A Message From the Director

Message from the Director – January 2016

Rutgers Gardens – Where the Future of Horticulture Is Grounded in Our Past.     

As every gardener knows, Gardens are forever evolving.  Plants become damaged, or they start to decline, or perhaps the gardener simply wishes to create changes and improvements!  For whatever reason, Gardens are never static.  Gardens should also embody that element called ‘fun’ and serve as an escape from the everyday challenges of life.  I have found it interesting that Rutgers Gardens, neither by design nor mission, has always been a combination of the two; it has slowly been evolving over the years, while providing the visitor that touch of whimsy and an escape from the everyday stresses of life. 
Perhaps you may be wondering how many years Rutgers Gardens has been evolving!  This year, 2016, marks the 100th year that the Gardens and the surrounding area known as Horticultural Farm Number 1 was purchased by Rutgers University.  Its initial mission was for plant research and for the display of plants to local farmers in the hopes of expanding the emerging nursery industry.  For 100 years, Horticultural Farm Number 1 has churned out wonderful selections of Peach, Apple, Asparagus, Holly, Dogwood, and of late, Hazelnut. The Gardens displayed selections of Iris, shrubs, trees and, more recently, annuals, perennials and vegetables. 

To embrace this remarkable history, while looking towards the next 100 years, the Gardens is unveiling a new mission statement:  Rutgers Gardens cultivates inquisitive minds, great plants, and inspired gardening through educational exploration and enjoyment.
As well as a new tagline: 
Rutgers Gardens – Where the Future of Horticulture Is Grounded in Our Past.     

What will the future for Rutgers Gardens hold as it continues to evolve?  Foremost, a truly fun approach for looking at plants within a garden setting!  The overriding theme will be to display how the incredible changes in the geography and geology of the world over the past 400 million years has influenced the development of plants.  Simply put, it will be an entertaining look at the story of plants on Earth and, to a degree, that of the Earth itself.  The Master Plan for the Gardens is under development and should be complete this coming fall.  However, you will notice subtle changes that will begin to appear this spring.  The vegetable garden will expand, not only physically with a High Tunnel, but also programmatically; it will mesh with undergraduate classes and educate students on sustainable organic agriculture and food justice.  The Rutgers Gardens Farm Market, which will be starting its 9th season this year, is also planning an expansion with the addition of a new structure, to be named Cook’s Market.  The Gardens is actively fundraising for this structure, and I welcome inquiries and support from those who are interested in this much-needed facility.  In addition, the Pollinator Garden, the area between the Rain Garden and Helyar Woods, will officially open this year along with an accompanying web page and additional signage! 
Obviously, more details for the future of Rutgers Gardens and the Centennial Celebration will be forthcoming as the year proceeds.  I encourage you to please join us at our events, to visit the Farm Market on Friday afternoons and to help support the Gardens by becoming a member.  My goal is to see membership reach ten-fold its current age or 1,000 members! We can do this!!  The Gardens has a wonderful and rich history, which will not only be celebrated during this centennial year, but will provide the foundation for an ever changing and evolving future!