Delaware nature-lovers share their favorite places to enjoy summer in the state
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. -- John Lubbock
9:33 a.m., June 26, 2012--Officially, June 20 was the first day of summer, even though the unofficial signs of the season -- flip flops, hammocks, water ice -- blossomed weeks ago. For most of us, the workaday routine means we’re stuck inside a lot more than we’d like. When the weekend rolls around, we’re itching to get outside.
So where should we spend our precious free hours? We asked area birders, entomologists, horticulturalists and other nature-lovers about their favorite places to enjoy summer in Delaware.
Here’s what they told us:
Nature with a side of history
My favorite spot is Brandywine Springs Park, which was an amusement park in the early 20th century and is now a county natural area. I enjoy the sound of the water rushing through Hyde Run, a tributary of the Red Clay Creek, as I take long walks among the old trees. Since I am a history buff and a member of Friends of Brandywine Springs, I especially like the historical aspect of walking the old boardwalk area. Spending a few hours taking in the sights and sounds there refreshes me.
Eileen Boyle, horticulturalist, Hagley Museum
I enjoy Millstone Pond in White Clay Creek State Park. There is a small rock outcrop overlooking the pond and a nice place to sit in the shade on a sultry summer afternoon contemplating of the world around -- dragonflies coursing over the pond, birds in the trees, wild flowers blooming. Just outside Delaware in Caroline County, Md., is Idylwild Wildlife Management Area. When I want to see many rare dragonflies and damselflies native to the Delmarva Peninsula that is where I go. However, one may need to suffer to be rewarded. One needs to bring water, be willing to hike a ways, and carry insect repellant.
Hal White, University of Delaware professor and author of "Natural History of Delmarva: Dragonflies and Damselflies"
A riot of blooms
In summer, I love the rainbow of blooms in the Color Trial Garden at UD’s Botanic Gardens. Mid- to late July, it’s probably at its peak. Commercial seed companies rely on trial gardens such as this one to provide unbiased feedback about new varieties. For the public, the garden provides a sneak peek at more than a hundred yet-to-be-introduced varieties of annuals and perennials. It’s not uncommon to see people wandering through the trial garden with pencil and paper in hand to write down their favorites.
Valann Budischak, volunteer and education coordinator, UD Botanic Gardens
I run a lot at White Clay Creek State Park but recently I also have been working out at Lums Pond. Especially in the summer, it is really nice to run (or walk) near a body of water. Even if you aren’t in the water, the sight and sound of water is cooling. As to plants I enjoy now, Delaware is mostly green at this point. Ferns are probably the prettiest vegetation in the summer.
Sue Barton, triathlete and UD Cooperative Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture
Sunset on the water
I like canoeing up the headwaters of Haven Lake, outside of Milford, from a public boat ramp off Williamsville Road. It features narrow channels and small islands and teems with birds, beavers, dragonflies and damselflies. You can even see insectivorous sundew and pitcher plants. Sunset is my favorite time to be on the water.
Jason Beale, manager, Abbott’s Mill Nature Center in Milford
A park that’s got it all
I like to go to Bellevue State Park because as a family it meets all our needs. Bellevue has gardens, nature trails, meadows, a pond, playgrounds, horses, community vegetable garden plots and more. My daughter, Teagan, is almost 3 years old and she likes the diversity of so many different things to look at. She is just fascinated by the horses. I jog on the trails and I also like to check out the garden plots. Many Master Gardeners have plots at Bellevue and I love to see what people are growing and how they are growing it.
Carrie Murphy, horticulture agent for New Castle County Cooperative Extension
Biking the by-ways
I moved to Delaware in January so I still consider myself new to the state. I enjoyed Cape Henlopen many times before I moved here and now I’m making new discoveries. On summer weekend mornings, I have found that the scenic by-ways following the Red Clay and Brandywine creeks are surprisingly quiet and great for road biking. Traveling by bike, you see so much more of the creeks, historic homes, fields and forests than when traveling by car.
Brian Winslow, executive director, Delaware Nature Society
Woodpecker and eagle hang-out
My favorite place at Hagley is the area that extends from the steam engine display to the boat house. The view of the iron bridge, the Brandywine, the dam and the woods is spectacular. You may even see an eagle flying over the river or our pair of pileated woodpeckers feeding in the large maple next to the boat house.
Richard Pratt, supervisor of gardens and grounds, Hagley Museum
Article by Margo McDonough
Photo by Danielle Quigley