New Jersey Public Gardens Offer
Visitors Relaxing Refuge
Today is National Public Gardens Day and what better way to celebrate than to visit one of the many beautiful public gardens in New Jersey? Many of these gardens are hosting special events in celebration of National Public Gardens Day today and throughout the weekend. Can’t make it this weekend? No worries – these New Jersey gardens offer breathtaking views throughout the year, so be sure to check them out! Read on to learn more about these fantastic public gardens in NJ…
Public Gardens in North Jersey
Skylands – The New Jersey Botanical Garden
Located within Ringwood State Forest, Skylands -The New Jersey Botanical Garden includes 96 acres of specialty gardens surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands. The gardens are divided into thirteen specialty gardens including the Annual Garden, the Perennial Border, Crab Apple Allée, the Hosta/Rhododendron Garden, the Moraine Garden (an enchanting sort of alpine rock garden), the Wildflower Garden, the Lilac Garden, the Peony Garden, the Summer Garden, the Azalea Garden, Magnolia Walk, the Octagonal Garden (dwarf plants showcasing Skyland Octagonal Pool and fountain), and the Winter Garden (a beautiful collection of trees and shrubs designed to stimulate the senses during the winter months). From delicate wildflowers to the spectacular colors of the Summer Garden, Skylands is a beautiful destination in any season. Miles of well-marked trails meander through elegant formal gardens and wind through enchanting woodlands. The New Jersey Botanical Garden offers special programs and events such as Skyland Manor tours, nature talks and hikes, festivals, family programs, and more. Skylands – The New Jersey Botanical Garden is located within Ringwood State Forest at 2 Morris Road, in Ringwood, New Jersey. Admission to the gardens are always free. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
The Reeves-Reed Arboretum
Named for the property’s previous owners, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum features 5 ½ acres of formal gardens representing gardening trends of the early 20th century. Highlights of a visit to this New Jersey botanical garden include the Keller Azalea Garden, the Reeves-Reed Rock Garden, and the Rose Garden, which features nearly 300 rose bushes, including samples of the annual All American Rose Society (AARS) winners. Beyond the formal gardens are woodland and wetland natural areas, which feature native trees and plants. There are benches throughout most of the gardens where visitors can sit, relax, and enjoy the scenery. The Wesson Family Nature Grove provides a picturesque setting for programs for children and families throughout the year. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located at 165 Hobart Avenue in Summit NJ. Admission is free (suggested donation of $5 for non-members). For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
The beautiful 127-acre Frelinghuysen Arboretum offers visitors a peaceful place to relax as well as to learn more about plants that are well-suited to the gardens of northern New Jersey. Centered around a splendid Colonial Revival mansion, the beautiful formal gardens, woodlands, and meadows provide a stunning setting in which to spend a day outdoors. With a wide variety of plantings, there is something to see at virtually any time of the year at this New Jersey botanical garden. In addition to the formal gardens and majestic woodlands, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum features the Great Lawn (the site of many outdoor concerts), nature and horse trails, a Braille Nature Trail designed for hands-on exploration by visually impaired visitors. The Frelinghuysen Arboretum offers special events and programs for all ages, including horticultural classes, book clubs, art exhibits, concerts, and special family events such as photo scavenger hunts and “Fairy Day”. The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is located at 353 East Hanover Avenue in Morris Township NJ. Admission is free and the arboretum is open from 8am to dusk daily. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Greenwood Gardens is a 28-acre public garden featuring 27 garden areas which overlook a large preserve of forest and meadows. Formerly the estate of real estate auctioneer Joseph P. Day, it became a nonprofit conservation center in 2003 and has been newly restored with native plantings as well as exotic species such as Japanese flowering almonds and yellow-flowered Japanese lilac. Visitors are invited to follow the moss-covered footpaths through Italianate garden terraces, grottoes, and allées of sycamore and spruce trees. Greenwood Gardens is located at 274 Old Short Hills Road in Short Hills NJ. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors (65+) and students with ID, and free for garden members and children under 12. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at the garden, click HERE.
Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
Presby Memorial Iris Gardens features nearly 14,000 irises in about 3,000 varieties that produce over 100,000 blooms beginning in mid-May. Don’t procrastinate though – the display only lasts for few weeks! By early June, the show is over! (The expected dates for this year’s season are May 10 through June 5.) Founded in 1927 in honor of local horticulturalist and American Iris Society founder Frank H. Presby, this New Jersey public garden is the largest garden featuring irises in the nation and – thanks to the arching slopes of the garden beds – is often referred to as the “rainbow on the hill”. Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is located at 474 Upper Mountain Avenue in Montclair NJ. Admission is free, however the garden depends entirely on donations to fund its operation so please consider supporting them when you visit (Suggested donation: $5/person). For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Essex County Rose Garden
The Essex County Rose Garden at Brookdale Park features 15,000 square feet of gardens divided into 29 distinct beds of hybrid tea, shrub, floribunda, hybrid musk, rugosas, polyanthas, and antique roses. The garden includes 1,500 bushes of almost 100 varieties. Roses are selected for their disease resistance, color, fragrance and blooms throughout the growing season. It is a spectacular sight to see throughout the blooming season. Admission is free. The Essex County Rose Garden is located in the Montclair section of Brookdale Park (access from Grove Street to Circuit Drive) in Montclair NJ. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Public Gardens in Central NJ
The Leonard J. Buck Garden
The Leonard J. Buck Garden is one of the most outstanding rock gardens in the eastern United States. The 33-acre garden consists of a breathtaking series of woodland and alpine gardens situated in a wooded stream valley. This garden was created by Mr. Leonard J. Buck as part of his estate and was donated to the Somerset County Park Commission by Mrs. Helen Buck in 1976. This delightful New Jersey garden features an extensive variety of plants. From rare and exotic rock garden plants, to beautiful wildflowers, to delicate ferns, to colorful woodland azaleas and rhododendrons, there is something interesting in bloom throughout most of the year in the garden. The Leonard J. Buck Garden is located at 11 Layton Road in Far Hills NJ. Admission is free. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Willowwood Arboretum is a beautiful New Jersey public garden at any time of the year. Once a private residence, the 130 acres were purchased by brothers Henry and Robert Tubbs in 1908. The brothers, enthusaistic gardeners who lived and worked in New York City, worked diligently to transform the property into the magnificent garden displays seen at Willowwood today. Willowwood Arboretum is home to a whopping 2,100 native and exotic plants. In fact, you’ll find 65 different varieties of magnolias alone! The grounds are divided into 14 distinct areas including Bee Meadow, Conservatory, Cottage Garden, Cypress Pool, Hacklebarney Field, Hillside Pasture, Lilac Collection, Long Meadow, Monarda Meadow, Orchard, Pan’s Garden, Winter Garden, Woodwalk, and the Rockery, Chive Walk and Rosarie. Willowwood Arboretum is located at 300 Longview Road (14 Longview for GPS) in Far Hills NJ. Admission is free. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Morven Museum and Garden
Morven was formerly the home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It also served as the New Jersey governor’s mansion. In 2004, it became a museum dedicated to the cultural history of New Jersey. Morven’s stunning five acres of gardens draw thousands of visitors to the grounds each year. The garden is awash with spectacular displays of color throughout the growing season; blooming begins in April with daffodils and tulips, followed by irises and peonies in May. The fabulous display of color continues into the summer with phlox, zinnias, and other summer annuals. There is also a robust kitchen garden which produces hundreds of pounds of food every year for local food banks. Morven Museum and Garden is located at 55 Stockton Street in Princeton NJ. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (60+), students, and active military personnel, and free for children 6 and under and Friends of Morven. Guided one-hour tours of the garden are available for $6. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Cross Estate Gardens
The Cross Estate Gardens is a project of the New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation in cooperation with the National Park Service and is located on the Cross Estate in Morristown National Historical Park. The Gardens feature formal and native gardens, a beautiful wisteria-covered pergola, and a mountain laurel allee. Admission is free. The Cross Estate Gardens are located at 61 Jockey Hollow Road in Bernardsville NJ. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Deep Cut Gardens
Deep Cut Gardens features 54 acres of gardens and greenhouses that are intended to be a living catalog of cultivated and native plant materials for home gardeners. A highlight of Deep Cut is the recently renovated Parterre featuring 52 varieties of roses with over 180 bushes. Visitors are encouraged to discover new ways to improve their home garden by taking a walking tour of the park and asking the staff horticultural questions. Garden programs and classes are also offered. Families are welcome and can explore the garden with Deep Cut’s Garden Safari Backpack (available at the Horticultural Center on a first-come, first-serve basis). Each backpack contains everything families need to discover new ways of seeing living and non-living features of the gardens. Admission to Deep Cut Gardens is free. The garden is located at 152 Red Hill Road in Middletown NJ. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
In its own words, Rutgers Gardens is “a public garden dedicated to cultivating inquisitive minds, great plants, and inspired gardening through educational exploration and enjoyment”. The Gardens feature 19 distinct areas including the Bamboo Forest, the Pond at Holly House, the All American Selections Garden, the Community Youth Garden, Donald B. Lacey Display Garden, Ella Quimby Water Conservation Terrace Garden, Frank G. Helyar Woods, the Holly Collection, the Ornamental Tree Collection, the Herb Garden, the Pollinator Garden, the Rain Garden, the Rhododendron and Azalea Garden, the Shade Tree Collection, the Shrub Garden, the Volunteer Supported Agriculture (VSA) Garden, the Edwin J. and Ida M. Otken Memorial Garden, the Art Rudolph Sun and Shade Garden, and the Roy H. DeBoer Evergreen Garden. Admission is free. Guided tours are available (fee). Rutgers Garden is located at 130 Log Cabin Road in New Brunswick NJ. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at this New Jersey public garden, click HERE.
Sayen Gardens is the former home and gardens of Frederick Sayen, an avid gardener and world traveler. In 1912, Sayen purchased a 30 acre parcel of land in Hamilton Square NJ where he built a bungalow style home and surrounded it with plants and flowers that he acquired while traveling the world. His collection includes species from China, Japan and England, many of which can still be seen thriving in the gardens today. The gardens feature more than 1,000 azaleas and nearly 500 rhododendrons, 250,000 flowering bulbs, beautiful dogwood trees, and spectacular annual and perennial displays that create an amazing display of color throughout the year. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at the garden, click HERE.
Public Gardens in South Jersey
Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve
Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve is a unique public garden set within the adult community of Medford Leas in Burlington County. The garden pathways meander among its many private residences. This public garden is a 168-acre preserve featuring courtyard gardens, natural woodlands with over 1,300 trees representing about 200 different species, landscaped meadows, and wetlands. Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve is located at One Medford Way at Medford Leas in Medford NJ. Admission is free but visitors are asked to sign in at the Medford Leas Campus Community Building, where self-guided tour maps and pamphlets are available. For more information, including operating hours and things to do at the garden, click HERE.
Do you know of other public gardens in New Jersey that should be featured here? Contact us and let us know about it!
Featured Photo Credit: Daderot via Wikimedia Commons