This article was originally written by Stephanie Forton. It has since been updated by an additional contributor.

Ever wondered why New Jersey is called “The Garden State?” Well, wonder no more. New Jersey is home to a variety of gorgeous public gardens and arboretums. Whether you’re a master gardener looking for some unique gardening ideas or just hoping for a leisurely stroll among the flowers, these public gardens are beautiful spots to spend an afternoon.


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Deep Cut Gardens

public gardens
Location: 152 Red Hill Road, Middletown
Details: Deep Cut Gardens is the perfect destination for the avid home gardener. The park’s 54 acres consist of gardens and greenhouses that feature both cultivated and native plants and trees. The park also offers seasonal walking tours, led by horticulture experts. Gardening workshops are available, as well as free activities for the entire family. Currently, the park is only open on weekends from 8:00 am until dusk. It will reopen on weekdays once the parking lot construction project is completed. Admission is free.
Why I like it: Children will have loads of fun searching for the hidden “Deep Cut Rocks” or visiting the fairy garden.
More info: www.monmouthcountyparks.com or call 732-671-6050


Greenwood Gardens

public gardens
Location: 274 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills
Details: Formerly a private estate, Greenwood Gardens is a 28-acre public garden, nestled in Essex County Park System’s South Mountain Reservation. Greenwood is a contemporary garden rooted in the Arts & Crafts and Classical garden design. Step back in time at this beautiful oasis while exploring garden terraces, grottoes, meandering moss-covered paths and wildflower meadows. Greenwood Gardens offers a variety of nature walks and workshops, as well as outdoor yoga. The garden is open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, beginning in early May. Admission is $10.
Why I like it: Greenwood asks for all cell phones to be silenced on the grounds so that visitors to the garden can enjoy a relaxing, technology-free experience.
More info: greenwoodgardens.org or call 973-258-4026

Willowwood Arboretum

public gardensLocation: 14 Longview Road, Far Hills
Details: Once a private residence, the 130 acres of Willowwood Arboretum are now owned by the Morris County Parks System. The grounds feature over 2,100 native and exotic plants, including daffodils, cherries, magnolias and lilacs, as well as flowering dogwood and crabapple trees. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the numerous gardens, including Bee Meadow, Huckleberry Field and Cottage Garden. From April through October, self-paced cell phone tours of the garden areas and buildings are available. Willowwood is open daily from 8:00 am to dusk. Admission is free.
Why I like it: You may think of spring and summer as ideal times to visit a garden, but Willowwood is still breathtaking in the winter months, with its Ornamentals Collection of evergreen and deciduous plants.
More info: www.willowwoodarboretum.org or call 908-234-1815


Morven Museum & Garden

public gardensLocation: 55 Stockton Street, Princeton
Details: Situated on 5 beautiful acres, the museum showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Garden State through exhibitions and events. Meanwhile, the beautiful gardens surrounding the mansion are the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of nature. Featuring elms and catalpa trees, the grounds strive to recreate the landscape of the past 200 years. Tulips and daffodils begin blooming in April, followed by irises and peonies in May. Throughout the summer, Phlox and summer annuals fill the garden with bright colors. Morven Museum & Garden is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $10.
Why I like it: After strolling the gardens, check out the museum. Here you will find historical collections, fine arts and seasonal exhibits.
More info: morven.org or call 609-924-8144


Reeves-Reed Arboretum

public gardensLocation: 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit
Details: There’s always something blooming at the Reed-Reeves Arboretum. The 13.5-acre property consists of historic and contemporary gardens, as well as plenty of woodland trails. The Arboretum offers something for everyone, including gardening programs for kids and adults, art exhibits and bird watching. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm from November through March and from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm from April through October. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
Why I like it: “Discovery Saturdays” are fun for the whole family. Borrow an Arboretum backpack loaded with binoculars, a magnifying glass and everything you need to enjoy a themed adventure!
More info: www.reeves-reedarboretum.org or call 908-273-8787


New Jersey State Botanical Garden

public gardensLocation: 2 Morris Road, Ringwood
Details: Visit New Jersey State Botanical Garden to discover the boundless beauty of the Garden State. The Skylands property consists of 96 acres of botanical gardens, surrounded by 1,000 acres of woodlands. Visitors can stroll through a variety of landscapes including wildflower and lilac gardens, a magnolia walk and a crabapple allée. Free garden tours are available on Sunday afternoons from May through October. Children’s tours, including a scavenger hunt, are also offered on select dates. The Garden is open every day of the year. Visiting hours are 8:00 am to 8:00 pm during spring, summer and fall months. Admission is free, however there is a parking fee on summer weekends.
Why I like it: Interested in a scenic hike? There are miles of trails for you to explore at the “Garden of the Garden State.”
More info: www.njbg.org or call 973-962-9534


Camden Children’s Garden

public gardensLocation: 3 Riverside Drive, Camden
Details: The Camden Children’s Garden is a four-acre garden for children and families. This little oasis, situated adjacent to the Adventure Aquarium, provides horticultural experiences for imaginative play. Young visitors will love a visit to the Butterfly House, the Dinosaur Garden and the Tree House. There are even rides for the younger kids, including a carousel and train. Starting in mid-March, the garden is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. General admission is $9 per person.
Why I like it: In the summer months, kids can make a splash at the Water Spray Ground, a fun splash pad designed to keep you cool in the hot sun.
More info: www.camdenchildrensgarden.org or call 856-365-8733


Sayen House & Gardens

public gardens
Location: 155 Hughes Drive, Hamilton
Details: Located in historic Hamilton Square, Sayen House & Gardens is a nature lover’s dream. This 30-acre parcel of land was purchased by Frederick Sayen, an avid gardener and world traveler, in 1912. Afterward, he built a small home and surrounded it with flowers and plants from around the world. The collection includes plant species from England, China and Japan, many of which are still flourishing today. When spring arrives, the garden comes alive with more than 250,000 flowering bulbs, as well as heirloom azaleas and rhododendrons. Sayen Gardens is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.
Why I like it: Unlike many of New Jersey’s public gardens, Sayen House & Gardens allows leashed dogs. Now Fido can bask in the beauty of the grounds with you!
More info: www.hamiltonnj.com or call 609-890-3630


Cora Hartshorn Arboretum & Bird Sanctuary

public gardensLocation: 324 Forest Drive South, Short Hills
Details: Families flock to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum to enjoy all that nature has to offer. The arboretum features a wide variety of native wildflowers and is also home to multiple species of ferns and trees. The arboretum’s unique geological features, including a natural amphitheater created by glaciers, adds to its appeal. In addition, the Arboretum is a popular spot for migrating birds in the spring and the fall, making it the perfect place to do a little bird watching. The arboretum offers classes and events for all ages. The trails and grounds are open year-round during daylight hours. Admission is free.
Why I like it: The “Citizen Science” program allows visitors to play the role of scientist and collect valuable data that will help the arboretum staff gauge and plan for future conservation needs.
More info: hartshornarboretum.org or call 973-376-3587


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