More Information about the S. Mary Grace Burns Arboretum

of Georgian Court University


 Woody Plant Donations


 Our Tree Labeling System

 Why Some Trees Are Fenced


 Biggest Trees in Ocean County



Many of our trees were planted when the Gould estate was established, or before, and are over 100 years old. They will soon need to be replaced. In addition, we lose a few each year to lightning strikes, windstorms and heavy snowfalls. Our more than 40 eastern hemlocks are dying from an infestation of hemlock woolly adelgid. Although we're doing our part to preserve genetic diversity by replacing dead and dying trees with their own offspring whenever possible, and in fact this has been a major focus of our additions to the arboretum since 2002, we do want to expand our list of species to further accomplish our arboretum's mission. Donating a tree is a wonderful way to honor or remember someone!

If you would like to provide financial assistance in acquiring plants please contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 732.987.2267. When someone provides money for a tree, it is our general procedure that the university chooses which tree will be acquired and where and when it will be planted, based on plant availability and the university's needs. All gifts of woody plants are given two plaques: an identification plaque with common name, scientific name, plant family, and place of species origin, and a donor plaque with wording agreed upon by the arboretum staff members and the donor. The cost of a donated tree is $500, however we welcome donations of any size to be used for general maintenance of the tree collection (including replacement of labels, anti-deer fencing, etc.). While this may seem high, the cost covers the tree itself, the labor and materials associated with mulching, watering, pruning, labeling, and mapping the tree, and the arboretum's guarantee to replace the tree with a similar one when it dies. Trees require some maintenance each year, so the donated cost helps to compensate for the many years of expenses associated with tree maintenance. Given the life expectancy of most trees, the cost works out to only a few dollars per year. Tree donors have the satisfaction of knowing that their tree will be seen by many people each year, and may be used in arboretum educational programs.


During tree mapping efforts in the 1970s and 1980s, different systems were used to identify trees in the arboretum. The method used in the late 1980s when the arboretum was formally established involved a 100m x 100m grid system, with a transit being used to identify tree locations. Accession numbers were based on grid coordinates. The centers of the grids were marked by metallic markers embedded in the soil. This mapping technique was very time-consuming, and many of the markers were subsequently removed during construction activities.

Beginning in the fall of 2001, a Global Positioning System unit is being used to assign accession numbers during a complete re-mapping effort being conducted by Dr. Michael Gross, Ms. Mary Stockton and Sister Mary Bilderback. High spatial resolution GPS data, made available by the federal government starting in 2000, provides the location of our trees. Each accession number consists of 4 digits corresponding to latitude, followed by 4 digits corresponding to longitude, followed by a unique number 1 to 4 digits in length that simply indicates whether the tree is the first one to be numbered, or 300th, etc. Since the arboretum occupies a relatively small area in the cosmos, all portions of the arboretum are at 40 degrees north latitude and 74 degrees west longitude, and these numbers are not used as part of the accession numbers. As an example of an accession number, if the tree being added to the database is the 271st tree in the arboretum to be mapped and the GPS unit indicates it is located at 40o 05'.17 N latitude and 74o 13'.58 W longitude, the tree's accession number becomes 0517 1358 271. Accession numbers and the scientific name of the species are being engraved on aluminum tags, which are then nailed into the large trees, or tied to a branch using wire for small trees or shrubs. We are generally ignoring, for at least the time being, rows and lines of shrubs (e.g., yews, privet, forsythia, etc.) where individuals are not distinct and may grow together. To date we have mapped over 2400 trees.  Our accessions are kept in a Microsoft Excel database.


Some of our trees and shrubs are fenced to reduce damage by animals. Browsing and grazing by rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, and white-tailed deer cause substantial damage to our plantings each year. Deer do additional damage by rubbing their antlers against tree trunks and branches, which kills them if too much bark is removed.

The giant white oak tree behind the library is enclosed by a large black fence both to protect it from damage from tree-climbing humans and from vehicles driving over the roots, and to protect humans from damage caused by falling limbs. Since the fall of 2000, the large oak tree has lost four enormous limbs. A count of tree rings on a limb that was lost in 2004 indicates that the white oak tree dates from about the year 1750.


We do not have any paid staff members so we are not equipped to do a lot of arboretum tours. Visitors are encouraged to take a self-guided tour using the information on the website and the color booklet available in the library or at the guardhouse (please see policy on arboretum home page). Free guided visits for school groups, girl and boy scouts, etc. may be arranged by contacting Dr. Michael Gross, at 732.987.2373. Guided visits for other groups may also be arranged, but a donation is requested of $6.50 per person, and we prefer a minimum of about 15 people (although 5 is acceptable) and a maximum of 20-25. Tours of the arboretum do not include tours of the insides of the buildings and are tree and garden-focused, although the historic and artistic features of the gardens and buildings are described. Arboretum tour proceeds are used for plant acquisition and upkeep in the arboretum and are not used to pay the tour guide. Comprehensive tours generally take 90-120 minutes. Because of the size of the campus, it is difficult to complete a guided tour in less than one hour.  For tours of the insides of historic buildings and a non-plant-focused tour of the gardens, contact the Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732.987.2285.

Our annual Arboretum Celebration is held in late April or early May in the Dorothy Marron University Community Chapel, which offers a wonderful view of the Japanese Garden and Founders' Grove. We commemorate the arboretum, as well as trees, "nature" and spring in general, with a group of short contributions of music, art, poetry, dance, readings, etc. from volunteers throughout the campus community. Although there is no formal tour associated with this event, the public is welcome to attend and may wish to do a self-guided tour before or after Arboretum Day. The date for 2015 has not yet been established.


The following trees in our arboretum are believed to be the largest of their species in Ocean County, as recorded on the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission's Big Tree List. Data collected by Geoffrey Lohmeyer, Ocean County Shade Tree Commission, 129 Hooper Ave, Toms River, NJ 08753, in August 2006. To see the trees, please click to see a flash slideshow prepared by Mr. Lohmeyer and provided courtesy of the Ocean County Shade Tree Commission.

Scientific Name Common Name Circum-
ference (ft)
Height (ft) Crown Spread
Total Pts Location
Abies balsamea Balsam Fir 10'6" 94 40 230 Apollo Fountain
Betula nigra River Birch 6'7" 86 80 185 South of Farley Center
Cedrus atlantica glauca Blue Atlas Cedar 7'2" 54 62 155.5 East of Farley Center
Chamaecyparis obtusa Hinoki Falsecypress 5'3" 54 25 153.25 Italian Garden
Chamaecyparis pisifera Moss Cypress 8'9" 86 50 203.5 South of Mansion
Fraxinus americana White Ash 11'9" 86 80 247 Formal Garden
Picea orientalis Oriental Spruce 4'4" 70 15 125.75 South of Farley Center
Pinus strobus White Pine 12'4" 100 68 265 Italian Garden
Pinus wallichiana Himalayan Pine 5'0" 46 45 117.25 North of Farley Center
Quercus alba White Oak 16'2" 46 115 268.75 North of Library
Quercus coccinea Scarlet Oak 8'2" 86 80 204 South of Raymond Hall
Quercus prinus Chestnut Oak 13'4" 102 90 284.5 Founders' Grove
Sciadopitys verticillata Japanese Umbrella "Pine" 4'9" 78 22 128.5 Japanese Garden
Tilia americana American Basswood 11'4" 94 65 246.25 Detention Basin
Tilia platyphyllos Bigleaf Linden 8'7" 55 42 168.5 North of Casino

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