Frelinghuysen Arboretum

On our way back from Peony’s Envy (see previous post), we stopped to stretch our legs at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris, New Jersey. Dedicated in 1971, the arboretum was a gift from Matilda Frelinghuysen and consists of 127 mixed acres of woodlands, meadows, gardens, and (of course) trees. There is also a Colonial Revival style summer home, used by the late Frelinghuysens three months of the year, but the house was closed to visitors at the time of our visit.

Strawberries ripening in a barrel in the Lawrence Barkman Vegetable Garden
In the Lawrence Barkman Vegetable Garden

The Frelinghuysen Arboretum can be divided into three sections. The first sections is the home demonstration gardens area encircling the Haggerty Education Center. There you will find a perennial garden, rock garden, blue garden, cottage garden, special needs garden, and so much more. I spent an hour in this section alone.

Enkianthus with its bell-shaped flowers
Enkianthus with its bell-shaped flowers

The second section is the mansion garden area which includes the great lawn, heritage rose garden, knot garden, several fountains, an arbor, and more. According to the cell phone tour, the rose gardens beds are laid out between the spokes of a brick walk that resemble the Union Jack. In the center beds are Knock Out Roses with hybrid tea and ground cover roses around the edge of the garden.

blooms in the rose garden
In the rose garden
Carding Mill English Roses in bloom
Carding Mill English roses in the rose garden

The third section is what I thought of as the arboretum proper — the trees, paths, and meadow that comprise the majority of the grounds. While we didn’t spend much time in this section, I would like to return next spring to see the crabapples and flowering cherries in bloom.

Mountain Laurel in bloom
Blooms in the mountain laurel allee

Although we only spent a scant two hours at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, we enjoyed every minute and would recommend it as a peaceful way to spend an afternoon in North Jersey.

Peony’s Envy

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting the display garden at Peony’s Envy in Bernardsville, New Jersey. A national distributor of peonies, Peony’s Envy opens its property for garden visits during the blooming season. Located behind a white colonial on a shady cul-de-sac, visiting feels a lot like stepping into a secret garden. A paradise of peonies waiting for you to explore.

peony in bloom at peony's envy

The gardens are extensive, laid out over seven acres with mostly accessible paths, and every available bit of ground is planted with lush, voluptuous peonies. At the time of my visit, the herbaceous peonies were in peak bloom with a few intersectional peonies still putting on a good show.

Visiting during the middle of the week was a smart choice as, while there were plenty of people around, the garden felt tranquil and welcoming.

Walnut Hill Rose Garden

I had a few errands yesterday that took me past New Britain and, even though it was raining, I felt I needed to stop and smell the roses at the Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden.

roses blooming in the rain

The rose garden is relatively new, being a replacement for the 1929 rose garden which was demolished at some point in the late twentieth century after years of neglect. The new rose garden was planted in 2010 by the Friends of Walnut Hill Park Rose Garden and consists of eight hundred rose bushes representing seventy-five different varieties of type, color, and fragrance. At peak bloom, the garden is a carefully controlled riot of color and scent.

The 1929 rose garden had been planted by James Burke, the city’s gardener, on the eastern slope of Walnut Hill Park, along Grand Street. The current garden makes use of established flower beds near the World War I memorial and admirably suits the site. This location also allows the garden to be accessible to strollers, wheelchairs, and walkers, creating a space that is truly open to everyone.

The park itself was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a Connecticut-born landscape architect who designed many parks around the country, including Central Park in New York. In Connecticut, he had many private and residential commissions, as well as several major parks:

Beardsley Park (Bridgeport)
Institute of Living, grounds (Hartford)
Keney Park (Hartford)
Seaside Park (Bridgeport)
Walnut Hill Park (New Britain)