Category: Message from our President

Periodic messages from Willowwood’s President.

Spring 2024 President’s Message

Dear Friends,

For me, springtime at Willowwood has always been about the daffodils which herald the highly anticipated season in a variety of colors and shapes.  On a recent Arboretum visit I learned of a new species in full bloom which inspired a bit of a treasure hunt in search of a little gem.  It was the unexpected call of “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” that set me on a meandering path providing many wonderful encounters along the way. 

Strolling along I found our always informative Manager of Horticulture, Bruce Crawford, hard at work but willing to pause and regale me with current spring planting plans.  Designing for late spring and summer is in the works and soon a new crop of annuals and tropicals will enhance the Arboretum.  Bruce also mentioned the unique new species of daffodil that was not not-to-be missed.  His capable “partners in crime,” Anthony and Dylan were also on hand to share knowledge about the spring bulb display that was in full bloom around the Tubbs House.  The scilla looked particularly beautiful.  Without a doubt the Tubbs brothers would have viewed the scene with great delight.

Winding my way further through the gardens, the promise of spring was everywhere; green shoots galore poking through the earth, winter jasmine crept up a stone wall and magnolias prepared to put on their seasonal show.

Narcissus romieuxii,
Narcissus romieuxii,

But where oh where was Romeo? Circling back to the rockery, eureka!  Perched innocently alone, there it was, the delicate little Narcissus romieuxii, more commonly known as the Petticoat Hoop Daffodil which is native to Morocco. The soft yellow flower with its widely flared hoop is an early bloomer and the perfect way to invite interest and conversation into any garden landscape.  Have a look at the photo. Perhaps you’ll order a few for yourself next year!!!  In any event, be sure to carve out some time for a spring garden walk at Willowwood.  There is always something new to discover at our charming Arboretum.

In closing, I am reaching the end of my time as President of the Willowwood Foundation.  It has been my great privilege to serve in this capacity, as well as an officer and trustee over the past thirteen years.  The support of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees and the community has meant the world to me!     We are delighted that trustee Kristen Petersen, who has a long and special history with both the Arboretum and the Foundation has agreed to assume the reins of the presidency.

With appreciation and best wishes for a happy spring,

Meryl Carmel

President’s Message Fall 2023

Seward Johnson, La Promenade, 1995 The Seward Johnson Atelier Inc
Seward Johnson, La Promenade, 1995 The Seward Johnson Atelier Inc

Dear Friends of the Willowwood Arboretum,

Autumn is in the air at Willowwood where fall’s finest blooms are complemented by the ten Seward Johnson’s sculptures scattered throughout the arboretum. If you have not yet seen this Living Sculpture Exhibit, be sure to pay a visit before it winds down in November.  A whimsical experience and beautiful gardens await for fantastic fall foliage photos opportunities!  Click here for more information on this beautiful exhibit.

The Willowwood Foundation’s fall fundraiser concert, “Sounds for Sculpture”, added “living sound” to celebrate the Seward Johnson sculpture exhibit on September 10, 2023 at The Willow School.  Internationally renowned jazz vibraphonist, pianist and composer, Christian Tamburr, and his amazing band members: Griffin Fink, Tatum Greenblatt, Carmen Intorre, Jr., and Oscar Perez performed “The Awakening.”  

A lovely musician’s reception was held at Willowwood’s historic Stone Barn after the performance along with an opportunity for guests to tour the sculptures.  

Willow School Workshop
Willow School Workshop

The day after the concert, Willow School students enjoyed a musical workshop led by Christian and his musicians.  Students responded enthusiastically to both the music and the musicians’ questions. At the close of the program, one youngster held up his hand to inquire when the group would be coming back to perform again!  Our sincere thanks to The Willow School staff for providing the beautiful concert venue and assisting to make the “Sounds for Sculpture” fundraiser a success.  

Many thanks to our corporate sponsors below with heartfelt appreciation for their generous support in helping the Willowwood Foundation continue to thrive.  

  • Elberon Development Group
  • Simon Quick Advisors
  • Habba Madaio & Associates LLP
  • Peapack-Gladstone Bank  
Sussex County ARC
Sussex County ARC

The Willowwood Foundation supported another positive event on September 14th, at Willowwood Arboretum.  The Sussex County ARC participated in a Horticultural Therapy program led by Morris County Park Commission staff members Ann Fahey and Gwen Montgomery.  Participants created beautiful floral arrangements and demonstrated that Horticultural Therapy is a wonderful way to bring people of all abilities closer to nature while creating a safe social, educational, and recreational environment. 

For a glimpse at our busy month, check out our photo montage and be sure to carve out some time to visit Willowwood soon.  Wishing you a colorful fall!

With best regards,

Meryl Carmel, President

Willowwood Foundation

Spring 2023 Message

Dear Friends of the Willowwood Arboretum,

I hope you are enjoying the splendor of spring.  Despite our recent whiplash of weather, the blooms have arrived and Willowwood is putting on a splendid spring show. It seems that a new variety of flowering tree and shrub reveals itself each day. Grab your camera, take a walk, and enjoy the serenity that nature provides.

Some exciting news to share regarding an upoming partnership between MCPC and the Seward Johnson Atelier whereby a selection of sculptures will be on display at Willowwood for a period of about four months beginning this July.

In lieu of our Lilac Party for 2023, The Willowwood Foundation will host a most unique fundraiser in conjunction with the Seward Johnson sculpture display. We will host a jazz concert this fall featuring the Christian Tamburr Quintet. This collaborative venture between renowned composer-vibraphonist Christian Tamburr and internationally acclaimed sculptor Seward Johnson will feature The Awakening, “Sounds for Sculpture” inspired by Johnson’s sculptures. The musical performance premier was performed at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club at Lincoln Center.

We are very pleased that the concert will be held in collaboration with The Willow School. Following the concert at The Willow School, attendees are invited for an independent tour of the sculptures at Willowwood Arboretum. Light refreshments will be served. September 10, 2023. Tickets $50.00. Ticket availability through this website after June 1. Stay tuned!

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

Message from Meryl – Oct. 18, 2022

Dear Friends,

Autumn leaves are swirling and we have reached another lovely FALL season at Willowwood. And while members of the Willowwood Foundation Board of Trustees are already busy planning for a spectacular SPRING, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge some “changing of the guard.” We thank trustees Peter Williams and Margo Dana for their years of service as we welcome Olga Christie to our Board. In addition, Leslie Allain, our long time administrator whom many of you know, has now fully retired. Our debt to her is tremendous and we are thrilled that she has joined our board. We are pleased to report that Patti Millar has accepted the position of Foundation Administrator and she has hit the ground running!

You will no doubt meet Patti on May 21, 2023 on the occasion of our long-awaited, newly re-imagined SILVER ANNIVERSARY LILAC PARTY. Save the date for a bash that will appeal to each of your senses as we celebrate spring. Keep your eyes peeled for regular updates in this space and on Instagram.

While your calendar is handy please make note of another unique opportunity, the 7th annual Tubbs lecture slated for April 23 in the Stone Barn.  Tom Molnar, an associate professor at Rutgers will provide an overview of the University’s longtime dogwood breeding program.

The Foundation’s commitment to the glorious vision of the Tubbs Brothers remains stronger than ever as we continues to work closely with Morris County Parks to  support horticultural initiatives, professional internships and staff education, educational programming, and scholarships. Please support our programs and events and be sure to visit the Arboretum, a place of beauty and joy in every season.

 With best wishes,

Meryl Carmel

President Willowwood Foundation