Sunday, October 21, 2007

Field Trip with Mom -- Cross Estate Gardens and Willowwood

In honor of Mom's birthday back in August, we planned a day of doing things she really enjoys -- visiting gardens and spending time together. Of course, since we're such busy people, our first day free was 13 Oct. (hence the warm clothes--it was a chilly day, unlike the balmy weather we've had lately). Our top two choices were relatively local to Mom: Cross Estate Gardens in Bernardsville, NJ, and Willowwood Arboretum in Chester, NJ.

We stopped at Cross Estate first, taking a tiny hike from the parking lot to the actual house. Cross Estate is actually part of our National Park System (and FREE), so you should go see it if you're a taxpaying American. It's our land, after all.

Mom was enamored of this giant silver maple in the back of the house (view is from the rear of the field in the back of the house).

There she is, giving us a bit of perspective.

We walked around to the front entrance of the gardens and were greeted by a long pergola draped with wisteria. It probably looks amazing in the spring when in bloom.

It's longer than it looks.

You wouldn't think so many flowers would be blooming in October, but there were plenty of colorful blooms on display for us.

Even irises.

Lots of lavender Russian sage.

You probably can't tell from the photos, but there were bees everywhere. All different kinds, too, from yellow jackets and bumblebees (one in the center of the photo below) to wasps.

Always the teacher, Mom must have said, "Look at it!" about a hundred times. "Make sure you take a photo of this. People should see this!"

"OK, Mom."

"Can you believe these colors?"

After enjoying all the colorful flowers at Cross Estate Gardens, we programmed Mom's GPS to find Willowwood. Unfortunately, we had to take a pretty big detour, but the path led us through some pretty swanky estates. I'm always amazed at the affluence in New Jersey. What do these people do? Or, are they "old money?" Probably a mix of self-made folks and the perpetually wealthy. Regardless, they have lovely homes (as much as we could see from the road) and land.

Willowwood Arboretum is on the land formerly owned by the Tubbs brothers. There are gardens extending out to the road from the front of the Tubbs' house as well as hiking trails with rare plants and trees in the rear of the house. All told, 130 acres are available for exploring.

First thing first, though. We had to use the restroom (go before you go to Cross Estate Gardens because there are no services there). Decorating the outside of the restroom wall of the shingled barn was this amazing staghorn fern.

180 degrees from the staghorn fern was this trumpet vine with blooms that had to extend at least a foot!

Mom was happily surprised that the Tubbs brothers had planted redwood trees in their garden.

Walking around the back of the house, we saw Pan's garden (and more pergolas).

We also witnessed a giant nest. It must have been a squirrel condo. It was at least 3 feet square.

There were many plants sporting colored berries. Mainly, we saw the usual red berries.

But we also were nearly knocked over by these vibrant, sapphire blue berries from Japan.

Mom and I broke from the other trails and walked to the end of the property to a tree-line walk filled with yellow berries.

To our right was a very large meadow, but since it was bow-hunting season (not to mention deer tick season), I suggested that we keep to the path.

Did I mention that we also saw plants with white berries and red stalks that almost reminded us of capillaries?

Finally, we headed back to the cottage garden and out to the car to decide where to have lunch.

We drove into Chester to discover that we were smack in the middle of the town's Apple Harvest Festival!

There, we witnessed a marching fife and drum corps as they played on every block along the main drag.

We eventually had lunch, but the highlight of the day was spending it with my Mom.

How do you spend time with your Mom?


Real estate key boxes said...

The pictures are great deb!
The gardens look magnificent, i love gardens, that is so nice of you to take her out, and even though it was chilly, it looked like it was a beautiful day!


Deb Schiff said...

Thanks, Barb.