In the late 19th century, John Wisner, a wealthy merchant, built a sprawling country estate in northern New Jersey, in what is now the town of Summit. Wisner and his wife hired Calvert Vaux, a noted landscape architect (and business partner of Frederick Law Olmstead) who transformed the rolling hillside property by adding wooded walkways, numerous flower beds, and several gardens. In 1974, after the last living owner left the property, Summit transformed it into a public space: the Reeves-Reed Arboretum (via Wikipedia).

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum sits on 13.5 acres, and includes numerous gardens, along with walking trails through over six acres of wooded forest. The grounds are open 365 days a year, and it is always free to visit (although donations are appreciated). My wife and I decided to meet there one day after work on a beautiful afternoon in April to stroll the grounds and take in the thousands of daffodils in bloom on the property.

So come along, then, on a quick, fun visit to this beautiful slice of nature!

Let’s begin:

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum

Map of New Jersey with red pin in location of Reeves-Reed Arboretum.
Located 45 minutes west of New York City, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum is only a short distance from I-78, and is easy to reach by car.
Open gates at Reeves-Reed Arboretum.
As I pulled up to the front gate, I thought I had made a wrong turn initially, as the gates were closed. I crept a little closer, and suddenly the gates whooshed open. I felt like a Vanderbilt, arriving at my country estate!
Sign post with numerous signs pointing to different spots on the property.
After parking my car, I wasn’t sure quite where to proceed until I came across a handy signpost – two thumbs up to whoever designed this!
Wisner House with daffodils in bloom in front of it.
The main building is the Wisner House. Built in 1889, this colonial revival home plays second fiddle to the true centerpiece of the property: the gardens.
Panorama of glacial bowl filled with daffodils.
The main attraction of the park is the glacial bowl, a depression formed by the retreat of the Wisconsin Glacier around 17,000 years ago. Each April, it fills with thousands of daffodils – a great reason to visit!
Daffodils running throughout glacial bowl.
According to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum website, over 50,000 daffodils bloom each year in the garden. It looked (and smelled) absolutely wonderful.
White and yellow daffodils.
It was daffodils as far as the eye could see!
Trail through woods, with picture book on sign post.
We took some time to amble through the woodland trails. A picture book is on display, a page at a time, with the pages spread out every 20-30 feet of this trail. The current book on display is That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey. What a great way to entertain small children during a walk!
Sall wigwam on display, with a sign post near it.
The Leni-Lenape peoples would frequently travel through this area of New Jersey and would create temporary dwellings (wigwams) during their migration. A local Eagle Scout created this 2/3 scale model wigwam as his Eagle Scout Project.
Tulips in bloom.
As we wandered the gardens, we noticed the next flower beginning to bloom – daffodils will soon give way to tulips!
Painted, dead tree.
One of the more interesting exhibits – this Japanese Maple tree died, but rather than being pulled out and chopped apart, it was painted, and remains as a natural sculpture. Pretty cool idea!
2012 Honda Accord parked beside greenhouse.
After a fun afternoon walking through the gardens, I returned to my car to see its gray paint covered in a layer of green pollen… after a long winter, springtime is finally here! We departed and headed for a quick dinner not too far away. 
Cup of New England Clam Chowder.
At the nearby Short Hills Mall, we ate at one of my favorite chain restaurants: the Boston-based Legal Sea Foods. I started my meal with a cup of New England clam chowder.
Cajun-spice covered cod, with rice and coleslaw.
I devoured my cajun-seasoned cod, jasmine rice, and coleslaw (pro tip: if you’re at Legal, get the coleslaw… you’ll thank me later).
Fish and chips in wire basket.
My wife ordered the fish and chips, because Legal Sea Food’s fryers are all 100% gluten free. There is no gluten option here… all of their fried foods are prepared gluten free. This is a rare indulgence for my wife, and she really enjoyed it!
Car odometer reading 216000 TRIP A 223.1
My Accord crossed yet another milestone, leaving 216,000 miles in the dust. At this rate, 220,000 should be sometime in June… onward!


Wheel of Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Grace, our 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, hasn’t had much attention on the blog lately, as she has been in and out of the shop owing to a rattling noise from the front end. It was finally diagnosed and fixed – the backing plate for the front left brake (basically, a dust shield) had corroded and was rattling against the brakes, making an absolutely awful noise. Our local Jeep dealer finally figured out the problem. Along the way, Grace also received new front brakes, new fluids for her four-wheel drive system, and an oil change. It was a pricy service, but all is well with Grace again, and expect to see more of her on this blog in the coming months!
2003 Honda Accord on display, with odometer photo in bottom half of image reading 1,009,665 TRIP A 648.8
Finally, our friend Justin entered his million mile car into HDay, one of the largest Honda and Acura enthusiast events in the US. This year’s event was held in Mechanicsville, Maryland. Justin’s car was on display in the VIP section, and by all accounts it was a popular attraction. Very cool to see this high mileage wonder (still on its original engine!) getting some much-deserved attention!

Wrapping Up

For the more than seven years that I have been keeping this blog, one of the most unexpected discoveries I’ve made is just how many free (or impossibly cheap) options there are for entertainment in New Jersey. With some careful planning, it’s easy to find cool places to visit that are affordable… like the Reeves-Reed Arboretum! The arboretum is completely free (donations are appreciated), and the grounds are currently open from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm daily.

Thanks, as always, for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.

3 thoughts on “Bloom.

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