Say Hello to Summer at These Top 5 Gardens in Morris County, NJ
The beauty of summer is not lost on the residents of Morris County, New Jersey. With so many options for witnessing the stunning natural beauty of our state, finding the fan favorites can be difficult. Luckily, we compiled a list of the top five most interesting, beautiful, historically relevant, and utterly unique. At each of the following gardens in Morris County, NJ, visitors marvel at the way the changing seasons are reflected in the flora and fauna of the state. Stay at each spot to learn a little more about New Jersey history, take in the aroma of flowers, watch the butterflies, and more.
#1: Macculloch Hall Historical Museum and Gardens
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum and Gardens is a community favorite for lush gardens in Morris County, New Jersey. It is just across the street from the historic Thomas Nast House. It is also known as Villa Fontana, where editorial cartoonist Thomas Nast resided.
The sprawling garden dates back to the early 1800s. Features include many types of beautiful flora and fauna. Check out the wisteria, the roses, the sundial. The garden is open to visitors Sunday – Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there is no cost to visit.
#2: Cross Estate Gardens
The New Jersey Historical Garden Foundation, in cooperation with the National Park Service, manage these gardens. Located on the Cross Estate, former site of the New Jersey Brigade Unit encampment during the American Revolution and located at Morristown National Historical Park, visit it at 61 Jockey Hollow Road in Bernardsville.
Composed of both formal and native gardens, this lovely garden reflects New Jerseyans’ love for their home state and desire to preserve its history and beauty. This garden style is an English formal arrangement. It is part native garden and part wild overgrown perennial garden. There is a low brick wall surrounding it and it is broken up into a geometrical path so you can wander freely. You’ll stroll through a large variety of flora, through a wisteria-covered pergola, and a mountain laurel allee.
The Cross Estate is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the spring and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer. Parking is free, and there are no entry fees for visitors.
#3: Wick House & Herb Garden
Henry Wick built this Cape-Cod-style house around 1750 on his 1,400-acre farm, most of which was covered by forest. This site is properly historic as it acted as another winter encampment site for Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. During the winter of 1779-1780, the army chopped down over 600 acres of the trees on Mr. Wick’s property. Nowadays, the restored six-room house and accompanying herb garden reflect the life of a relatively prosperous farmer during the Revolutionary period.
Located at Morristown National Historical Park, visitors can walk the 27 miles of trails of Jockey Hollow to visit. Although the interiors are not currently open due to Covid, Wick House & Herb Garden is hoping to open its doors again come Summer 2021. Admission is free.
#4: Frelinghuysen Arboretum
This spot was voted New Jersey’s Favorite Public Garden. On the site, a former Gilded Age mansion sits on 127 acres, now owned and operated by the Morris County Park Commission. Previously owned by brewery owner George Griswold Frelinghuysen, the arboretum features a collection of unique plants, trees, and flowers. There are ornamental grasses, spring-blooming shrubs, and perennials. There are also summer shrubs and cutbacks, fall fruit and foliage, as well as shade trees. Additionally, visitors can stroll through the “promising plants garden,” which has underused plants supplied by nurseries, growers, and breeders from New Jersey.
For hands-on exploring, seek out the Braille Nature Trail or the one-mile trail known as Patriots Path, which links the Arboretum to Acorn Hall, an 1853 mansion that plays host to the Morris County Historical Society. The arboretum is open from 8 a.m. to dusk daily and is free for visitors.
#5: Willowwood Arboretum
This final submission is one of the most beautiful gardens in Morris County, NJ. Willowwood, a staple of the Morris County Park Commission, features 136 acres of rolling farmland in Chester. There are approximately 3,500 varieties of native and exotic plants. Many of the plants featured here are rare plant species. In addition, the botanic collections include oak, maple, willow, magnolia, lilac, cherry, fir, pine, and Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia). As the prize of the Willowwood Arboretum, the Redwood trees are now more than 100 feet tall.
There are also masses of ferns and handsome stands of field and forest wildflowers. The Tubbs House located on the property dates back to 1792. A conservatory was added in the 1930s and the gardens were designed to connect the house and the landscape in a thoughtful way. It is open daily from 8 a.m. until dusk and entry is free for visitors.