Go to clickable image map of arboretum
Download a copy of our color brochure, 2012 edition!
Georgian Court University was formerly the winter home of George Jay Gould, millionaire son of railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The architect Bruce Price was hired to transform the land, purchased in 1896, into a lavish country estate resembling an English estate of the Georgian period; therefore, it was named Georgian Court. In addition to designing the buildings, Bruce Price designed three of the four major gardens: the Classic or Italian Gardens, the Sunken Garden or Lagoon, and the Formal Garden. The garden designer Takeo Shiota designed the Japanese Garden.
The sandy soils of the New Jersey Pine Barrens were not conducive to the cultivation of the exotic plants the Goulds wanted to grow. To provide rich topsoil, 5,000 carloads of fine loam were brought to Georgian Court from neighboring Monmouth County. George Gould died in 1923. The Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate in 1924, moving their College of Mount Saint Mary to the site. The Gould family requested that the name of the estate be retained, so the college became Georgian Court University.
The arboretum, established in 1989, is named after Sister Mary Grace Burns, who was the chairperson of the biology department and professor of biology from 1927 to 1968. It comprises the cultivated parts of the campus (approx. 100 acres). In addition to a large number of exotic plant species, the arboretum features a good collection of native plants of the New Jersey Pine Barrens (New Jersey Pinelands). Most of the pinelands plants are scattered throughout the arboretum. Most notably, we have a number of very large and old oaks (mostly chestnut, black and white) and pines (mostly shortleaf but also pitch). These species are well adapted to our climate and soils, and are found on most parts of the campus. The densest concentration of oaks is on oak knoll, the highest elevation on campus just past the university's entrance gate. The largest white oak in Ocean County is located behind our Sister Mary Joseph Cunningham Library -- we have a total of 16 trees that are the biggest of their species in Ocean County. The grounds of Lake House and the Music Center have our largest concentration of shortleaf and pitch pines. We are currently working on restoring an undeveloped portion of the campus that contains a remnant pineland community. A nature trail traverses approximately 40 acres in the woods of the northern part of the campus.
The S. Mary Grace Burns Arboretum of Georgian Court University, acting in harmony and interdependence with all creation through sustainable landscaping practices, has the mission of preserving and enhancing the unique botanical heritage of the former Georgian Court estate and its gardens, while promoting its use for education, research, enjoyment and inspiration. Species added to the four historic gardens augment the gardens' authenticity. The New Jersey Pinelands flora is maintained and expanded. Additions to the arboretum include species that provide interesting colors, textures and fragrances throughout the year. Collections are developed that build upon the historic botanical strengths of the grounds.
The arboretum is an ongoing project of the biology faculty and staff. The director of the arboretum is Dr. Michael Gross. The assistant director is Sister Mary Bilderback.
For information about the tree collection, call 732.987.2373 or 732.987.2203, or e-mail Dr. Gross, or go to our list of woody plants and their location on campus. To date, we have identified approximately 180 species of woody plants on our campus.
If you are interested in donating a woody plant, want to know how we map and keep track of our trees, or want to know why many of our trees and shrubs are fenced, click here. Volunteers familiar with common herbaceous plants and who are able to work independently are needed to help weed or assist with other light gardening tasks. Please contact Dr. Michael Gross at 732.987.2373, or firstname.lastname@example.org, if interested.
For photographs of some of the fountains, statues and urns not shown in other sections of the Web site, click here.
For a list of some of the many non-plant species on campus, visit our All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory!
We welcome visitors! The arboretum is open from 8 AM until dusk daily, year-round with the exception of Commencement (please no visitors after 1 pm on Wed May 22, and no visitors on Thu May 23 before 5 pm). We suggest printing a copy of the campus map so that you can more easily enjoy your self-guided tour of our plants and gardens (you will probably be asked to park in lot A or B). Our campus is a national historic landmark, and we hope you enjoy our statuary and historic building exteriors during your visit. To ensure the safety and security of you and our students, guests are not permitted in any of the university buildings (except the library). You may also be interested in driving directions. If you are interested in bringing a group (i.e., more than one personal car full of people) onto the campus, please call 732.987.2285 (Office of Special Events and Conferences). The campus as a whole is handicapped accessible, but the sunken garden is not, and most paths through the formal, Italian and Japanese gardens are pebble-covered and narrow. Before traveling to the campus, you may want to check the current weather conditions as recorded by the university's weather station (or, visit a commercial site such as www.accuweather.com and type in 08701, or Rutgers University climate site climate.rutgers.edu/njwxnet). Until we run out of copies, a 2005 edition color history and guidebook with a map explaining the self-guided tour is available for free upon request from either the guardhouse at the university entrance, or the library (when the library is open). Alternatively, we can mail one copy of the guidebook per address if you wish to receive a copy before visiting us. The new, 2012 edition of the brochure is available in pdf (click here) but not in paper form yet. The self-guided tour begins in front of Farley Center. It is sometimes possible to arrange a group tour. We also have a native New Jersey Pine Barrens Woody Plant Species tour handout and a guide to our collection of Famous and Historic Trees purchased from American Forests. PLEASE NOTE: Deer have eaten many of our low-growing plants. The Japanese Garden remains open to the public but is enclosed by a fence to keep deer out.
In keeping with the historic nature of the former George Gould estate, our gardens feature woody plants, statues, fountains, Japanese teahouses/stone lanterns, bridges, etc., with very few showy annuals or perennials. Many of the new additions to the arboretum are seedlings of their parents to ensure the continued presence of genotypes adapted to our landscape. Most of the annuals are in urns in the Italian Gardens and the periphery of the Formal Garden. Some beds of the formal garden contain dianthus, irises, and some other species, and the garden itself is ringed by peonies. Please also enjoy the many flowering plants in the fenced "Puny Garden" opposite the library. You may enter our newest garden, the small, fenced Wellness Garden (click here for plant list) between the bookstore and the Wellness Center.
Georgian Court University has signed the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. In addition, our campus is located adjacent to Lake Carasaljo, which empties into Barnegat Bay, an estuary of national significance currently overburdened with nutrients from fertilizer run-off. In the interest of reducing our carbon footprint and living in a sustainable manner with minimal adverse input to our environment, our gardens are not irrigated and we mostly water manually. We minimize our use of fertilizers and pesticides. Consequently, our lawns and gardens do contain some weeds, and during dry spells our lawns and gardens will appear thirsty. We no longer regularly mow some less-trafficked areas in the interest of reducing noise and chemical pollution from mowing, increasing the cooling effect generated by taller vegetation, and promoting the growth of some types of wildflowers typically found in meadow-type environments. We thank you for appreciating the more natural appearance these practices give our historic landscape and the enhanced wildlife habitat we are providing.
If you are a student in need of leaves/twigs for a school project, please help yourself to a leaf/small twig from any tree having more than 50 leaves.
We lost 62 trees between Hurricane Sandy and Nor'easter Athena (10 inches wet snow), Oct 29-Nov 8, 2012. See photos at www.flickr.com/photos/michaelfgross. If you wish to make a contribution to help us replace the trees, please send donations to the GCU Office of Institutional Advancement, or click on the Giving to GCU tab at www.georgian.edu.
We are proud to have Cooperator Status in the Plant Conservation Alliance and are supporting Plants for the Planet.
We are members of the Garden State Gardens Consortium -- click here for a copy of the Garden State Gardens Flyer listing all member gardens. September 2010 was Native Knowledge Month for the GSG. Click here for the handout we provided at this program. As always, you are welcome to tour our gardens any time we are open and use the handout during your own tour. For GSG's Liquid Assets Month (September 2011), we offered a program about how an unmowed stormwater detention basin can be a place to support biodiversity, how GCU collects parking lot stormwater and re-uses it for irrigation, and how GCU's "living roof" is part of our stormwater management strategy. For Garden State Gardens' 2013 Art in the Garden project, join us for an hour of poetry reading on Saturday, June 1, 2013, in the GCU Dorothy Marron Chapel, starting at 9:30 am. Bring a poem of your own, or listen to others read theirs. We will include poems inspired by GCU's gardens. Contact email@example.com or 732-987-2373 for more information.The university is also a member of the:
Wednesday, June 5Undergraduate Transfer Information Session
Tuesday, June 11Graduate Information Session
SPRING PROGRAMS & EVENTS:
2013 Spring Mosaic
Questions?Undergrad: 732.987.2700Graduate: 732.987.2770Toll-Free: 1.800.458.8422E-MAIL US
For questions regarding graduate housing for women, call 732.987.2770