Rhododendron Display Garden for the East Coast
by Velma Haag, Cranford, N.J.
An invitation to be a Founder of the Union County Rhododendron Display Garden to be located in the Watchung reservation, New Jersey is extended to all who enjoy beautiful gardens and especially to the rhododendron enthusiast. This garden will be planted as a joint project of the Union County Rhododendron Committee, New Jersey Chapter of ARS, and the Union County Park Commission. The Committee will promote public interest, select and provide the plants, and design the garden. The Commission will provide the site, prepare the ground, and plant and maintain the garden.
The site for the garden is located in the Watchung Hills along W. R. Tracy Drive. It is on a northerly slope, comprising both open and wooded areas. The landscape design covers a four acre site, with more adjacent land available as the garden grows. The woodland area has many large oak and tulip trees. A shelter and rest area with ample parking space is already provided; and a museum, located nearby, is open all year and provides facilities for a flower show.
The Union County Park System is recognized nationally for the fine gardens and recreational facilities which they offer to the residents of the county. The Azalea Garden, located in Warinanco Park, Elizabeth is noted in the Azalea Handbook published by the American Horticulture Society, and in Dr. Donald Wyman's book of Arboretums and Botanical Gardens of North America. It was planned by Olmsted Brothers and now contains two and one-half acres of bed area. It presently contains 3,500 plants of 45 varieties in mass groupings: Species, Kurumes, Ghents, Indian, Korean, kaempferi, mollis, Pontica, Matvatica, Vuykiana, Rhombica, and Phoenicieum. The blooming period extends from early April to mid-June.
Other outstanding gardens in the Park System include: the Shakespeare Gardens, the Iris Garden and the Daffodil Plantation, each nationally known. Other gardens which are gaining in importance are the Cornus Arboretum, The Peony and the Hemerocallis Collections. They are more fully described in the 'Horticultural Features in the Union County Park System.'
The Rhododendron Display Garden has been designed by John J. Jennings, noted landscape architect. Mr. Jennings was schooled at Kew Gardens where he studies in all departments under the provisions of a five year scholarship. His experiences in this country include eight years with Bobbink and Atkins, Rutherford, New Jersey where he did secretarial work and landscape design. Also, he installed and operated the landscape department for F and F Nurseries, located at Springfield, New Jersey at that time. Fourteen years ago he opened his own office and has since designed many residential, industrial and commercial gardens. One such private garden is that of William T. Gotelli, whose collection of dwarf conifers is the most extensive in the world, irrespective of any botanical garden anywhere. Mr. Jennings is the author of a book 'Complete Home Landscape'. We are indeed fortunate to have the interest of one so talented and experienced.
The Rhododendron Display Garden is planned to present mass groupings along Tracy Drive where the general public may enjoy the beautiful display by casual observation. Azaleas will be included in this section of the garden as well as the rhododendron which will grow in the more open areas. Paths will lead into the woodland where the plants requiring more shade will be located. There will be areas in the woodland that will be somewhat cleared for a large group of plants. The more choice plants and the smaller varieties will also be planted here for the enjoyment of those who wish to study the plants or view them at close range.