Visit ucnj.org/parks-activities for an alphabetical list of all Union County parks with maps and directions.
The Henry S. Chatfield Memorial Garden at Warinanco Park is a showcase for sustainable flower gardening. It includes a variety of fragrant perennial plantings that attract butterflies and other pollinators.
The original garden was constructed in 1923 and stocked with thousands of tulip bulbs, providing a vivid but short-lived spring display. In recent years the tulips were replaced by a more diverse, natural design that reflects contemporary priorities including resource conservation, water conservation and habitat preservation.
To spot more butterflies, birds and other pollinators in Warinanco Park, use the walking path around the lake. The shoreline has been stocked with native flowering plants. For information on volunteering in Warinanco Park, contact the Adopt-a-Park program of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Union County Demonstration Garden is the centerpiece of the Master Gardeners of Union County, a popular volunteer organization that shares a love of gardening with the public.
The Demonstration Garden is located near the Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation, in Mountainside. It is enclosed in a deer-proof fence, and is open to the public during special events and by appointment.
Anyone can apply to become a certified Master Gardener. No experience in gardening or horticulture is needed. The Master Gardener program is run by experts with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, who provide hands-on training and guidance with support from the Commissioner Board.
To find out more about Master Gardener programs and activities, use the “click here to apply online” link at mastergardeners-uc.org.
The Trailside Nature and Science Center in the Watchung Reservation hosts several butterfly gardens and meadows on its grounds and nearby areas. Trailside is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. Visit ucnj.org/trailside for more details.
The nearby Union County Demonstration Garden also features many pollinator-friendly plantings. The garden is tended by the volunteer Master Gardeners program and is surrounded by a deer proof fence. Call the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County at 908-654-9854 (ext. 2) for information about visiting.
The Chatfield Garden in Warinanco Park and the Shakespeare Garden in Cedar Brook Park are also good places to watch for butterflies and other pollinators. Contact the Adopt-a-Park program of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation for more information about volunteering in the Chatfield Garden. Contact the Plainfield Garden Club for information about volunteering in the Shakespeare Garden.
Other native plantings that attract pollinators have been established around the lakes in Cedar Brook Park, Echo Lake Park, and Warinanco Park. They can be viewed from the walking paths that circle the shorelines.
Union County welcomes volunteers to help clear undesirable plants and debris from the lakeside pollinator meadows and other areas. Please contact the Adopt-a-Park program for more information.
Rain gardens help prevent local flooding and ponding. They incorporate soil and design elements that enable rainwater and storm runoff to seep naturally underground. When planted with hardy, native plants they also conserve water resources and serve as habitats for pollinators.
Several rain gardens are on display on the grounds of the Trailside Nature and Science Center and the nearby Demonstration Garden, both located in the Watchung Reservation at 452 New Providence Road, in Mountainside.
For information on the Trailside rain gardens call 908-789-3670.
For information on the Demonstration garden call the Master Gardeners of Union County at 908-654-9854.
The Shakespeare Garden at Cedar Brook Park is known for its incredible variety of flowers and attractiveness to butterflies and other pollinators.
Members of the Plainfield Garden Club created the Shakespeare Garden in the 1920’s as part of a worldwide celebration of the renowned playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Plainfield Garden Club continues tending the Shakespeare Garden to this day. For more details about the garden, including information on volunteering, visit plainfieldgardenclub.org.
To spot more pollinators and flowers at Cedar Brook, use the walking path along the lake at the other end of the park.
The Union County 9-11 Memorial is a place of quiet reflection honoring those lost in the attacks of September 11, 2001. The design elements include the names of the 60 Union County residents who were killed in New York City that day, and two girders from the World Trade Center.
The 9-11 Memorial is located on a hilltop within Echo Lake Park, near the Springfield Avenue border.
More gardens coming soon!