Category: Message from our President

Periodic messages from Willowwood’s President.

Spring Holds a Special Joy – 4/19/22

Sunday Daffodils

I have just enjoyed back to back visits to Willowwood so as not to miss a single new thing. While a stop at the arboretum is a delightful experience in any season, spring holds a special joy. Although the Bloom Report provides a wonderful way to “stay in touch” it is hard to resist snapping photos of the daffodil field, blue bells, magnolias and more to share with family and friends. The daffs alone are sunshine for the soul.

Be sure to put a visit on your spring “to do” list and also make note of the date for next year’s Lilac Party. After a three year hiatus our Trustees are hard at work creating an exciting event for Sunday, May 21, 2023. As we gather once more among the Lilac Blooms we will have a great deal to celebrate.

On behalf of the Trustees, thank you for your continued interest and support of the very special Willowwood Arboretum.

Happy Spring!

Meryl Carmel
President, Willowwood Foundation

2022 Lilac Party CANCELLED

After much soul searching the Willowwood Foundation Board of Trustees has made the difficult decision to cancel our annual Lilac Party. We do so in this time of uncertainty out of the utmost concern for the continued safety of our guests and staff.

Please know that in the months ahead our committee will be hard at work planning with an eye toward creating a spectacular Lilac Party for 2023.

Be on the lookout for the Spring Bloom Report to gauge the best time to stroll among the Lilacs on your own. Take pictures and enjoy the beauty of the Arboretum and our natural world!

Thank you for your continued support of Willowwood Arboretum!!! Can’t wait to safely celebrate Spring and stroll among the lilacs with you once more.

Meryl Carmel, President, Willowwood Foundation

Autumn Welcome

How is it possible that 2021’s spring and summer have come and gone? Despite lingering Covid 19 concerns, we are happily welcoming the nascent signs of autumn at Willowwood. 

I am so grateful that the Arboretum continues to provide the public with such a beautiful and comforting oasis as Willowwood and my appreciation extends to the dedicated staff of the Morris County Parks Commission. They always go above and beyond expectations to keep Willowwood looking its best.

On the staff front, there’s some very exciting news. I am delighted to announce that Bruce Crawford, past Director of Rutgers Gardens and current State Program Leader in Public and Home Horticulture with Rutgers Cooperative Extension, has joined the Morris County Park Commission as Manager of Horticulture. Bruce is a familiar face in the gardening community and we look forward to his leadership and expertise moving into the fall and winter months and as planning begins anew for 2022. 

In closing, for those who cannot visit on a regular basis, enjoy the latest BLOOM report and follow the Arboretum on Instagram. The regular pictorial updates are so inspiring! And as always the Foundation Board of Trustees thanks you for following Covid protocols when visiting in person and for continuing to support garden restoration and development at the Arboretum.

With best wishes for a safe and happy fall season,
Meryl Carmel, President

Summer Update 2021

Dear Friends of Willowwood,

I am perched in my home office enjoying the beauty of our home garden just outside my window. My blue lace hydrangeas are in their glory. Doesn’t it seem like the lush landscape of June is even more spectacular than ever this summer? And visitors continue to find Willowwood to be as resplendent and welcoming a refuge as ever. I do hope that your time permits a relaxing visit one day soon. 

As I am becoming acquainted with my new role as President of the Foundation, I wish to thank you all for your support. I extend my special thanks to Brace Krag for accepting the role of vice president and to Leslie Allain for her helpful guidance.

There are a few pieces of news to share. First, I regret to inform you of the recent resignation of our friend and treasurer Stathis Andris who served the Board for the past fifteen years. We owe him great thanks for his tenure on the Board and deep appreciation for his diligent guidance and support. I am delighted to let you know that Trustee Joe Arvay has agreed to serve as Treasurer.

At our recent meeting we discussed efforts to raise funds for a memorial bench in honor of Becky Terry. Thus far fundraising by her friends has raised 50% of the assciated cost. In addition, It has been decided that several Father Fiala Lilacs will be purchased in memorial to other former trustees. This is an ongoing project and planting is anticipated for Spring 2020.

In addition, there are several updates on the arboretum staffing front. We have been notified of the resignation of Mark Inzano, Manager of Horticulture, who served Willowwod for the past five years. MCPC will begin a search for his replacement.

Last month, Brace, Leslie, and I were able to celebrate the wonderful thirty-five plus year career of gardener extraordinaire Kriste Shaw- she was a fixture at Willowwood. Her dedicated care of the Conservatory and the Cottage Gardens made them special. Thyra Kelly, has been promoted from Assistant Gardener to the position of Gardener by MCPC. A few positions remain open including assistant gardener, gardener, and seasonal groundskeeper. If perhaps you have a candidate in mind please direct them to the Park website:

That’s all for now. I hope that this finds you and your loved ones doing well and ready to welcome and enjoy a happy Fourth of July 2021 and a wonderful summer.

With my best always,


Meet Our New President

Brace and Meryl

It is with great pleasure that I write to introduce Meryl Carmel as the new Willowwood Foundation President and Joseph Arvay DMD who has the difficult job as replacement for past Treasurer and long time Trustee Stathis Andris to whom we owe many thanks for his financial diligence and guidance.

I will assume the responsibilities of Vice President, insuring a smooth transition as we move forward.

Meryl is an author, historian, horticulture enthusiast and is passionate about Willowwood and its History. Her collaborative personality, tenure with the Willowwood Foundation and big picture thinking are a perfect fit for the role of President.

Joe also brings many years with the Willowwood Foundation Board, a huge passion for horticulture and an analytical style that perfectly suits the role of Treasurer.

With both Meryl and Joe’s institutional knowledge and commitment to the Willowwood Arboretum, the Foundation’s leadership remains in very capable, committed hands. We look forward to the resumption of our regular activities: The Lilac Party (May 15, 2022), Tubbs Lecture (April 24, 2022), Mothers Day Lilac Sale and the Autumn Open House in 2022. Thank you for your continued support of the Foundation and interest of the Willowwood Arboretum.

Warm Regards, Brace Krag