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Frelinghuysen Arboretum

by: Sue Adler
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The George Griswold Frelinghuysen Arboretum is comprised of 127 acres of land. It is located at 53 East Hanover Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey. It opens from day to day, without any charge on admission. It is also the known headquarters of the Morris County Parks Commission.

What to See

The arboretum is quite proud of its thematic collections of plant life. These include ornamental grasses, spring-blooming shrubs and perennials, summer shrubs and cutbacks, shade trees, and more. It even has a garden which they call as “promising plants garden”. Fronting the huge main house is the Great Lawn, which is a large gently sloping manicured grassy area in the style of an English county manor landscape. During warmer months, it is the venue for outdoor concerts. Aside from that, there are different nature and horse trails in the arboretum as well, like the Braille Nature Trail. Moreover, visitors can also find the Kathryn A. Porter “Branching Out!” Garden, worked on by children from 5 to 13 years old during a spring after-school and summer program.

How to Keep Up with the Arboretum

If you are not quite familiar with the activities of Frelinghuysen Arboretum, keeping up with it may seem overwhelming. Here are a few recommendations.

  • Visit their official website on a regular basis.
  • Look specifically at two sections which they change regularly, which are the Events Page and the News Page. The Events Page gives detailed listing of programs in the coming months, while the latter provides brief news items regarding the updates on Arboretum.
  • Be a member.
  • Sign up for regular e-mail newsletter.

Arboretum Details

  • Location: 353 East Hanover Avenue, Morrison, NJ
  • Hours at the Grounds: From 8:00 am to dusk daily
  • Hours at the Haggerty Education Center: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm every day
  • Free Admission
  • Benefits of Membership: Arboretum Leaves newsletter, private events, reduced admission for most events, and more. See website for additional information.
  • Official Website: http://arboretumfriends.org

Brief History

George G. Frelinghuysen is a patent attorney and son of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State under president Chester A. Arthur. He married Sara Ballantine, granddaughter of the founder of the P. Ballantine Brewing Company.

In the year 1891, the couple commissioned the Rotch and Tilden architectural firm to make a summer home and carriage house on the property named Whippany Farm. This Colonial Revival Style is quite evident, with the home’s Federal urns and swags, ionic columns, huge Palladian window and more.

The family lived there for the summer. By winter, they lived at 1 Sutton Place in New York City. The property was a working farm. Lots of flowers and vegetables were grown there and sent to New York City. There were greenhouses, barns, and the like.

George died in 1936, while Sara died in 1940. The property was then left to their daughter named Matilda. She had an interest in gardening, also a member of the Garden Club of Morristown. By 1964, she started plans on converting the estate into an arboretum. At the time of her death, the land and house was bequeathed to the people of Morris County for the use of a public arboretum. And in 1971, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum was dedicated.

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