Category: News

Timely posts about Willowwood.

Lilac Party Cancellation – Spring 2023

Dear Friends of Willowwood,

Our Traditional Lilac Party Fundraiser originally rescheduled for May 21, 2023 has been regretfully cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control.

However, the Board of Trustees of the Willowwood Foundation, is thrilled to announce a uniquely new fresh event scheduled for early September, 2023. As soon as we can release the details, an announcement will appear on this page. We look forward to seeing you in September.

Thank you for your interest and continuous support which allows the Willowwood Foundation to provide strategic initiatives focusing on horticulture interns, educational opportunities and garden restoration at the Willowwood Arboretum.

With best wishes,

Meryl Carmel, President Willowwood Foundation

Winter President’s Message – 2/17/23

Who can believe that Valentine’s Day has come and gone and we have only seen a small hint of good old fashioned winter weather? I miss the charming site of Willowwood wrapped in snow. But this is NJ so there’s always the possibility of a significant snowfall in the next two months. If this occurs, I invite you all to grab cameras (and cell phones) and snap photos at the arboretum to be shared on Instagram and our website. Information is forthcoming regarding where to send your best images (snow or not!). As you know, Willowwood is a lovely destination any time of year.

Many spring plants are a bit confused and poking their heads up right already, so get out to Willowwood and enjoy all the beauty and magic that awaits.

With wishes for good health now and always-

Meryl Carmel, President, Willowwood Foundation

News About Willowwood’s Gardens – 10/28/22

Bruce Crawford, Manager of Horticulture MCPC

Gardener Watering a Flower Garden
Gardener Watering a Flower Garden

At Willowwood, the summer of 2022 will be best remembered in one word – watering!  The long stretch of dry and warm weather necessitated watering recently added plant accessions. Surprisingly, numerous well-established plants showed stress and required irrigation.  Thankfully, the rains returned and our plants and gardeners are no longer looking stressed.

Despite the drought and heat, annuals continued to bloom beautifully.  Additional plants were added to the Rosarie and looking very colorful. Edits and additions are still being made to this garden, including bulbs.  

Another area in need change was the Cornus mas (Cornelian Cherry) bed, adjacent to the Tubbs House.  Several shrubs were slowly consuming the bed.  As they grew, the garden had lost much of the early spring detail it had once displayed.  These shrubs were transplanted into an area by the tent lawn, allowing the White Forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum) to ‘breathe’ once again.  Species tulips will be planted to the area this fall and additional herbaceous plants are planned for a spring planting.

In typical fashion, the spring bulb displays will be planted in November.  We will focus on using bulbs outside of the large flowering tulips.  Thanks to a grant from the Willowwood Foundation, daffodils, various grape hyacinths, summer snowflakes, camas and fritillarias will be used to create a colorful spring display.   We will be planting 2,000 Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica) bulbs in the Winter Garden. These are a deep blue flower that slowly spread to bloom in early to mid-March, providing years of attractive color. 

As always, there is a lot of activity at Willowwood.  I hope that you will be able to come out soon on a weekday to chat with the gardeners or take a long quiet stroll on a weekend.  The air is crisp and cool with some fall color persisting, making this a wonderful time of the year to enjoy the Arboretum.   

Bruce Crawford 

Manager of Horticulture, Morris County Parks Commission    

Bloom Report – 10/28/22

With Halloween just around the corner this Monday, this weekend kicks off the festivities for families throughout the state. While no festive events are scheduled at the arboretum this weekend, visitors are encouraged to come visit to enjoy the orange leaves, natural spider webs, and enjoy the trails while covered in early morning fog for some spooky fun!

We were worried that the drought this summer would cause the plants to turn brown rather than showcase their usual bright colors but the significant rain in the last two months has helped revive the plants for a brilliant display. This weekend will be a great time to enjoy fall color since the Japanese maples are finally reaching their peak. Some favorites are the bright yellow Acer ‘Waterfall’ near the small waterfall in the Cypress pool, the Acer palmatum ‘Ornatum’ which was planted by Robert Tubbs in 1910, and the intensely red Acer palmatum ‘Osakazuki’ across from the Metasequoia. Fall foliage can be tricky to time at Willowwood since different types of trees have different timing. The native maples changed colors early and have lost most of their leaves while the Japanese maples only began to change colors this week. The Katsura have already dropped their sweet, yellow leaves but the Ginkgo has recently turned colors to a summery yellow. Meanwhile, a pear tree near the lilac collection in highland park turned a bold orange this week just in time for Halloween. As always, nature’s timing is on mother nature’s schedule.

Overnight frosts have already hit the gardens this month and sent the gardeners for their pruners and shovels to remove spent plants from the gardens. However, several late-season bloomers haven’t been discouraged by the cold weather. These include asters such as Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ and Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ which are both in bloom in the cottage garden. There are also Anemone throughout the garden such as Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ in Pan’s Garden. A staff favorite, Tricyrtis formosana ‘Amythestina’ is also in bloom around the large wooden barn closest to the main house. Seasonal fruits are also appearing in the garden such as Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’. 

We hope that you enjoyed visiting the Willowwood Arboretum this year and will come back to visit again!

With the growing season coming to a close, please be mindful that the annual wildlife management program will be in effect with several closures in December and January for firearm hunts. For up-to-date information on park closures and events, please visit the website. 

By Zinnea Cheetham

Tubbs Lecture – April 23, 2023

Tubbs Lecture 2023
Tubbs Lecture 2023

Tom Molnar will provide an overview of the Rutgers University dogwood breeding program from its start in the late 1960s to today including the development of “hybrid” dogwoods by plant breeder Dr. Elwin Orton to the new color breakthrough yielding the dark pink Cornus kousa ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire® dogwood. He will also provide a glimpse at exciting plants now in the development pipeline.

Click the image at right to open a flyer about the program.

Tom Molnar is an Associate Professor in the Plant Biology Department at Rutgers University. He obtained his PhD from Rutgers in 2006, and today is responsible for the Rutgers’ program dedicated to research and breeding of hazelnuts and woody ornamental landscape plants. The woody ornamental program is primarily focused on dogwoods including Cornus kousa and Cornus florida and their hybrids, and builds upon decades of previous work at Rutgers started by Dr. Elwin Orton in the 1960s. Tom’s new kousa dogwood cultivar, Scarlet Fire®, exemplifies the programs’ goals to develop and release attractive, high-value plants that incorporate disease resistance, wide-adaptation, and unique colors that are of interest to homeowners and the nursery and landscape industry in New Jersey and beyond.