwood graduate
program in public horticulture, says a goal is to have five paid student
interns to help with maintenance, labeling and curatorial work.
     Friends of the Botanic Garden will receive a quarterly newsletter and
yearly cuttings of rare and unusual plant species. They also will have an
opportunity to take part in special tours of private gardens and attend
lectures and garden events. For more information and a brochure, write to
BG Friends, Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Townsend Hall,
University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303.
                                               -Claire McCabe, Delaware '85M