Friday, February 23, 2018

New Jersey State Botanical Gardens

The New Jersey State Botanical Gardens, located in Ringwood, New Jersey, are part of Ringwood State Park. The history of the place is fascinating.

The property once belonged to Francis Lynde Stetson (1846-1920), a prominent New York lawyer. He built a country estate called, "Skyland Farms." This included a mansion with 30 outbuildings, gardens, and a lawn that served as a 9-hole golf course.  Stetson entertained such prominent people as Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and JP Morgan.

In 1922, Skylands was sold to Clarence McKenzie Lewis (1877-1959) who set out to make it a botanical showcase. The original Stetson home was torn down and the current Tudor mansion was built.

In 1966, the state of New Jersey purchased it, and in 1984, the governor designated the central 96 acres surrounding the house as the state's official botanical garden.

Today, there are several specialty  gardens visitors can view. These include the Annual, Perennial Border, Crab Apple Allee, Wildflower, Lilac, Peony, Summer Garden, Magnolia Walk, Winter Garden, and the Moraine Garden pictured above which contains deposits of rock left behind by retreating glaciers.

The gardens are open daily from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Admission is free, although on summer Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, there is a parking fee:  $5.00 for cars from New Jersey, $7.00 for those from out-of-state.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Orchid Range at Duke Farms

Duke Farms, located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, is a 2,470-acre estate that was established in 1893 by James Buchanan Duke, the founder of Duke Power and the American Tobacco Company.

The Orchid Range is a glass house that displays more than 1400 different kinds of orchids. It dates back to the 1930s and 40s when the Duke family cultivated the flowers. Today, there can be as many as 5500 orchids in the range.

Most of the Duke Farm property is hidden from the public. When James' daughter, Doris, died in 1992, she requested that the property be used to protect endangered species of flora and fauna. Visitors can still explore 20 miles of trails spread out over 1,000 acres. There are many waterfalls, lakes, and rolling hills to enjoy.

The Orchid Range is open from 8:30-4:30 every day except Wednesday. Admission is free. 

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway of the Kindle version of my book, Don't Feed the Elephant. It's open to US residents only. If you'd like to enter to win one of 20 copies, go here.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum

Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum is on the campus of Georgian Court University in Lakewood Township, New Jersey. Originally, it was the landscaped park for the winter home of George Jay Gould, son of railroad tycoon, Jay Gould.

In 1896 architect, Bruce Price, was hired to create a replica of an English estate from the Georgian period. Since the New Jersey soil isn't great for planting native English plants, 5,000 cartloads of soil were brought in. Four major gardens were created:  the Italian Garden, Sunken Garden, Formal Garden, and Japanese Garden.

In 1924, the Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate and it became the campus of what is currently Georgian Court University.  An additional Wellness Garden was added by students in 2008. The place is a National Historic Landmark.

The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.