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New Jersey Public Gardens and Arboreta To Receive Legislative Recognition on October 16, 2013
MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ: Garden State Gardens Consortium, a non-profit organization whose members include 22 New Jersey public gardens and arboreta will receive recognition from the New Jersey Senate and the New Jersey Assembly on the occasion of their 5th anniversary.
New Jersey Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, (R - Somerset, Hunterdon, Mercer and Middlesex) who was selected as the “2013 Legislator of the Year” in the Senate by the Constitutional Officers Association of New Jersey, will present a joint Resolution from the New Jersey Senate and the New Jersey Assembly on Wednesday, October 16 at 10:30 a.m. to the members of the Garden State Gardens Consortium at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township.
“The members of the Garden State Gardens Consortium deserve much credit for their commitment to sharing New Jersey’s beautiful public gardens and arboreta with the public,” said Senator Bateman. “The consortium’s success over these past five years is evidenced by the countless residents who have visited its members’ gardens and learned of their significant place in the state’s culture and identity.”
In Autumn, 2005 a small group of public garden and media professionals met to discuss how they could better promote the beautiful public gardens and arboreta of New Jersey. They were Jim Avens, Manager of Horticulture for the Somerset County Park Commission, Bruce Crawford, Director of the Rutgers Gardens at Rutgers University, Lesley Parness, Superintendent of Horticultural Education for the Morris County Park Commission and Tom Castronovo, Executive Editor and Publisher of the Gardener News.
Following up in the spring of 2006, Lesley Parness put out a statewide invitation to many of New Jersey’s public gardens and arboreta to attend a meeting at The Frelinghuysen Arboretum. This meeting was held on May 19, 2006 and the ideas generated there sparked the interest of the numerous attendees. The group continued to meet until the Garden State Gardens Consortium name was chosen and, with a seed grant from the New Jersey Committee of the Garden Club of America, incorporated on October 30, 2008. On February 17, 2009, the Garden State Gardens Consortium received their tax exempt status. 
The organization, whose mission is to increase public awareness of and appreciation for New Jersey’s public gardens by promoting their horticultural, educational, historic and artistic value and to facilitate the collaboration of allied professionals in order to promote public garden visitation, stewardship and support, was incorporated in 2008.
Membership in Garden State Gardens has continued to grow. Currently 22 public gardens and arboreta are members. Membership criteria includes that the garden be open to the public; the garden functions as an aesthetic and/or educational display and/or for research purposes; the garden maintains plant records; the garden has at least one professional staff member (paid or unpaid); garden visitors can identify plants through labels, guide maps or other interpretive materials; that the organization is a non-profit entity and that horticulture is central to their mission.
Garden State Gardens members participate as a group at numerous garden shows, maintain a website ( and a Facebook page. A 1 hour long PowerPoint presentation about the public gardens and arboreta of New Jersey can be scheduled for groups looking for an entertaining and informative talk by contacting the webmaster at the website. 
We have accomplished a great deal in just 5 years,” said Lesley Parness, current President of the Garden State Gardens Consortium. “And yet there is still far more to do. Over 1 million guests visited our member gardens in 2012. Whether for gardening ideas, a class, special event, or simply a quiet walk, New Jersey’s public gardens and arboreta are important cultural resources and valuable tourism attributes. We greatly appreciate this recognition by the New Jersey Senate and Assembly brought to us today by Senator Bateman.”
The following 22 public gardens and arboreta are currently members of the Garden State Gardens Consortium:
  • Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center, Far Hills, NJ
  • Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve at Medford Leas, Medford, NJ
  • Branch Brook Park, Newark, NJ
  • Leonard J. Buck Garden, Far Hills, NJ
  • Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum at Georgian Court University, Lakewood, NJ
  • Colonial Park Gardens, Somerset, NJ
  • The Cross Estate Gardens, Bernardsville
  • Richard W. DeKorte Park, Lyndhurst, NJ
  • Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown, NJ
  • Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ
  • The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morristown, NJ
  • Greater Newark Conservancy, Newark, NJ
  • Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills, NJ
  • Laurelwood Arboretum, Wayne, NJ
  • Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton, New Jersey
  • New Jersey State Botanical Garden, Ringwood, NJ
  • Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Upper Montclair, NJ
  • Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit, NJ
  • Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Thielke Arboretum, Glen Rock NJ
  • Van Vleck House and Garden, Montclair, NJ
  • Willowwood Arboretum, Far Hills, NJ