New Jersey: The Frelinghuysen Arboretum
353 E Hanover Ave , Morristown, NJ 07960
The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, a property of 124 acres that was originally the private summer estate of George and Sara Frelinghuysen and known as “Whippany Farm”, became a facility of the Morris County Park Commission (MCPC) in 1969. It serves the public as a resource for horticultural displays, educational horticulture programming, and community events. The Colonial Revival mansion was built in 1891 and the historic estate landscape has been preserved within the core area near the mansion. The site features a large variety of display gardens, woodland walking trails, and a Pinetum.
The conifers at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum are spread throughout the gardens, but the largest concentration is in the Pinetum area in the southwest corner of the property. The Pinetum can be accessed from trails at the right rear of the parking lot, or from paths descending behind the mansion. Lovely walking trails make a circular loop through the woods and meadow, with regular benches to rest and enjoy the views.
Many of the oldest specimens at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum date to the early 1900’s after the Frelinghuysen’s bought the property and constructed the mansion as their summer home. Some plants, such as the large Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’ in front of the mansion, can be identified in old family photographs in the MCPC archives. Matilda Frelinghuysen planned for the site’s transition into an arboretum, in memory of her father, when the property was donated to the MCPC in 1969. Since the property’s transition into the park system, a visitor center (the Haggerty Education Center) has been built and new plantings installed throughout the site. Additional conifers were planted in the gardens around the education center, in the Pinetum, and in the gardens between the parking lot bays.
Currently, as of August 2021, there are 527 total conifers representing 52 individual species and 112 different cultivars and varieties. The collection includes many unusual specimens and some champion trees--the largest of their kind in New Jersey. Each tree is tagged with a black plastic label that gives its botanical name, common name, family group, and origin. The plant records are maintained in IrisBG, a database designed for botanical collections. The plant records are an important resource for developing maps and tours of the conifer collection at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.
Soon after the property was donated to the MCPC, a group of dedicated volunteers established the Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum. The Friends are proud to partner with the MCPC to support the arboretum, and to attract area residents who learn to appreciate horticulture and the natural world through a range of educational programs.