SKYLANDS BOTANICAL GARDENS
Ringwood, Passaic County, NJ


Directions:

Take I-87 north, passing exit 15 for I-287 south to NJ, and get off at the next exit, 15A, (US Route 17 north) and proceed to Sloatsburg; turn/bear right (there is a a very small sign for Ringwood) onto Sterling Mine Road. Keep following the Ringwood signs continuing/bearing straight past an entrance for Sterling Forest and drive into New Jersey onto Mill Pond Road/Sloatsburg Road. Pass by Ringwood State Forest and turn left onto Morris Road which will take you to the gardens.


History:

1846-1920 -- life span of Francis Lynde Stetson, who was a New York lawyer, as well as an incorporator of railroads and the U.S. Steel Corporation. He was also a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden.

Stetson assembled a large property, he named "Skylands Farms," in the Ramapo Mountains. He chose Samuel Parsons, Jr., a protégé of Frederick Law Olmsted, to lay out the estate. The large farm had 30 outbuildings, gardens and a nine-hole golf course. Among his guests at the mansion were Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, Ethel Barrymore and J.P. Morgan.

Parsons was the founder of the American Society of Landscape Architects and New York City parks commissioner. Later he used photos of his Skylands work, including the Swamp Pond, to illustrate his book (1915), The Art of Landscape Architecture, Its Development and Its Application to Modern Landscape Gardening.

1922 -- Skylands was sold to Clarence McKenzie Lewis (1877-1959), an investment banker and trustee of the New York Botanical Garden. He tore down the Stetson house and replaced it with a 44 room Tudor mansion (of native granite).

The distinguished American architect John Russell Pope designed the manor house in the Tudor Revival Mansion. Lewis hires the prominent firm of Vitale and Geiffert to design the gardens. Geiffert designed Rockefeller Center, the grounds of Princeton University and the National Gallery of Art.

1966 -- New Jersey purchased the 1,117 acres of Skylands from Shelton College which had used it as a campus.

1984 -- New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean designated the central 96 acres surrounding the manor house as New Jersey's official botanical garden. (Scheller 1998:68) It has been placed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
 


Features:

Terraced gardens, a cactus garden, a wildflower garden, and many other formal and informal gardens. 250 acre plateau amid the Ramapo Mountains.

Annual garden with mums, snapdragons, marigolds, alyssum, coleus, verbena, and begonias. Best visited during beginning of June.

Perennial garden. Many of them are typical meadow plants including goldenrod, black-eyed Susans, and wild bergamot. In August, the blue and white blossoms of the chaste tree and butterfly bush are numerous.

Lane of crabapple trees imported from China. From the lawn here can be seen the Ramapo Mountains.

"The Four Seasons," a group of four statues depicting figures dressed in spring, summer, fall, and winter dress. Beyond the statues is the horse-chestnut collection. Sweet gum. Tulip tree.
Pignut hickory tree. Red and white pine.

Swamp Pond. Man-made pool. Forget-me-nots. Sensitive fern, marsh fern, and various orchids.


Trails:

From the parking lot of Shepherd Lake you can catch the Ringwood-Ramapo Trail (red trail).

The RR trail west goes to Sloatsburg Road where the White trail heads northwest to Manor Trail of Ringwood Manor (see Ringwood), a circular trail.

The RR trail east goes along Shepherd Lake and then heads southwest to height of 943 feet and 1040 feet on Mount Defiance. Still heading southwest the trail trail heads into the Erskin Lakes area. The red trail continues southwest into the Ramapo Mountain State Forest. It heads eventually into the Cannonball Trail (red) that heads into the Ramapo Lake area where there is a parking lot.

To make a circular walk take a right (west) turn off the Halifax Trail (green trail). This brings the hiker to the area around Swan Pond of the Botanical Gardens. Then follow the roads back to the Shepherd Lake parking area.


PLANT LIST of the more natural areas
Dr. Patrick L. Cooney


Trees:
Acer palmatum (cut-leaf Japanese maple)
Acer pensylvanicum (striped maple)
Acer platanoides (Norway maple)
Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore maple)
Acer saccharum (sugar maple)
Aesculus sp. (buckeye) planted
Aesculus sp. (horse chestnut) planted
Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven)
Aralia spinosa (Hercules club)
Betula lenta (black birch)
Betula nigra (river birch)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Carpinus caroliniana (musclewood)
Carya glabra (pignut hickory)
Cladrastis kentuckea (yellow wood) planted
Cornus florida (flowering dogwood)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Gingko biloba (gingko) planted
Juglans nigra (black walnut)
Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Magnolia tripetala (umbrella tree)
Nyssa sylvatica (tupelo)
Paulownia tomentosa (empress tree)
Pinus rubra (red pine)
Pinus strobus (white pine)
Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore)
Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)
Prunus sp. (weeping cherry) planted
Prunus subhirtella var. (Higan cherry) planted
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)
Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust)
Salix sp. (willow)
Sassafras albidum (sassafras)
Sophora japonica (Japanese pagoda tree)
Taxus cuspidata ‘columnaris' (Japanese yew) planted
Thuja occidentalis (arbor-vitae)
Tilia americana (American basswood)
Tsuga canadensis (eastern hemlock)
Ulmus americana (American elm)
(blue atlas cedar) planted
(Colorado blue cedar) planted
(copper beech) planted
(kousa dogwood) planted
(wingnut) planted

Shrubs and sub-shrubs:
Alnus serrulata (smooth alder)
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)
Callicarpa sp. (beautyberry) planted
Calluna sp. (heather) 7/23/02 planted
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)
Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle) 7/23/02
Clethra alnifolia (sweet pepperbush) 7/23/02
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)
Cornus racemosa (gray-stemmed dogwood)
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Euonymus alatus (winged euonymus)
Forsythia sp. (golden bells)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Ilex verticillata (winterberry holly)
Lindera benzoin (spicebush)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Philadelphicus sp. (mockorange)
Physocarpus opulifolius (ninebark)
Pieris japonicus (Japanese andromeda) planted
Ranunculus acris (tall buttercup) 7/23/02
Rhamnus frangula (European buckthorn)
Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron)
Rhododendron sp. (azalea)
Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)
Rubus phoenicolasius (wineberry)
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Rumex obtusifolius (broad dock)
Sagittaria sp. (arrowhead)
Salix discolor (pussy willow)
Sambucus canadensis (common elderberry)
Spiraea alba var. latifolia (meadowsweet) 7/23/02
Spiraea sp. (Japanese spiraea) planted 7/23/02
Symplocos paniculata (sapphireberry) Wayne Morris reports it is spreading here, 8/30/02
Syringa vulgaris (lilac) planted
Vaccinium atrococcum (black highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)
Vaccinium pallidum (hillside blueberry)
Viburnum dentatum (smooth arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum opulus (cranberry viburnum)
Viburnum sp. (viburnum) 8/5/95

Vines:
Amphicarpaea bracteata (hog peanut)
Campsis radicans (trumpet creeper) 7/23/02
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Convolvulus arvensis (field bindweed) 7/23/02
Euonymus fortunii (Fortune's euonymus)
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Toxicodendron radicans (poison ivy)
Vinca minor (periwinkle)
Vitis labrusca (fox grape)
Vitis (frost grape)
Wisteria sp. (wisteria) 13 leaflets

Herbs:
Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 7/23/02
Agrimonia sp. (agrimony)
Ajuga sp. (bugleweed) 8/5/95
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp) 7/23/02
Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)
Arisaema triphyllum (Jack-in-the-pulpit)
Aster divaricatus (white wood aster) 7/23/02
Astilbe sp. (astilbe) 7/23/02 planted
Bidens comosa (strawstem beggarticks)
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy) 7/23/02
Circaea lutetiana (enchanter's nightshade) 7/23/02 8/5/95
Daucus carota (Queen Anne's lace) 7/23/02
Dianthus armeria (Deptford pink) 7/23/02
Dipsacus sylvestris (teasel) 7/23/02 planted
Duchesnea indica (Indian strawberry)
Eupatorium fistulosum (trumpetweed) 7/23/02 soon
Eupatorium hyssopifolium (hyssop-leaved boneset) 8/5/95
Euphorbia maculata (spotted spurge)
Euthamia graminifolia (grass-leaved goldenrod) 7/23/02
Galium verum (yellow bedstraw) 7/23/02 8/5/95
Geum canadense (white avens) 7/23/02
Helenium autumnale (sneezeweed)
Hemerocallis fulva (tawny day lily) 7/23/02 planted
Hosta spp. (planted) 7/23/02
Impatiens sp. (jewelweed)
Iris sp. (blue or yellow flag)
Lapsana communis (nipplewort) 7/23/02
Lemna sp. (duckweed)
Lespedeza sp. (bush clover)
Lobelia cardinalis (cardinal flower) 8/5/95
Lotus corniculatus (birdfoot trefoil) 7/23/02
Ludwigia palustris (marsh purslane)
Lycopus sp. (bugleweed) 7/23/02
Lycopus virginicus (Virginia bugleweed)
Lysimachia ciliata (fringed loosestrife) 7/23/02
Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) 7/23/02 8/5/95
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medicago lupulina (black medick) 7/23/02
Mentha arvensis (wild mint) 7/23/02
Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)
Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe)
Myosotis scorpioides (forget-me-not) 7/23/02
Nuphar advena (yellow pond lily) 7/23/02
Nymphaea odorata (fragrant white water lily) 8/5/95
Oxalis sp. (yellow wood sorrel) 7/23/02
Phytolacca americana (pokeweed)
Plantago lanceolata (English plantain) 7/23/02
Plantago major (common plantain)
Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple)
Polygonatum pubescens (hairy true Solomon's seal)
Polygonum cespitosum (cespitose smartweed) 7/23/02
Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese knotweed)
Polygonum hydropiperoides (mild water pepper)
Polygonum sagittatum (arrowhead tearthumb)
Portulaca oleracea (common purslane)
Prunella vulgaris (self-heal) 7/23/02
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (narrow-leaved mountain mint) 7/23/02
Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan) 7/23/02
Satureja vulgaris (wild basil)
Smilacina racemosa (false Solomon's seal)
Solidago caesia (blue-stemmed goldenrod)
Solidago flexicaulis (zig-zag goldenrod)
Solidago juncea (early goldenrod) 7/23/02
Trifolium aureum (yellow clover) 8/5/95
Trifolium pratense (red clover) 7/23/02
Trifolium repens (white clover) 7/23/02
Triodanis perfoliata (Venus' looking glass)
Vernonia noveboracensis (New York ironweed) 8/5/95
Veronica officinalis (common speedwell)
Wolffia or Wolfiella sp. (watermeal)

Rushes:
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Juncus tenuis (path rush)

Sedges:
Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered sedge type)
Carex lurida (sallow sedge)
Carex ovales type (sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)
Cyperus strigosus (strigose nutsedge)?
Eleocharis ovata (ovate spikerush)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark green bulrush)

Grasses:
Dactylis glomerata (orchard grass)
Leersia alba (white grass)
Lolium perenne (English rye grass)
Microstegium vimineum (Japanese stilt grass)
Panicum clandestinum (deer-tongue grass)
Phalaris arundinacea (canary reed grass)
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)
Poa compressa (Canada bluegrass)
(Zebra grass) planted

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Osmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)
Osmunda regalis (royal fern)
Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern)
Pteridium aquilinum (bracken fern)
Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern)


SKYLANDS
May 17, 1936

Eleven members of the club enjoyed the trip on Sunday, May 17, to "Skylands," the estate of Mr. Clarence McK. Lewis, at Sterlington, NY. With Mr. Longmuir, the head gardener, as guide, the party walked through the gardens. An extensive wild garden where Japanese primroses and species of American plants are naturalized was particularly charming. Of much interest was a plantation of Meconopsis baileyi, of perhaps fifty or sixty robust plants, with a number about to bloom. Had the trip been a week later, a long border of Oriental poppies in full bloom would have made a grand display.

After lunch the group, again with Mr. Longmuir as guide, climbed the mountain that overshadows the gardens and took pleasure in the view from the summit, including the Wanaque Reservoir.

It is hoped that the club may enjoy a trip to "Skylands" another year. The estate bears testimony to Mrs. Lewis's great interest in horticulture.

J. Harry Logan