Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Willowwood Arboretum



I thought you might like to come with me to explore Willowwood Arboretum. Although I drive past often, I had never visited the place till yesterday. What a wonderful surprise! The arboretum consists of 130 acres of meadows, pastures and gardens nestled in the Hacklebarney Hills of Morris County in New Jersey.





In the seventeenth century, the property was part of a large French Huguenot farm. Over the next hundred years, the remaining woods were cleared and in 1839 the fields and pastures were purchased by the Kenneday family and named "Paradise Farm."




In 1908, the property was bought by a pair of brothers, Henry and Robert Tubbs, for use as a weekend retreat where they could indulge in their horticultural interests.

The brothers were born in Pennsylvania, and had a love of gardening and botany instilled in them during their childhood. As young men, they both took jobs in New York City. They discovered Paradise Farm during a weekend jaunt in the country, bought it and renamed it "Willowwood" because of the large weeping willows which lined the driveway.




When their mother, father and sister visited the farm, they loved it so much that they all stayed on. Willowwood became the new Tubbs family residence. Over the next 40 years, Henry and Robert Tubbs transformed the farm into a beautifully landscaped collection of rare and distinctive plants. Their design philosophy was simple -- "Nature is the guiding hand."




The design of Willowwood was influenced in part by Martha Brookes Hutcheson, one of the first female lanscape architects in the country. Hutcheson owned the adjoining property, Bamboo Brook. Her European travels informed her designs, which may be seen in parts of Willowwood as well.




Henry and Robert Tubbs had many connections in the world of plant exploration, and Willowwood was the recipient of plants from numerous expeditions, including those of the famous plant explorer E. H. Wilson. Some original specimens that found their way to Willowwood include the Davidia, Lace Bark Pine, Waterlily Magnolia and Chinese House Lemon. The arboretum is justly proud of a champion Metasequoia which was grown from seeds collected in China in 1947.




Willowwood includes a beautiful cottage garden, formal gardens and a shade garden which I will show you later this week or early next week. Most of the photos here are of The Stone Barn, which is also called The Myers Center. It is a beautiful structure, built of local Roxbury Puddingstone, circa 1790. Today it is used for meetings, programs and rentals. As you can see, it is wonderfully landscaped with many lovely plantings of ivy, bamboo, laburnum and lilac. There is also a wisteria arbor nearby.




Willowwood is beautifully maintained by the Morris County Park Commission. For more information, visit their website.

Willowwood Arboretum
300 Longview Road
Chester Township, NJ 07930

26 comments:

  1. What a lovely, peaceful place of history to be able to visit. I look forward to seeing the gardens as you post them.

    FlowerLady

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  2. What a pretty setting. I love the building with the stone. Beautiful.
    Robin

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  3. Hi
    questa casa Willowwood Arboretum è semplicemente fantastica !!!
    Meravigliosa !!!!
    Il giardino è un gioiello di natura.

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  4. Thank you for the tour Mary, the buildings are wonderful. I look forward to seeing other sights in the garden. Take care:)

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  5. Oh my. This is so beautiful. What a peaceful to call "home".
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Karen
    Ladybug Creek

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  6. I certainly enjoyed your visit and historical commentary, Mary. The setting is so peaceful and I love how you've framed the bench beneath a gothic arch of tree branches. Thank you.

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  7. What a lovely tour. I can't wait for you to show us more. I love the ivy on the building and the picture of the bench. That looks like a very peaceful place to sit a spell. Carla

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  8. What a beautiful place... what a great place for a leisure walk.

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  9. Mary what lovely pictures. It so happens that my last pictures are also taken in an arboretum here in Rotterdam. I didn't mention it as I didn't realise it was a common worldwide word. I was there yesterday and took 150 pictures. It is such a beautiful park. I will use some more during the next weeks.
    Have a great day and I am looking forward to more ,
    Riet

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  10. What a beautiful place! I can't wait to see more pictures!

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  11. Looks like a wonderful place to visit
    : )

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  12. Love this place....so serene looking. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Cheers
    Rochelle

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  13. WOW, what an amazing place!

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  14. I've had a love affair with trees since I was in High School. (C.S. Lewis loved them, too) Aren't they so droopingly romantic? Doesn't each one seem to have a personality - with the oldest having the most character, of course?

    I grew up in Pasadena, CA and, even though it's a desert, is full of trees and landscaping. (One needs shade in those parts!) Also, because of the mild weather, there were so many different varieties that people would garden with. In Arcadia, the next town over, was an arboretum. We would go there often for a school field trip and with our family. It was vast and had several different sections, including a bamboo forest. I LOVED exploring and getting myself lost there!

    When I moved out East, I thought that I would be in heaven but started to feel as if I couldn't see the trees for the forest. I've learned how to appreciate them in a different way, though. Surely, there are still old and stately maples on main street that stand out but, the hills of trees take on such a lovely life of their own, according to the seasons. I mean, this is obvious, but, I love the different colors and textures of the trees - i.e. isn't it lovely this time of year? Hope you know what I'm trying to say. Then, there are birch trees - probably no need to explain that. Also, I love stands of trees - a picturesque grouping around a meadow, etc. I'm doing okay, now that I've started to appreciate that aspect of them but your arboretum sounds wonderful! The buildings look glorious, too!

    Can't wait to see the gardens!

    Love, Katy Noelle

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  15. what a beautiful and peaceful place to be. I would be so happy to live there and never go into the city. I could just stay forever!

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  16. Beautiful barn and grounds...they even have clean windows...very. Truly interesting background story. Wonder if the brothers were happy to have everyone show up and stay on. I can see why it'd be hard to leave.

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  17. Oh, what a lovely place. You must have enjoyed your visit.

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  18. Oh Mary thank you for taking us on a tour of Willowwood. It is stunning
    Alison

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  19. Oh Mary, I saw Arboretum in your title and my heart started going pitty pat! Wonderful, thank you for this amazing entry. I can feel the cool shade on my arms from where you stood under those stately trees.
    hugs....

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  20. Beautiful property, it all looks so peaceful, it radiates through your photographs. . .The stone building has character written all over it, thanks for sharing!

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  21. How very lovely. We will have to take a trip over there. My horticulture teen would very much enjoy this property.

    Becky K.

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  22. gorgeous! so glad you went there!! jkj

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  23. Thanks so much for sharing this tour! What a beautiful place.

    Donna

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  24. WOW...Mary these are soooo beautiful. I could see them published in a magazine!

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  25. Wow; what an amazing place and piece of God's wonderful creation! You captured it beautifully.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I love to hear what you have to say!