Welcome to the Willowwood Arboretum Now OPEN Daily 8 am to Dusk

Exciting Events at Willowwood

In 1908 two brothers used a small legacy to acquire their country home near Gladstone, New Jersey.

The two brothers, Henry and Robert Tubbs, and Henry’s adopted son, Dr. Benjamin Blackburn, developed this country place into the Willowwood Arboretum, New Jersey’s most comprehensive and longest continually operating Arboretum.

Since 1980 under the stewardship and management of the Morris County Park Commission, the Willowwood Foundation and the support and hard work of countless donors and volunteers have made it possible for the public to enjoy this beautiful green space of gardens and meadows.

Willowwood Arboretum and Bamboo Brook are open daily free to the public from 8 am to Dusk.


Marta McDowell Article About Willowwood

Marta McDowell, the noted botanical author and landscape historian, has written a fascinating history of Willowwood Arboretum for the UK publication Hortus 136 (Winter, 2020). We are pleased to offer a pdf of the article (click the image at right) with the editor's permission.

Be sure also to visit the Hortus website: hortus.co.uk for more information about this fine gardening quarterly.

Late Summer Update: Brace Krag, President of the Willowwood Foundation

Click to enlarge

Happy Summer! One might ask “what’s so happy about it?”, in lieu of the unprecedented headlines around the world. My response is simple: spend time in nature and you’ll see. Now that Willowwood and Bamboo Brook reopened August 3, 2020, I am looking forward to taking a nice long walk out my back door through the adjoining Morris County Park properties, Black River, Bamboo Brook and Willowwood and return rejuvenated and restored with positivity and perspective.

Clearly Coronavirus is not to be taken lightly. We followed the guidance of the CDC and decided to postpone our spring events (until 2021), The Tubbs Lecture and The Lilac Party. This was unfortunate but unavoidable. The good news, however, is the simple fact that the Willowwood Arboretum continues to provide a destination and an escape from our all-too-familiar dwellings. The re opening (Daily 8 am to Dusk) brings the historic gardens and the beautiful summer light that evoke happiness. The simple change of scenery truly can work magic. Please follow social distancing guidelines - masks and 6' space in the gardens for the safety of other visitors and our wonderful garden staff.

Our work at the Willowwood foundation in support of horticultural education, providing grants and collaboration for improvements with Willowwood Arboretum management, continues. Our committed staff and trustees, like everyone else, are working remotely. The Morris County park system staff have increased their efforts to provide us all with an inspiring open-air surrounding.

I urge you to consider a visit to the Arboretum, especially now. (Daily 8 am to Dusk). There is plenty of space, light and natural beauty to be enjoyed. Welcome back!

Our annual upcoming fall open house will be VIRTUAL on October 7, 2020 at 10 am and will showcase both the Tubbs House and the Arboretum at one of my favorite times of the year. Fall colors, cooler temperatures and dappled light have a great effect on gardens. The welcome break from heat, humidity and perpetual weeding comes as a welcome respite. It also reminds us that the dynamic world of horticulture can be appreciated at any point on the timeline. See our event page for registration details.

We also look forward to next year’s very special 25th Anniversary Lilac Party POSTPONED TO NEW DATE May 16th, 2021. More information will be forthcoming on the website, but please be sure to mark your calendars.

Sadly, I began our Fall, 2019 newsletter by remembering the Life and years of service of Willowwood Foundation Trustee, Becky Terry, Library Committee Chair and Lilac Party Co-Chair with Anne Peterson. Our May 2019 Lilac Party’s success was due to the shared hard work of both Becky and Anne especially in selecting the plants for our annual fundraising event’s plant auction.

Becky’s board service began over 10 years ago but her passion for gardens, design and the natural world dated from her early childhood. Becky was a Lady.  She rarely ever missed a meeting. She never complained, always smiled and always found the positive in any situation.  We are blessed for having her help. Our plans to memorialize Becky are still in their infancy but will be forthcoming.

We wish also to thank George Rochat who leaves the Board after 3 terms. George joined the Board because of his friendship with Becky and her late husband John. His comments and contributions about Willowwood and its gardens were always interesting, on point and immensely helpful.

I wish to thank the Trustees, Morris County Park System and our donors for the collective effort that makes the Arboretum successful. Without the financial grease on which this engine runs, we could not do what we love to do. Your ongoing and future generosity is greatly needed and appreciated. The Willowwood Foundation is a certified 501 © 3 for purposes of gifting and is eligible for Corporate Matching.

Warm Regards,

Brace Krag, President, Willowwood Foundation

Willowwood Cell Phone Tour resumes Monday, August 3, 2020, 10 am to 3 pm, Monday thru Friday.

The Willowwood Foundation and the Morris County Parks Commission partnered together to implement a tour of the key highlights (core gardens and buildings) at the Willowwood Arboretum via your cell phone. Visitors simply dial 973-349-3020 and begin their walking tour, stop by stop, listening to short audio clips about each place of interest. This technology is very similar to audio tours found at museums etc.

An exciting new addition debuted in 2018 includes a new walk highlighting the relationship with the Tubbs and E.H. 'Chinese' Wilson, plant explorer extraordinaire. Starting about 1928 when E. H. Wilson became 'Keeper' (Director) of the Arnold Arboretum, the Tubbs and Wilson exchanged letters with plant advice and commentary as well as seeds and plants. Today, Willowwood displays a collection of some of the plants Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) brought back from his trips to China. See our Cell Phone Tab for more information, as well as this article from The Plantsman (Sept. 2018), People behind the plants: Ernest Wilson.

Willowwood’s beauty is clearly evident, but its fascinating history is not. Using cell phone technology helps us to share the story of Willowwood Arboretum with visitors and provide in depth plant information. In 2014, Rob Diemar, Past President of the Willowwood Foundation noted, “The Willowwood Foundation is excited to have been able to work with the Morris County Park Commission to introduce the first cell phone tour to Willowwood Arboretum. This project (funded by Dan Will, Trustee emeritus) brings Willowwood into the 21st century and provides guests visiting the Arboretum an opportunity to learn so much more about its rich history. This will truly enhance the visitors experience at Willowwood."

To see a map of the Cell Phone Tour Stops, click here or on Cellphone Tour in the Menu Box.

Visitors are invited to enjoy the gardens Spring through Fall. During Winter, the Ornamentals Collection offers evergreen and deciduous plants featuring interesting fruit, bark or branching habit.


Willowwood, 130 acres of rolling farm land, has about 2,100 kinds of native and exotic plants, many of them rare. In addition to the formal gardens near the residence and undisturbed forest, historic collections include oak, maple, willow, magnolia, lilac, cherry, fir, pine, a superb specimen of Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia) now more than 98’ tall, masses of ferns and handsome stands of field and forest wild flowers.