New Jersey Gardens to Visit ASAP This Spring and Summer

New Jersey is called the Garden State for good reason. As the weather begins to improve and spring arrives in the region, there are many ways to get out and enjoy all that this season has to offer. Blooming tulips, flowering trees and carpets of daffodils are just a few of the highlights of our state’s gardens. Learn about some of our region’s best parks and how to make New Jersey truly feel like a garden.

Greenwood Gardens | 274 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills

Tucked away on a quiet street in Short Hills is the exceptional Greenwood Gardens, a remnant of a former estate with the acreage to prove it. The serenity of this garden is twofold, as much by its general solitude and the absence of visitors as by its division into several garden rooms. Admire the awe-inspiring landscapes of London plane trees, whimsical chess pieces nestled in ferns, and stroll along the garden’s many well-maintained paths.

Van Vleck Gardens | 21 rue Van Vleck, Montclair

van vleck montclair gardens

At the center of Montclair is the former Van Vleck Estate, a classic structure now generously home to non-profit organizations and events. The grounds are open to the public daily and are home to incredible azaleas, lush vegetation, and the most spectacular wisteria blooms in the entire state. It is the perfect garden for a picnic and a leisurely stroll, where one can simply admire what nature has to offer.

The Iris Gardens of Presby | 474 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair

presby iris montclair gardens

(Photo credit: @presbyirisgardens)

The iris gardens may not be much to see out of season, but your eyes will enjoy a feast of color from mid-May to early June. Presby Iris Gardens is the largest specialist iris garden in the world, with rare specimens and unique breeds found only here. Check the website for bloom updates so you can plan a visit during “peak bloom” and see why the flowers are named after the Greek word for rainbow.

New Jersey Botanical Garden | 2 Morris Road, Ringwood

New Jersey is not famous enough to have its own botanical gardens, perhaps because it is located in the north, in the heights of the state. The gardens and mansion have an incredible number of volunteers who keep the place as magical as ever. The beautiful displays in the perennial garden feature trees and shrubs, but there’s plenty more to see. There is a lilac garden, as well as an Italian garden, a wildflower garden and an annual garden – so a visit anytime this spring will produce some wonderful blooms.

Brookdale Park Rose Garden | Brookdale Park, Montclair

brookdale park rose garden

(Photo credit: @essexparks)

A short walk from most homes in Montclair is the Brookdale Park Rose Garden, an often overlooked area of ​​our beloved Essex Park. Don’t be fooled by its size, the rose garden here is exceptional. More than 500 healthy, full rose bushes are ripe for photography, while several nearby benches provide a view of the blossoms and puffs of pleasant fragrance.

Rutgers Gardens | 112 Log Cabin Road, North Brunswick Township

Rutgers Gardens

(Photo credit: @rutgersgardens)

Open year-round, Rutgers Gardens is one of the few botanic parks with free admission. The American holly collection is one of the largest in the United States, but that’s just the tip of the flora iceberg. There are as many unique gardens as any other state-run botanical garden, with sun and shade plants, a bamboo grove, a succulent garden, and around 60 acres of woods to wander around.

Read more: Spring getaways outdoors in Essex County

Laurelwood Arboretum | 725 Pines Lake Drive West, Wayne

laurelwood arboretum wayne

(Photo credit: @friendsoflaurelwoodarboretum)

This public park located in Wayne is a favorite spot for locals. It used to be a commercial nursery, but is now maintained by a non-profit organization called Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum and the Township of Wayne. The garden is “30 acres of botanical oasis”, specializing in native rhododendrons and azaleas, and shrubs that bloom in early spring.

Frelinghuysen Arboretum | 353 E. Hanover Ave, Morristown

morristown frelinghuysen arboretum

(Photo credit: @friendsoffrelinghuysen)

The arboretum includes nature and equestrian trails surrounding a neo-colonial mansion and formal gardens. Perfect for a brisk hike, a horseback cantor, or pedaling a bike, the park preserves a wide variety of native and ornamental trees. Concerts are held on the grassy lawn during the warm months like an old English estate.

Reeves-Reed Arboretum | 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit

Top of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum

(Photo credit: @reevesreedarboretum)

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is “dedicated to preserving the past and imagining the future of American gardening”. The lush setting features a variety of gardens, including a unique rock garden which was installed circa 1925. The arboretum is well known for its exceptional events, including its popular and highly anticipated Daffodil Lawn, which blooms during the four weeks of april.

Cross Estate Gardens | 61 Jockey Hollow Road, Bernardsville

gardens of the bernardsville crusader estate

(Photo credit: @bernardsville.nj)

On the site of the Morristown National Historic Park are the Cross Estate Gardens. Open from dawn to dusk and accessible to the public, the gardens are characteristic of the Arts and Crafts period. Stroll through a formal garden of perennials, an avenue of mountain laurels, and marvel at their tall specimen trees. The self-guided walk shares knowledge about historic trees and their historical significance to Native Americans and early American settlers.

Freeman Gardens | 644 Hawthorne Ave, Glen Ridge

Freeman Gardens Glen Ridge

(Photo credit: @freemangardens)

Dedicated volunteers maintain this small rose garden. A short stroll through this corner garden can become a much longer visit if you take the time to soak up all the beauty these roses have to offer. This park is a favorite spot for family events, botanical photography, and respite from zoom work calls.

Leonard J. Buck Garden | 11 Layton Road, Far Hills

Leonard J Buck Garden far from the hills

(Photo credit: @ljbuckgarden)

Hatched in the 1930s, the Leonard J. Buck Garden is one of the most splendid rock gardens on the East Coast. Alpine and woodland gardens flourish on the 33-acre property, showcasing numerous natural outcrops. Wildflowers dot the wooded paths that lead to a collection of exotic plants. This garden peaks in the spring, so pack a snack and see you soon!

See more: A visit to La Serra Gardens, Little Falls Garden Center

Sayen House + Garden | 155 Hughes Drive, Hamilton Square

sayen home and garden hamilton

(Photo credit: @sayenhouseandgardens)

With over 250,000 flower bulbs and trees in bloom, spring really shines at Sayen House and Garden. There are fish ponds, gazebos perfect for weddings, and even an annual azalea festival during blooming season.

Willowwood Arboretum | 300 Longview Road, Far Hills

willowwood arboretum far from the hills

(Photo credit: @willowwoodarboretumfoundation)

Here you’ll find New Jersey’s oldest and most comprehensive arboretum, which is enjoyable spring through fall. There are 130 acres of rolling farmland and 2,100 types of native and exotic plants. With formal gardens and untouched forest, any tree lover will be comfortable navigating among the flowering branches.

Duke Farms | 1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough

Duke Hillsborough Farms

Duke Farms owns over 1,000 acres of land in New Jersey as the setting for its beautiful gardens and woods. You can walk or cycle through this fantastic conservation area thanks to conservationist and plant lover Doris Duke. There are tropical orchids on display, a waterfall, and countless trails and ruins to walk through. Lose yourself on the property, then meet up at their cafe for an afternoon refreshment.

Cora Hartshorn Arboretum + Bird Sanctuary | 324 Forest Drive, Short Hills

Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary Short Hills

(Photo credit: @hartshornarboretum)

Do we have any bird sanctuaries in New Jersey? Surprisingly, yes! There are many nature lovers in this state, including Hartshorn Bird Sanctuary workers and volunteers. Here, you can bird watch and hike the property’s miles of trails, all while enjoying a diverse forest that helps scientists better understand the relationship between people and our environment.

Carving Patterns | 80 Sculptors Road, Hamilton Township

patterns for the hamilton sculpture

(Photo credit: @groundsforsculpture)

A truly spectacular garden, the Grounds For Sculpture offers an astonishing intersection between art and nature. With over 400 pieces in wood, bronze, stone, steel and even paper, this museum and sculpture garden is a source of inspiration. Art comes to life through unexpected shapes in groves of trees, dancing figures from paintings, and abstract expressions in gardens. However, nothing is as remarkable as Monet’s Bridge, recreated in the image of Monet’s famous painting, Bridge over a pond of water lilies.

Morven Museum + Garden | 55 Stockton Street, Princeton

Morven Museum and Garden princeton

(Photo credit: @morvenmuseum)

This National Historic Landmark in the heart of Princeton was once the home of Declaration of Independence signer Richard Stockton. With art exhibits and a fantastic garden outside, it’s a unique historic garden steeped in the landscape of early America. The beautiful garden wall is a highlight, probably erected in the 1850s to serve as a vegetable patch.

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