A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook

Willowwood Arboretum in Chester, New Jersey had their annual Open House today. I was fortunate to be able to attend with a Morris County Master Gardener who volunteers there. Willowwood was an estate of 130 acres owned by two brothers who were avid gardeners and plant collectors. Many of the 3500 kinds of native and exotic plants and trees were planted by them after they bought the property in 1908.

My first glimpse of the estate was the barn which is now a visitor’s center.

The arbor was especially striking.

The vines of the Japanese wisteria that covers it have grown so thick that they appear to be a part of the arbor.

After an introductory slide show in the visitor’s center, our first tour was the Autumn Ornamentals, trees and shrubs for fall. I must confess that trees do not particularly interest me except when they have interesting bark or structure.

Our second tour of the day was of the gardens. We started in the shade garden.

Then it was on to Pan’s Garden which is a narrow formal garden meant to be viewed from a covered porch. It was difficult to photograph because of the number of people on the tour and the narrow walkways. From there we entered Woodwalk.

The brothers did a lot of their collecting in Japan. Woodwalk reflects this.

This bridge . . .

. . . is composed of stepping stones over the brook.

The path led us to a meadow full of wildflowers. I saw the asters that I had bought at Well Sweep Herb and realized that I will have to move them. They will be much too large for the border in which they are planted.

Our last stop was the Cottage Garden located in front of the house.

Beyond the cottage garden was this:

Right next door to Willowwood is Bamboo Brook, an estate originally owned by William and Martha Brookes Hutcheson. Mrs. Hutcheson was one of the first female landscape architects in the nation. Bamboo Brook is still being renovated by the Morris County Parks Commission.

The formal gardens have been finished while the ponds and their associated gardens are still being cleared of years of overgrowth.

If you enlarge the picture below, you can see in the background how the ponds have to be literally excavated, much like an archeological dig.

The tennis court:

I loved this little shed.

It is anticipated that renovation of the ponds and their gardens will be finished next year. I would love to be able to come back here with the Straw Hats for another tour then.

More photos of our visit to Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook can be seen on Flickr.


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Phillip said...

I enjoyed the tour. I've not heard of this garden before. I really love the circular water basin in the Japanese garden. That gives me ideas! :)

At 7:36 PM, Blogger OldRoses said...

Philip, that's one of the reasons I love visiting gardens. I get so many great ideas for my own yard. Scaled down, of course.


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