Reeves-Reed Arboretum

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Reeves-Reed Arboretum
Reeves-Reed Arboretum.jpg
Garden view, 2007
Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located in Union County, New Jersey
Reeves-Reed Arboretum
Location Summit, NJ
Coordinates 40°43′36″N 74°20′53″W / 40.72667°N 74.34806°W / 40.72667; -74.34806Coordinates: 40°43′36″N 74°20′53″W / 40.72667°N 74.34806°W / 40.72667; -74.34806
Area 13.5 acres (5.5 ha)
Built 1889-1925
Architect Calvert Vaux, Ellen Biddle Shipman and Carl F. Pilat
Governing body City of Summit
NRHP Reference # 93000233
Added to NRHP 1993

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum (13.5 acres (5.5 ha)) is a nonprofit arboretum and garden located at 165 Hobart Avenue in Summit, Union County, New Jersey, United States. It is the only arboretum in Union County. The arboretum grounds are open daily from dawn till dusk, free of charge.

The property was originally traversed by Lenni Lenape Native Americans on their route from the coast near Elizabeth to the highlands near Schooley's Mountain. During the American Revolutionary War, it was farmed, and was adjacent to the site of the Old Sow cannon and the signal beacon atop Beacon Hill on the Second Watchung Mountain.

In 1889, John Hornor Wisner, a merchant in the China trade, purchased the property for a country estate. He hired New York architects Babb, Cook and Willard to build a Colonial Revival house, sited facing south with extensive views over the rolling hills. He and his wife, Isabelle, moved with their children to their stylish new home and called it "The Clearing." Working with noted landscape architect Calvert Vaux, they planted specimen trees and created flower beds and a meandering path around the property. In 1916, new owners, Richard and Susie Reeves, purchased the estate. Susie Reeves expanded the gardens, guided by prominent landscape architects Ellen Biddle Shipman (1924) and Carl F. Pilat (1924-1925), adding a rose garden in 1925. The Charles L. Reed family became the last private owners in 1968, adding an herb garden. In 1974, the estate was preserved as a public arboretum by the City of Summit.

The gardens are a beautifully maintained example of early 20th century landscape architecture, also known as the Country Place Movement. Italianate in character, the garden layout is symmetrical and axial, creating formal garden rooms off a main axis from the house. The Gretchen Keller Azalea Garden (designed by Shipman and Pilat) and Rock Garden contain about 850 shrubs and 25 trees. Its peak bloom is in May, with the dogwoods, azaleas, lilacs, deutzia and crabapples. The Susie Graham Reeves Rose Garden contains 286 rose bushes, representing over 150 varieties of roses, including floribundas and hybrid teas laid out in a traditional circle-in-a-square design. The central feature of the rose garden is a cherub fountain from the Reeves period. Old fashioned roses flank the formal garden, and climbing roses are trained on posts and chains. Over 30,000 daffodils bloom in a glacial bowl in front of Wisner House each April.

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