The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is a botanical garden in Morristown, New Jersey and the headquarters of the Morris County Parks Commission. The arboretum features thematic collections of flora, ranging from summer and spring-blooming shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials to shade trees, fall fruit and foliage and a unique garden called the ‘promising plants garden’ which is full of underused plants by growers, nurseries, and breeders. The arboretum also features a gently sloping manicured grassy lawn where outdoor concerts are held in the summer months and a network of walking and hiking trails, including a Braille Nature Trail.
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum began life as the home garden of Matilda Frelinghuysen, granddaughter of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State under President Chester A. Arthur. After being passed down through two generations of Frelinghuysens, Matilda Frelinghuysen ca,e to bequeath the home and began plans for turning the estate into an arboretum in 1964. Upon her death, the land and house was dedicated to the people of Morris County for the use as a public arboretum and became the Frelinghuysen Arboretum in 1971.
Today, in addition to the beautiful gardens, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is also home to the Haggerty Education Center, which was opened in 1989 and features a multi-purpose auditorium and two classrooms in order to provide horticultural educational programs for the public. The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is also home for various regional plant societies.
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum feature a variety of gardens, plant collections, trees, and shrubs, including ornamental grasses, summer, and spring-blooming shrubs, fall fruit and foliage, and shade trees, including beeches, crabapples, magnolias, bald cypresses, willows, and flowering cherries. The fun-filled Kathryn A. Porter ‘Branching Out!’ Garden was established as part of a spring after-school and summer program where children between the ages of five and 13 work in the garden to learn more about the role of plants in cooking and crafts. Students grow herbs, flowers and vegetables to take home and cook with.
In front of the manor house, where Matilda Frelinghuysen lived, are beautifully manicured sloping lawns, known as the Great Lawn. Echoing the style of an English country estate landscape, this vast expanse of grass is used to host outdoor concerts in the warmer months.
Some parts of the arboretum have huge swaths of woods only which visitors can explore on walking paths and hiking trails. The gardens are intersected by a network of nature and horse trails known as the Patriots' Path, including a Braille Nature Trail designed for hands-on exploration and located just on the Great Lawn.
The Haggerty Education Center
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum also acts as an educational and regional center for a variety of horticultural activities and programs, including special guided tours, after-school and summer programs, and special events throughout the year. The Center is also home to a library with an extensive collection of botanical literature.
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum host a wide range of events and functions throughout the year for the whole family, ranging from photo scavenger hunts, arts and crafts activities and Sunday Garden Tours to Flowers Galore Tea and Tours, Grow Your Groceries and cooking demonstrations.
Children's Programs at the Arboretum
The Friends of The Frelinghuysen Arboretum offer regular educational programs for children from toddlers through junior high school. Programs include the hands-on, “Branching Out!” gardening program where young learners are encouraged to get dirt under their fingernails and learn all about growing herbs, flowers and vegetables to eat. The Arboretum offers a range of curricula-based home-school classes and programs with hands-on, science and botany- focused experiences, along with nature photo scavenger hunts, Family Discovery Backpacks, field trips for schools, cub and scout troops, and girl scouts.
The Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is located at 353 E Hanover Avenue in Morristown and is open to the public from 8:00 am until dusk daily, throughout the year. Matilda’s Café serves a menu of healthy meals, snacks, and beverages during the park’s opening hours.
353 E Hanover Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960, website, Phone: 973-326-7603
Back to: Things to Do in NJ