FAR HILLS NJ - On Saturday, May 13th, two private gardens in Far Hills will participate in the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program, welcoming the public beginning at 10 a.m. An additional Family Time event, “Paint a Birdhouse Gourd for Mom!” will take place at 10:30 a.m. (registrations requested). The Open Day is rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Admission is $7 per garden; children 12 & under free. Call 1-888-842-2442, or visit www.opendaysprogram.org for more information. Additional Northern New Jersey Open Days take place on the following dates: June 10 in Allendale, Closter, Mahwah, River Edge, and River Vale; June 11 in East Orange and Montclair; June 17 in Stockton; September 9 in Far Hills, Randolph, and Pottersville; and September 17 in Nutley.

                Gardens open on the May 13th tour include:

  • The Hay Honey Farm, 130 Stevens Lane, Far Hills; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – the extensive gardens of the Hay Honey Farm lie nestled between rolling hills along the North Branch of the Raritan River. The transition from cattle farm to garden began in 1989, and while Black Angus cattle still graze the nearby hayfields, honeybees have become the only ‘livestock’ allowed within the gates. Over the years, a wide variety of plant material, including hundreds of trees and shrubs, has been carefully added to the landscape in a naturalistic manner, with a respect for the history and topography of the site, and consistent with the broader surrounding atmosphere of Pleasant Valley. The plant collections reflect the diverse interests of the owners and the resident horticulturists, and show the results of a long-term vision and dedicated horticultural attention to plant care. Garden areas created near the homes include a dwarf conifer/spring bulb garden, a large walled perennial border, hosta gardens, a native meadow, and a large kitchen garden. Year-round springs feed a small stream, which originates in the wild garden, and flows through a collection of rhododendron and companion wild flowers and woodland plants. The opposing bank features a flowering shrub walk, where more full-sun-loving assortments of lilacs, weigelas, and viburnums are flanked by an impressive Dawn Redwood and other specimen trees. Paths through the fields and woodlands highlight collections of unusual maples, oaks, firs, hollies, and other hardy trees and shrubs, many seldom seen outside botanical gardens. Featured in the recently published Gardens of the Garden State and designed for interest in every season, the gardens will surely bring the visitor a sense of calm connection to the beauty of nature.
  • Stone House Garden, Far Hills; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. – all the buildings and walls are of old Pennsylvania stone, the paths and terrace are of Vermont schist. One goes through the beech hedge into the courtyard, planted with low-growing Rhus aromatica and Spanish bluebells. The path, which encircles the house, leads through the medallion garden to the crescent border, planted for spring bloom and fall color, past the kitchen garden, terrace, and Mimi's garden, down stone steps to the bog, which, in the spring, hosts an explosion of primula candelabra, fern, and skunk cabbage. Follow signs to park at the Hay Honey Farm; volunteers will direct visitors to this property.

At 10:30 a.m., there will be a Family Time event, “Paint a Birdhouse Gourd for Mom!” Volunteers at the Hay Honey Farm will help children paint birdhouse gourds grown on the property. While the paint dries, the group will take a walk through the gardens and talk about some of the interesting things found. This program is appropriate for children ages three and up. Adults must stay with the children in their care at all times. There is no additional fee for this program, but registration is requested and space is limited. Call 1(888) 842-2442 or email opendays@gardenconservancy.org to register.

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All Open Days gardens are featured in the 2017 Open Days Directory; a soft-cover book that includes detailed driving directions and vivid garden descriptions written by their owners, plus a complimentary ticket for admission to one private garden. The directory includes garden listings in seventeen states and costs $27.95 including shipping. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call the Garden Conservancy toll-free at 1-888-842-2442 to order with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express, or send a check or money order to: the Garden Conservancy, P.O. Box 219, Cold Spring, NY 10516. Discount admission tickets are available as well through advanced mail order.

The Garden Conservancy introduced the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created. The Open Days program is America’s only national private garden-visiting program, and is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers nationwide. For more information, a complete schedule of Open Days, or to suggest gardens for inclusion in the program, visit the Garden Conservancy online at www.gardenconservancy.org.