Garden Diary - March 2020

If you have any comments, observations, or questions about what you read here, remember you can always Contact Me

All content included on this site such as text, graphics and images is protected by U.S and international copyright law.
The compilation of all content on this site is the exclusive property of the site copyright holder.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020: I was filling out my garden journal and happened to read the earlier entries for this date. May 26, 2018. That was when my friend Joan and I went to two Open Days gardens in New Hope - Gardens at Half Moon with wonderful, mature, rare trees both deciduous and evergreen, and Paxson Hill Nursery with gardens that just went on and on. Complete with a pleasant lunch at the charming restaurant Joan found for us. A very good day.

How our lives have changed, from covid-19. No sitting together in a car and driving off, no open gardens, no restaurant meals, just no, no, no, no. We can but hope those days will return.


Public Gardens to Visit in the Days of Covid-19

Friday, 20 March 2020

UPDATE: State parks and gardens have been closed to visitors.
County facilities may be allowing visitors to use their open air trails.
Check on-line or call ahead to confirm the situation before visiting.

Covid-19 has changed lives, world wide. We are not yet being asked to become hermits, sequestered away from other people. But we're learning new terms and phrases, such as social distancing and shelter in place. Like many other people I have been prepping. It is acceptable to leave home to buy groceries, obtain necessary medication. At the same time try to stay at least 6 feet from other people whether they are strangers, friends, or family. It is alright to go for a walk - for exercise, to walk a dog, to get fresh air - as long as you maintain the social distancing of 6 feet.

The world is changing. Announcements are rapidly showing up on my e-mail. Lone Eagle Brewing in Flemington, New Jersey will deliver beer to my home, with a $50 minimum order for my zone. The veterinarian for my cats offers two ways to avoid the waiting room. Either wait in our car and call to tell us you are here. As soon as a room opens they will call you directly into that room. Alternatively, they offer to take your pet from your car, then perform the exam and vaccinations while you wait in your car. Frenchtown Pharmacy will allow you to phone in for prescription and over the counter supplies. Pay by credit card, also over the phone. Then - when you pull up in a dedicated parking spot in front of their building, phone and they will run everything out to your car.

It is now officially spring. Maple trees are starting to flower (end of maple syrup season) and I've seen a couple of magnolias in bloom too. Time to visit public gardens - but wait! This activity has also been upended by COVID-19. Some places are completely closed down. Even those which are not totally shut down have made changes. But going for a walk on in gardens or on hiking trails while observing social distancing is good both physically and mentally.

Here is the information I have acquired at this point. As I learn more, if there are changes, I will update this entry.

New York Botanical Garden

Reminder: Facebook Watch Party here Enjoy a video tour of The New York Botanical Garden's 18th annual orchid exhibition, The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham's Kaleidoscope, via a Facebook Watch Party on Wednesday, March 25, 12 p.m. EDT. Marc Hachadourian, NYBG's Director of Glasshouse Horticulture and Senior Curator of Orchids, will take viewers through the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, highlighting the bold and colorful creations of lifestyle icon and floral designer to the stars Jeff Leatham, designer of this year's exhibition. NYBG's virtual guests will be able to engage with Hachadourian and fellow plant lovers in a live chat.

The New York Botanical Garden has been closed through April 30, both buildings and the grounds, to support New York City's effort to contain the spread of covid-19. They have made a wonderful work-around. To quote from their announcement: "During challenging times, the power of plants connects people and provides inspiration more than ever. While the Garden's gates may be closed temporarily, our virtual gates are wide open. We invite our NYBG community near and far to stay connected through our collections' vast digital resources, creative educational programs, and many other online offerings. As spring unfolds, we will bring you the brightness and color of the season, a reminder of how the natural world brings us joy.

"As spring unfolds, NYBG at Home will showcase the brightness and color of the seasonal spectacle. We're kicking it off today with a first day of spring video walk around NYBG's grounds. The video can be viewed here. Through NYBG at Home, plant lovers can find out about upcoming virtual events such as a Facebook Watch Party video tour of The Orchid Show: Jeff Leatham's Kaleidoscope on Wednesday, March 25, at 12 p.m. EDT. The site also provides convenient, one-click links to NYBG's blogs; the digital collection of NYBG's LuEsther T. Mertz Library; teacher resources; plant-based, kid-friendly recipes; ways to get involved in virtual research projects; and much more. We hope it will be a reminder of how the natural world can bring us joy."

A virtual visit may be enjoyed regardless of the weather.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a statewide "stay at home" order which will go in to effect at 9 p.m. ET Saturday, 21 March 2020
State parks and gardens are closed to visitors.
County facilities are possibly allowing visitors to use their open air trails. Call ahead before visiting. Remember we have been told to stay home.

Public parks and gardens here in New Jersey are offering ways to get outdoors while still staying safe. Trails are open except where noted. Buildings - and that includes rest rooms - are closed. Gardens with relatively low visitorship are preferable. It might be a larger garden with room for visitors to spread out, or a garden with a seasonal attraction that would be quiet at other times. Remember that you want to maintain social distancing. Six feet of separation from any other people with whom you do not share a home.

Mercer County

Howell Farm in Mercer County, New Jersey is currently closed to the public, and all scheduled programs are canceled until further notice. Hiking, biking, or horseback riding through the farm, its lanes, or on Hunter Road is prohibited.

Hunterdon County

At this time (22 March) there is a notice: "Please enjoy Hunterdon County Parks other outdoor trails and follow social distancing recommendations." I will be checking for updates.

Hunterdon County Parks and Recreation has suspended programs and closed visitor centers to the public until further notice. Parks and trails remain open. This includes the Hunterdon County Arboretum in Lebanon, which has a self-guided nature trail, and many of the county's other trails, parks, and preserves are available for hikes - maps here.

Somerset County

"General use parks and trails remain open. Golf courses closed as of March 21, 2020, 9:00 p.m. Carry in, carry out policy put in place temporarily.".

"Somerset County Park Commission gardens currently remain open. Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills will be open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. At this time we encourage garden visitors to enjoy the many geophytes now blooming in the gardens and take in some fresh air. If full closure of the gardens is mandated by the Somerset County administrators we will post updates on our website.

Colonial Park Gardens Arboretum is open dawn to dusk, the Rose Garden is open 8am to dusk. The Visitor Centers, Horticulture Department offices and all restrooms are closed.

Morris County

"The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Willowwood Arboretum, and Bamboo Brook will close at the end of the day on March 20, 2020.".

"Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the Morris County Park Commission will be conforming to Governor Murphy's Executive Order No. 104 related to non-essential recreational entities, occupancy/gatherings of less than 50 people and hours of operation between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. With over 20,000-acres of parkland, 38 distinct park facilities and 4,400,000 million visitors per year we are taking the conservative approach of limiting access to park facilities because we cannot ensure the high level of disinfection and sanitizing across the park system.

"The Grounds of all General Parks & Trails will remain open. It should be understood that playgrounds, benches, picnic tables, etc. are not be disinfected. All buildings (except golf courses at this time) will be closed the public including Park restrooms (there are still portable restroom facilities in most of the parks due to winter closures; please bring personal sanitary supplies)"

Now we get to the gardens. "Horticulture Facilities; Bamboo Brook Gardens, The Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Willowwood Arboretum. The Grounds & Trails will remain open but there is a potential that The Frelinghuysen Arboretum will close." Update: These three gardens are now closed. I have included some links from my visits in other years so you may enjoy their April flowers.

Essex County

I will be checking for updates.

"All County parks and parks facilities, athletic fields, playgrounds, golf courses, Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, Environmental Center and Riker Hill Art Park are CLOSED at least until Friday, March 27th. The Cherry Blossom Bike Races in Branch Brook Park on Sunday, April 4 and the Cherry Blossom 10K Race in Essex County Branch Brook Park on Sunday, April 5th have been postponed. The National Association for Olmsted Parks' annual convention, organized in partnership with the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, scheduled for April 23 to 25 has been cancelled."

Today, March 20, I telephoned and asked about Branch Brook Park and the cherry blossoms. Buildings closed, roadway and paths open, and the cherry blossoms are surging ahead, what with our warm weather. A visit in 2018 was excellent, with more cherry blossoms than in Washington, D.C. (and who would want to be there, anyhow.) I will call again on Monday, March 23 but am not sanguine.
Update: When I tried to call there is no one answering the phone. My assumption is that the park is closed to visitors. I have included some links so you may enjoy the cherry blossoms, fairy houses, and bearded iris from my visits to these gardens in other years .
Another option in Essex County is the South Mountain Fairy House Trail in Millburn. There is also the Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Upper Montclair in mid-May. When the iris are in bloom, however, that garden is so filled with visitors that social distancing is just not possible. I list it here because who knows what the covid-19 situation will be by mid-May. I will update when I learn more.

In Pennsylvania

I will be checking for updates.

The trails at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve will be accessible during regular hours. The Visitor Center and facilities, including rest rooms, will be closed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in accordance with the State of Pennsylvania DCNR mandates.

Mt. Cuba in Hockessin, Delaware, near Wilmington, had been scheduled to open on April 1, 2020. Not this year. "As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, so has our response. Due to the increasing severity of the situation, it has become clear that we cannot safely welcome guests to our gardens on Wednesday, April 1, and must postpone our opening day until conditions have improved. All classes and events remain canceled through Sunday, April 12. Additionally, we are canceling our annual Wildflower Celebration on Sunday, April 26. This would have been our 15th annual Wildflower Celebration, and we are deeply saddened not to host this wonderful event this year.

"In lieu of visiting the gardens in person, we welcome you to visit us virtually in our series of online garden tours in spring, summer, and fall. You can find these tours on our website."

Back to Top

Back to March

Back to the main Diary Page