Essex County's Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is a living museum that displays a rich variety of irises that bloom from mid-May to early June.Their activities and plant sale begins today. It was a Mother's Day tradition of mine for many years to take my mom there to wak through the blooms.
In 1927, the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens were established in the name of Frank Presby—a local resident known for his stewardship of the American Iris Society. These gardens were tended by curator Barbara Walther for more than five decades and are now maintained by a volunteer society, the Essex County Presby Memorial Citizens Committee.
Peak bloom season occurs from May 15 through June 6. During this time, the Bloom Room Gift Shop is open from 10am to 8pm seven days a week.
Seeing the non-profit organization that maintained the gardens struggling to survive, and in danger of having to sell the Walther House, the County of Essex formed an extraordinary partnership in 2009 with the Citizens Committee's Board of Trustees and the Township of Montclair. With $1.1 million in grants from the NJ Green Acres Program and the Essex County Recreation and Open Space Trust Fund, Essex County purchased more than seven acres of land that make up the House and Garden complex; the adjacent 3 acres of Township land will be sold to the County for $1.
The County now maintains the House and grounds, and the Citizens Committee, maintaining ownership of the iris bulbs, continues to preserve the Gardens and records, build an endowment and expand their educational programming.
The property, consisting of the Walther House and Iris Gardens, is designated as a historic site by the National and State Registers of Historic Places and attracts thousands of people from around the world each year. The gardens contain approximately 8,000 irises in 3,200 varieties and produce nearly 75,000 flowers at peak season.
DIRECTIONS: The Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is located at 474 Upper Mountain Avenue in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. Street parking is available on Upper Mountain Avenue (garden side) and Highland Avenue. Handicap parking is available on the Walther House driveway. Entrance to the gardens is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk daily all year round.
Friday, May 7 & Saturday, May 8 Plant Sale 10am to 5pm
Saturday, May 8 Bloom Room Gift Shop Open for Mother's Day 11am to 5pm
Saturday, May 29 Annual Family Garden Party 11am to 3pm
Saturday, October 16 Community Cleanup Day 10am to 2pm
Friday, October 29 Garden Aglow Sunset
Saturday, December 11 & Sunday, December 12 Historic Holiday House Tour 12 Noon to 4pm
Citizens Committee of the Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
Irises: A Gardener's Encyclopedia
Irises: Vincent Van Gogh in the Garden