Travel

Secret Gardens in NJ: Peaceful Spots to Explore

In the Garden State, heading to a peaceful spot filled with blooms should be on every resident’s to-do list.

Montclair is bustling. The town’s city-like feel comes from its array of restaurants and shops, but just off the main drag, a horticultural haven presents a timeless breather. The Avis Campbell Gardens, maintained by the Garden Club of Montclair, is a treat bar none. Designed as a formal English garden, this hideaway is replete with climbing roses, colorful dahlias and fragrant lavender bushes, all framed by brick walking paths and a bubbling fountain. Tucked behind the United Way building, right next to the Montclair Public Library, this sanctuary is out of view of passersby. Only those in the know will venture here—and be delighted. —Deborah P. Carter
60 S. Fullerton Avenue, Montclair

Sondra Beninati’s wonderfully restored Victorian restaurant/guest house/event space has a secret, beautiful backyard. “My husband, Steve, is my little Italian gardener. He planned and planted every tree and flower,” she says. A protected microclimate just a block from the ocean, it features a columned pergola covered in grapevines that leads to a patio. It’s surrounded by trees and bursting with seasonal pansies and hydrangeas. Tables in the garden are available by reservation. —Jon Coen
212 Centre Street, Beach Haven; 609-492-3553

Cross Estate is a hidden gem of a garden in an area of the state bursting with natural beauty. Enjoy the quiet while viewing native florals, a flower-covered pergola, and an early-1900s stone house and water tower on the property, formerly private grounds. Garden tours are held Wednesdays at 10 am for $10 (Email [email protected] for reservations). The annual plant sale is taking place May 7 from 10 am-noon. —Julie Gordon
61 Jockey Hollow Road, Bernardsville

Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown is known as a haven for home gardeners looking for inspiration. But what some may not know is that that the beautiful, 54-acre garden and greenhouses stands on property that was once owned by notorious mob boss Vito Genovese. The home that once stood on the property burned down mysteriously, shortly after he left for Naples, Italy, fleeing indictment. The gardens, which are free and open to the public, are known for their steep terrain, hence the name Deep Cut. Visitors can take a walking tour of the park and find new ways to improve their home garden, or ask the staff horticulturalist questions. Deep Cut Gardens are part of the Monmouth County Park System. —Jacqueline Mroz
152 Red Hill Road, Middletown

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