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Pop-Up Event: Tour of Ethel and David’s Garden in Greenville, DE
Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EDT
Category: Pop-Up Events

A Visit to Ethel and David’s Naturalistic Brandywine Valley Garden
in Greenville, DE

Join us for an opportunity to stroll through a stunning naturalistic garden in the beautiful Brandywine Valley! Read on for the history and description of this 14-acre garden provided by owners Ethel and David. You will be putting this on your list of must-see gardens this spring.

When we moved to our present home, we had no idea we’d be undertaking a 28-year landscaping project. What started as a plan to add a few azaleas and rhododendrons plus a small number of ornamental trees to a 14-acre wilderness property has morphed into an avocation that also serves as an exercise program. After 28 years, it is surprisingly easy to end up with the 1000+ azaleas, 200+ rhododendrons, and 50+ ornamental trees that we now have.

The main gardens are spread out over 6 to 7 sloped acres inside a deer fence. At the start, there were patches of woods with mature trees in tangles of dense underbrush and some samples remain. There were also sloping meadows choked with invasives. We slowly cleared and planted sections near the house while we both worked full time and raised our family.

The shade garden in front of the house was our first effort. It includes azaleas, rhododendrons, and a wide variety of shade perennials. After we installed the deer fence and cattle guard it was feasible to plant many more azaleas and rhododendrons. Evergreen azaleas which dominate the slope above the house are arranged to give a color-coordinated succession of bloom from early April to June, and again from August to frost. Just below the east end of the house are native azaleas which further expand the season of bloom from spring through late summer. Mature dogwood blossoms add light to the intensely colored azaleas in mid-spring. In early May, another highlight near the house is the collection of tree peonies and Itoh peonies; most are just above the driveway, with additional specimens found throughout the garden.

Further from the house, as the drive descends from the top of the hill, are several beds mixing perennials, flowering shrubs and vines in both sun and shade. A line of rhododendrons borders the railroad tracks and continues along the curve of the drive as it drops to the entry at the cattle guard. The valley that slopes up from this low point is framed on the far side by a hillside planted in azaleas and rhododendrons. At the base of the hill across the valley is a bed of native azaleas. This hillside below the house has not been cleared. The head of the valley is capped by a mass of azaleas.

Small flowering trees are planted throughout the garden. In addition to native and Kousa dogwoods, hybrid dogwoods extend the season of bloom. Crabapples, silver bells, yellowwood, red buckeye, and multiple magnolia species show off native flowers. Seven Franklinias and four hybrid Gordlinias bloom throughout August.

The style of the garden is relaxed and naturalistic. The many native plants co-exist with rare plants from around the world. The beauty of the setting on a hill above the Brandywine dominates the garden. Needless to say, there are abundant visual treats throughout the garden.

Ethel and David look forward to your visit and hope you enjoy your time in the garden!

Please Note:  This property and gardens are hilly and there are no groomed paths. Please come able and prepared to walk on uneven, and possibly slippery paths. Wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes.

This is a member’s only event, but registration is required. $5 per attendee. Maximum number of guests is 50.

 Click here to register for this event. Registration closes May 6. Rain date is Thursday May 9th.  Click here if you would like to become a member of HPS/MAG before registering for this event.

Address and parking directions will be sent to all registrants in their confirmation email.

Contact: Dawn Freeman at [email protected]