Frelinghuysen Arboretum

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Picture of a sign saying Frelinghuysen Arboretum
The main entrance to the arboretum is on East Hanover Avenue.

The George Griswold Frelinghuysen Arboretum (127 acres) is an arboretum located at 53 East Hanover Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey. It is open daily without charge. It is also the headquarters of the Morris County Parks Commission.

The arboretum features thematic collections of plant life, including ornamental grasses, spring-blooming shrubs and perennials, summer shrubs and cutbacks, fall fruit and foliage, shade trees, and a garden called the "promising plants garden" which has underused plants supplied by nurseries, growers, and breeders. In front of the large main house there is the Great Lawn, a large gently sloping manicured grassy expanse in the style of an English county manor landscape; it is the site of outdoor concerts in the warmer months. There are different nature and horse trails. There is a Braille Nature Trail in a small wooded hollow just off the Great Lawn which was designed for hands-on exploration. The Kathryn A. Porter "Branching Out!" Garden is worked on by children ages 5–13 during a spring after-school and summer program; the course of study includes cooking and crafts. Participants grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers to take home. The Patriots' Path is a network of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails and green open spaces, and links to other parks in New Jersey.

Background[edit]

Entrance to a building
The main house serves as headquarters for the Morris County Park Commission.
Picture of a stream.
Along the west side of the property, there's a fairly steep cliff, with horse trails, which drops down to this stream.

The arboretum surrounds the Frelinghuysens' Colonial Revival mansion and its formal gardens, and features nature trails with labeled trees and shrubs. The arboretum was established on the site of Whippany Farm, owned by George Griswold Frelinghuysen (1851-1936), son of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, and a New York City patent attorney and president of Ballantine Brewing Company from 1905 until his retirement, and Sara Ballantine (1858-1940) of Newark, New Jersey, granddaughter of the founder Peter Ballantine of the Ballantine Brewing Company. In 1920, Mrs. Sara Ballantine planted roses, and the rose beds were laid out between the spokes of a Chippendale style brick wall set in a basket weave pattern. In 1964 their daughter, Matilda Frelinghuysen (1887-1969) began plans to turn the estate into an arboretum. Today's Frelinghuysen Arboretum was dedicated in 1971.

Trees in the park include willow, magnolia, bald cypress, beeches, crabapples, and flowering cherries. There are wide swaths of the park which have woods only. The months of September through March are a good time to see the ornamental grasses; in December, hollies are of interest. In January and February, Witch-Hazels and early Flowering Bulbs can be seen. March through April is when Hellebores, Cornelian Cherries, and spring Bulbs are in bloom or of peak interest. In late April through May, see the flowering Cherries, Magnolias, Crabapples, and Spring Bulbs. In May through June, look at the Rhododendrons, Dogwoods, Lilacs, Viburnums, Azaleas, Hostas, and Stewartias. Roses are beautiful from May through October. When the leaves turn color in October, Maple trees are particularly impressive. And conifers are on the property year round.

Today, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is also a regional center for horticultural activities, including educational programs, special tours, group tours, special events, and a comprehensive collection of botanical literature. The Joseph F. Haggerty Education Center and Home Demonstration Gardens have been designed to expand the Park Commission's services to the gardening public in a barrier-free environment. The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum Commission was founded in 1972. There is a gift shop and carriage house. The Haggerty Education Center has meeting rooms for meetings. There are several parking lots. To the west there is a meadow and a swamp. The arboretum is bordered by Interstate 287, East Hanover Avenue, and Whippany Road.

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Coordinates: 40°48′11″N 74°27′11″W / 40.803°N 74.453°W / 40.803; -74.453