“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” Claude Monet
If April showers bring May flowers, then this spring and summer should be a riot of blooming color! The NJ Botanical Garden at Skylands in Ringwood is a perfect day for families of all generations. With 13 formal gardens and miles of marked trails and wooded paths to explore, this is a place to experience the beauty of nature and the joy that flowers bring. Though beautiful in every season, the Botanical Gardens’ 96 acres of specialty gardens, surrounded by 1000 acres of woodlands, is at its most glorious during the warmer months of May-October.
During the spring and summer, you will delight in the sights and smells of the meticulously kept formal gardens: Annual Garden (July-Oct.), Perennial Border (April-Oct.), Crab Apple Allee (May), Hosta/Rhododendron Garden (May-June), Morraine Garden (year- round), Wildflower Garden (April-Oct.), Lilac Garden (late April – June), Peony Garden (May-June), Summer Garden (May-Oct.), Azalea Garden (April-Oct.), Magnolia Walk (April-Oct.), Octagonal Garden (April-Oct.), and Winter Garden (year round). My personal favorites are the Azalea Garden – a color explosion of azaleas, rhododendrons and waterlilies around the reflecting pool – and Magnolia Walk – a beautiful, tree-lined walking path.
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Free, guided tours of the gardens are offered every Sunday at 2 pm. from May through October. Tours leave from the Carriage House Visitors Center and last 45-60 minutes. A self-guided tour is also available for download on the njbg.org website. For those interested in the history and architecture of Skylands Manor House, guided tours of the Manor’s ground floor are available for $7 on selected Sundays (the dates are available under “events” on the website.) The Tudor revival mansion was designed in the 1920s by renowned architect, John Russel Pope. The façade’s weathered stone, slate roof and classic ironwork was intentionally made to feel centuries old. Similarly, the interior’s antiqued paneling, fireplaces and stained glass were meant to evoke grand European estates.
The Botanical Gardens are open every day of the year – 8 am to 8 pm in the warmer months and 8 am to 6 pm in the winter. Admission is free but there is a $5 parking fee for NJ vehicles (slightly higher for out of state) on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I hope you will consider a family outing to Skylands and let your senses be taken over by nature.