Monday, March 12, 2018

Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located in Summit, New Jersey. It has an interesting history. The grounds were once a place of resistance during the Revolutionary War. An eighteenth-century farmer used it as a signal station to warn General Washington of the movement of British over the Hudson River against his encampment in Morristown.

The arboretum of today is the product of three families. In 1889, John Horner Wisner built the country estate known as the "Wisner House" that still stands on the property. It's used as a venue for art exhibits.

In 1916, the Reeves family bought the house and expanded the daffodil collection, which is impressive! If you visit in mid-April, there is a Daffodil Day which is perfect for viewing them in all of their glory. The Reeves also added an azalea garden. 

In 1968, the Reed family became the new owners. They added the herb garden and six acres of woodland trails.

The arboretum is open daily from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Admission is free, but a suggested donation of $5.00 is appreciated. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Rutger's Garden

Rutger's Garden, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is a 180-acre garden which is comprised of a series of horticultural collections. The oldest dates back to 1927. Some of these include an American Hollies  Collection, Shrub Collection, Shade Tree Collection, Ornamental Tree Collection, and a Bamboo Forest.

There are plenty of walking paths, perennials, shrubs, exotic flowers, and even a 92-acre pond for visitors to enjoy.

The garden is open daily from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is free. (In case you're wondering, income for the garden is generated through the rental of the pavilion and a log cabin for events. And also by donations.)

Before I go, I'd like to share a new book trailer video for my recently-released book, Don't Feed the Elephant. This one was done by ePublishingeXperts, the illustrator of the book, and features animation of the illustrations and a narration done by me. If you've never heard my voice, you might find it interesting ! 

Friday, February 23, 2018

New Jersey State Botanical Gardens

The New Jersey State Botanical Gardens, located in Ringwood, New Jersey, are part of Ringwood State Park. The history of the place is fascinating.

The property once belonged to Francis Lynde Stetson (1846-1920), a prominent New York lawyer. He built a country estate called, "Skyland Farms." This included a mansion with 30 outbuildings, gardens, and a lawn that served as a 9-hole golf course.  Stetson entertained such prominent people as Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and JP Morgan.

In 1922, Skylands was sold to Clarence McKenzie Lewis (1877-1959) who set out to make it a botanical showcase. The original Stetson home was torn down and the current Tudor mansion was built.

In 1966, the state of New Jersey purchased it, and in 1984, the governor designated the central 96 acres surrounding the house as the state's official botanical garden.

Today, there are several specialty  gardens visitors can view. These include the Annual, Perennial Border, Crab Apple Allee, Wildflower, Lilac, Peony, Summer Garden, Magnolia Walk, Winter Garden, and the Moraine Garden pictured above which contains deposits of rock left behind by retreating glaciers.

The gardens are open daily from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Admission is free, although on summer Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, there is a parking fee:  $5.00 for cars from New Jersey, $7.00 for those from out-of-state.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Orchid Range at Duke Farms

Duke Farms, located in Hillsborough, New Jersey, is a 2,470-acre estate that was established in 1893 by James Buchanan Duke, the founder of Duke Power and the American Tobacco Company.

The Orchid Range is a glass house that displays more than 1400 different kinds of orchids. It dates back to the 1930s and 40s when the Duke family cultivated the flowers. Today, there can be as many as 5500 orchids in the range.

Most of the Duke Farm property is hidden from the public. When James' daughter, Doris, died in 1992, she requested that the property be used to protect endangered species of flora and fauna. Visitors can still explore 20 miles of trails spread out over 1,000 acres. There are many waterfalls, lakes, and rolling hills to enjoy.

The Orchid Range is open from 8:30-4:30 every day except Wednesday. Admission is free. 

Before I go, I'd like to let you know that I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway of the Kindle version of my book, Don't Feed the Elephant. It's open to US residents only. If you'd like to enter to win one of 20 copies, go here.


Friday, February 9, 2018

Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum

Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum is on the campus of Georgian Court University in Lakewood Township, New Jersey. Originally, it was the landscaped park for the winter home of George Jay Gould, son of railroad tycoon, Jay Gould.

In 1896 architect, Bruce Price, was hired to create a replica of an English estate from the Georgian period. Since the New Jersey soil isn't great for planting native English plants, 5,000 cartloads of soil were brought in. Four major gardens were created:  the Italian Garden, Sunken Garden, Formal Garden, and Japanese Garden.

In 1924, the Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate and it became the campus of what is currently Georgian Court University.  An additional Wellness Garden was added by students in 2008. The place is a National Historic Landmark.

The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greenwood Gardens

Greenwood Gardens, located in Shorthills, New Jersey, is a lovely gem that contains 28 acres of Italiente garden terraces, grottoes, fountains, moss-covered paths, ornamental trees, and flowers. It looks like a classic European garden, but it is relatively new.

In 1906, real-estate auctioneer, Joseph P. Day, purchase the property as a family home. He spent the next twenty years developing the estate.  It was much later, in 2002, that the property was opened as a public garden.

The garden is open from May through October, although there are some classes and events held at the site during winter months. Hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Cost of admission is $10.00 for adults. Children under 12 are admitted free.

Before I go, I'd like to share some good news. My first middle grade book, Bubba and Squirt's Big Dig to China, will be released September 4, 2018. Here's the cover:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three Free Gardening Apps

Today we have a special guest post from Wendy at My Seed Needs. She shares some free apps that can help you develop your gardening skills. (If you need some seeds for your spring planting which is right around the corner, please check out her site.)

Photo site/credit

 Free Apps To Help Enhance Your Gardening Skills
Modern gardeners have it easier than ever to plant their flower gardens, vegetable, gardens, and herb gardens. The know-how may not have passed down to you from your ancestors, but you have something they didn’t. The internet.
Do you love flowers but are not sure what to plant or when? Do you even know what your flower seed needs are? Help is as close as your smartphone or tablet. There are tons of free apps out there that will tell you what plants will thrive in your area.

You may be new to gardening, or maybe you are skilled and want to incorporate new plants into your garden. Here are some things to consider while choosing a gardening app:
     What plants thrive well in your area
     How much time do you have to dedicate to the garden? Do you need low maintenance plants?
     How much sun and water will your garden get naturally?
     How to identify signs of plant disease or infestation.
The following three apps are some of our favorites. There are plenty out there, so look around and see what works best for you.

Permaculture Garden App

This free app is designed to help anywhere. Gardeners from the United States to the UK find what they need with this app. The fun thing about Permaculture is it’s landscape design abilities. Use your own information to design your garden and see how your plans square up with the plants you are planning to use. 


This app has been around for a while, and it keeps getting better. It is free (that is always good) and it is very user-friendly. The geo-mapping makes it easy to select plants that you are incorporating into your garden. The screenshot makes sharing with other members easy and fun. This app makes you feel as if you are part of a garden community.

Garden Answers Plant Identifier

This app is so cool! You can snap a photo of a plant you like and it instantly identifies it for you! It has a library of over 20,000 plants. It also offers gardening tips, troubleshooting for gardening problems and it has built-in features to make it all effortless.


As the winter months drag on, your gardening sites are exposed. If you did not properly prepare them before the season turned, be sure to take the time to do it before you plant.
Gardening takes nutrients from the soil. You will need to till the ground well and add nutrients or fertilizer to the soil before you plant again. If you are preparing a new site (for the first time) check the site for sunlight and irrigation. Just because you want flowers in a spot, if it is not suited for plant life (if nothing is growing there now, that's a tip) you either have to select a different site or plant seeds that will grow in those conditions.
If you planted last year and gave up when illness or infestation overcame the site, you must be sure that the diseased plants are no longer in the soil. When you till, remove any old plant life. If you did this before your season ended and added mulch, you are probably fine. But, watch for signs of any disease that you fought before and get to it early.

No matter what you plant, you will need a little help. That’s what these free apps give you. A tip on what is going wrong and how to fix it. That’s all you need. The power is in your hands.