The Other “Garden State”

While New Jersey is referred to as the "Garden State" because of its farms and fresh produce, the state also has breathtaking gardens and arboretums gracing every region.
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While New Jersey is referred to as the "Garden State" because of its farms and fresh produce, the state also has breathtaking gardens and arboretums gracing every region.

Described as one of the most beautiful gardens in the country, Leaming's Run Gardens in Swainton boasts 20 acres - each with its own theme - and stands as one of the largest annual gardens in the United States. In Middletown, the 54-acre Deep Cut Gardens and its greenhouses feature native plant materials that visitors can see throughout the seasons. For azalea lovers, the first-rate Jay Pratt Azalea Gardens in Sharptown features more than 400 varieties and is open for viewing in May. The Avis Campbell Gardens in Montclair re-creates English-style gardens, and for rose lovers there's the Wallbridge Rose Garden in Millburn.

Duke Farms in Hillsborough offers nature tours, bike tours, a self-guided nature walk and educational programs. One of New Jersey's greatest hidden treasures can be found in Newark's Branch Brook Park, which boasts the biggest collection of cherry trees anywhere in the world. Visitors flock to the park each spring to view the large, reddish-pink and white blossoms. Dedicated in 1984, the 96-acre New Jersey Botanical Garden is the culmination of two eras of landscape architectural enterprise. It has an extensive variety of plants, evergreens, deciduous trees and shrubs. Special features of the gardens include the crabapple vista, terraced gardens, perennial and annual gardens, and woodland paths. The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair feature more than 4,000 varieties of world-famous irises, some dating back to the 1500's. The Presby also boasts an unmatched array of well-known and rare irises, earning it national historic site designation.

Sayen Gardens in Hamilton is a beautiful attraction throughout the spring. Filled with azaleas and rhododendrons brought from China, Japan and England, the gardens highlight colorful blossoming species, providing a feast for the eyes. Sayen holds some 1,000 azaleas and 500 rhododendrons of hybrid and native species. One of the state's most unique gardens is Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. The 35-acre garden blends meticulously groomed grounds with exhibits of well-known and emerging contemporary sculptors to create a sculpture park.

Flower fanatics can tour arboretums and botanical gardens all over the state and even go home with a carload of fresh herbs for the garden from the Well-Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray. And in Hillsborough, Duke Farms is a model of environmental stewardship on 2,740 acres, offering nature, horticulture, agriculture and family programs, bus and bike tours and a free self-guided nature walk.