Lush Life

It’s time to get out and get growing. Here are some of the Garden State’s best resources for inspiration and advice.

It’s time to get out and get growing. Here are some of the Garden State’s best resources for inspiration and advice.

Creating a beautiful landscape or garden doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without some planning. To help with your research, New Jersey offers an endless variety of places to explore and ways to find inspiration—as well as make those plant, shrub, and tree purchases. It’s the season to roll up your sleeves, put on your garden shoes, and get serious about gardening!


Visit parks, gardens, and arboretums
There are more than 50 beautiful and varied parks, gardens, and arboretums throughout the state, enough for weekend day trips for a whole year. For a listing, check

Here’s a sampling:

The New Jersey Botanical Gardens at Skylands in Ringwood, with more than 5,000 species and varieties of plants on 96 magnificent acres. Call 973-962-9534 or 973-962-7527 for information or go to

Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair. Late May/early June is the ideal time to see one of the world’s largest iris collections. The garden has more than 2,000 varieties in every color imaginable. Call 973-783-5974 for directions or go to for bloom updates.

Duke Farms in Hillsborough. This estate features eleven breathtaking greenhouse gardens, each with a different theme. It’s open from September 1 to May 31, so you still have time. If the greenhouse tickets are gone, you can still book a bus tour of the grounds throughout the summer. Call 908-722-3700 or go to for reservations.

Leaming’s Run Botanical Gardens in Middle Township. Explore the 30 acres of this world-class botanical garden and more than two dozen themed areas. Visit soon to explore its flowers, ferns, and ponds but return in August to see its hundreds of hummingbirds (609-465-5871;


The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program.
If you have ever hungered to peek behind the fence into someone else’s garden, the Garden Conservancy provides just that opportunity. This year, from May to September, each of twenty private gardens will be open to the public for a single day. Call 888-842-2442 or go to for information about the program, including specific dates, garden descriptions, and locations. You can also order The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Directory, Northeast Edition ($6.95).


The Garden Club of New Jersey. This umbrella organization, which celebrated its 80th anniversary last year, has more than 120 individual garden clubs and 5,000 members throughout the state. Clubs provide lectures, workshops, sometimes even youth programs, and plant sales that often focus on plants ideally suited to your locale. Check to see if there is a club in your area (732-244-0947).


If you want to buy plants, local garden centers generally stock familiar plants at good prices and offer advice, but a visit to a specialized nursery may yield more hard-to-find offerings. From wildflowers to herbs, topiaries, and heirloom plants, you can find truly unusual selections.

Here are a few of the many standouts:

Atlock Farm in Somerset. Once a dairy farm, Atlock is a nursery that offers unusual annuals, perennials, herbs, and conservatory plants, and exquisite topiaries that spill out of old, mossy greenhouses (732-356-3373).

Triple Oaks Nursery and Herb Farm in Franklin Township, in Gloucester County. Triple Oaks offers a huge selection of plants, plus events like their June 4th Herb Festival and classes on herb gardening and flower pressing (856-694-4272;

Rarefind Nursery in Jackson. On the outskirts of the Pine Barrens, Rare­find has an outstanding collection of unusual trees and shrubs (732-833-0613;

Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Mansfield Township offers one of the largest collections of herbs in the country: Just imagine more than 100 varieties of thyme (908-852-5390;

Toadshade Wildflower Farm in Frenchtown. Wildflowers are not easy to grow from seeds; Toadshade offers little seen wildflowers, grasses, and other plants native to New Jersey that are ideal for a natural setting (908-996-7500;

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