Regional Travel Travelogues

Frelinghuysen Arboretum

A beautiful day-off-work, off we went in search of someplace new to see before the sun went down. Just a half-hour away, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, had managed to stay off our radar screens all these years. Who knew?

It’s the former summer estate of the Frelinghuysen family, an ancient New Jersey clan that still boasts a member of Congress among its members. Close to the entrance are some formal gardens with specimen trees and plantings, including even at this late date on the calendar several kinds of lettuces and flowers that one would think would need a greenhouse.

Some unusual vegetables were still in, um, flower.

If you don’t recognize that right away (believe it or not, I did) it’s a cardoon, a celery-like vegetable that’s popular in Italian neighborhoods. The leaves are stripped, the stems are peeled, the whole thing is then boiled, and the children refuse to touch it.

Lots of lovely decor. Fountains abound and there are many lovely spots to sit and enjoy a quiet corner or a long view to the distant mountains.

There’s also a labyrinth made of stones interspersed with children’s paintings on rocks and pottery.

Like so much of New Jersey, the arboretum did not escape damage from the hurricane.

In the image above, you’re standing down at the bottom of a grassy lawn, near where one of the main roadways goes. Here’s the view looking downward from the house towards that spot.

A line of tall pines variously snapped or toppled over, you can see the scars. Here are some close-ups.

Here are some of the nice specimens we saw in the pine grove.

This one looks like a ready-made topiary.

Usually I think of scotch pine as a variety of Christmas tree. This one grows like a wide and tall shrub.
Here’s the lovely F. standing in a small grouping of scotch pines.
Picea Indet, a variety of spruce named “Elissa Weldon”

Back up by the main building was a scene of this glowing Japanese cut-leaf maple.

A dramatic eastern red cedar.

And a dragons-eye pine.

Several trails wind through the woods. Down here we discovered a large grove of beech trees, glowing trunks in grey-white.

There’s always a downside and you can count on me to point it out. Unlike places like Skylands, this is hard on the highway. In fact, a couple of them. I-287 is a constant droning presence everywhere you go on the property, and Whippany Rd. is busy as well. But even though nobody likes I-287 — especially the people who drive on it — it’s not going anywhere soon.

Tom McGee has been building web sites since 1995, and blogging here since 2006. Currently a senior developer at Seton Hall University, he's also a freelance web programmer and musician. Contact him if you have the need for a blog, web site, redesign or custom programming!

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