David Benner grew up in Ardmore, and attended Lower Merion High School.He eventually went on to study Horticulture at Penn State University, and soon after graduation became the Resident Botanist for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve at Washington Crossing State Park. He worked here for ten years before becoming a professor of ornamental Horticulture at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. Mr. Benner taught at DVC for 22 years, retiring in 1989.
Through the years he has become a sought-after lecturer who has spoken to various horticultural societies, arboretums and garden clubs up and down the east coast. Since retirement he has also been providing consultations for homeowners interested in naturalistic landscaping and shade gardening. He is also currently the botanical Consultant for Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
The Benner property has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers and books. Pictures of the unique moss lawns and native wildflowers have graced the pages of such publications as Architectural Digest, Country Gardens, American Nurseryman, Taylor’s guide to Natural Gardening, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Booklet “The Natural Lawn”, House and Garden Magazine and most recently New York Times.
In 1962, David Benner was a pioneer in developing moss lawns to replace grass in shady areas. About 10 years later, after trying many deer repellents and other measures for deer control, he discovered a virtually invisible plastic deer fencing. This excellent fencing for deer control has become very popular due to its promotion and availability through Benner’s Gardens Inc., founded in 1912 by Mr. Benner and his son Alan. The moss lawn concept can now become a reality by purchasing various mosses through Moss Acres. Alan Benner founded this company in the spring of 2002.
Mr. Benner strongly supports an ecological and environmental approach to landscaping, and is actively involved with environmental organizations, including: Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Trust for Public Lands, Alaska Conservation foundation, Delaware Riverkeeper, Greenpeace, national Audubon Society, National Resource defense council, and The Nature Conservancy. His knowledge of environmentally friendly gardening techniques, and years of dealing with deer-related problems, has significantly helped to make Benner’s Garden a successful business enterprise.
"GARDENING IN THE SHADE"
This Lecture is illustrated with slides showing how to work with the environment and the importance of using native plants. Alternatives to grass lawns and the best methods to control deer damage and other wildlife problems will be discussed. Learn many ways to create a natural landscape with practically no maintenance. Imagine a shade garden with moss lawns and no grass for forty years! Than add established beds of ground-covers, wildflowers, shrubs, ferns,vines, trees and spring bulbs, all blooming in May.
This program has been presented to many garden clubs, arboretums, botanical gardens and other groups over the past twenty years. The talk lasts about an hour and the fee is $500.00 plus traveling expenses. Recent speaking engagements include Longwood Gardens, Callaway Gardens ,New England Wildflower Society, Royal Botanic Gardens in Hamilton, Canada, Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, Winthrop Rockefeller Center in Arkansas and Green spring Gardens in Alexandra, Virgina. Lectures are scheduled from September through April.