ISSUE 44  |  Holiday Prep

Required Reading: Gardens of the Garden State

November 04, 2014 7:30 PM

BY Jeanne Rostaing

Those of us with ties to New Jersey (full disclosure: yes, I live in Brooklyn, but I was born in NJ and some recent sleuthing on Ancestry has revealed forebears who apparently arrived before the place was even a state) are sick to death of “New Jersey” being the punchline of millions of cheesy jokes. So I was very happy to learn that there is a new book that not only refutes all those clich├ęs about toxic fumes and armpits, it also makes an extremely strong case for New Jersey as a place of sophisticated taste and spectacular beauty.  

Gardens of the Garden State by Nancy Berner and Susan Lowry is a collection of essays about 29 public and private gardens all over the state.  The variety of the gardens is impressive and speaks to the diversity of the topography found in the state which is the fifth smallest in the nation yet boasts rolling farmland, mountains, lakes, rivers, seashore, swamps, pine barrens, rocky ridges, and stony hills. 

Photography by Michelle Slatalla.

Above:  The essays about each garden are brief but include details such as the history, the designers, the most distinguishing features and, of course, the plants.  The book is laid out geographically, starting with gardens in the north and moving south. Descriptions are lively and engaging and must surely reflect the joy the authors took in exploring all these beautiful places.   

Above: The book’s photographs by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls are lovely and effectively expand the often brief text. 

Above: The Hay, Honey Farm in Far Hills, NJ is a former cattle ranch on the north branch of the Raritan River.



Above: Lily pond at Jardin du Buis in Pottersville, NJ is surrounded by unclipped boxwood Buxus sinica var. “Justin Brouwers.”

Above: For more on Andrea Filippone’s vegetable garden at Jardin du Buis, see our recent post: A Deer Proof Edible Garden.

Above: The former home of the founder of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair, NJ overlooks a dazzling spring display.  This public garden, the largest iris garden in the country, has 26 beds and boasts 100,000 blooms. 

Above: In Tewksbury Township, at Bird Haven Farm “perennials are interspersed with vegetables in the exuberant garden,” Berner and Lowry write.

Above: The garden at the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse in North Wildwood, NJ is protected from ocean winds by a screen of Japanese black pine trees.

Above: Gardens of the Garden State is available $35.71 from Amazon.

For another recent garden book from Monacelli Press, take a look at our post on Gardens in Detail. And browse our archives; no one has reviewed more New Garden Books than us this year.