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Celebrating Frederick Law Olmsted


December 21, 2021

GC of Somerset Hills Funds Sensory Garden Entrance Gate

To celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the Garden Club of Somerset Hills (GCSH), New Jersey, took a close look at its neighboring parks and recreational facilities to find a worthwhile project to honor the landscape architect. The club chose the Raritan Headwaters sensory garden, providing funding to construct an entrance gate for the garden they helped create in 2019.

Raritan Headwaters, a nonprofit conservation organization and friend of GCSH since 1959, owns and operates the 170-acre Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, along with other preserves and natural areas. Considered a jewel by the community, the former dairy farm now serves as a living classroom, featuring five miles of hiking trails through fields and woods, a scenic pond with a fishing dock, a colorful bird and butterfly garden, two rain gardens, and a restored 1800s barn complex. 

In 2019, the decades-old connection between the two organizations brought to light plans for a sensory garden at Fairview farm as a means for visitors to engage in the outdoors, connect with nature, and learn about environmental stewardship. GCSH requested a grant from the New Jersey Committee of The Garden Club of America and funds were used to design the garden, establish pathways, remove invasive plants and diseased trees, and install benches and a water feature.

GCSH also recognized the need for a quality entrance to this beautiful natural space, which highlights native flora and fauna and encourages visitors to establish native plants in their own yards. In 2021, the club provided funding for the gate, as well as plants and volunteers for planting. The sensory garden gate is the product of two local organizations committed to nature and conservation, partnering in their common goal — a befitting tribute to Frederick Law Olmsted.

The Garden Club of America (GCA) is a proud founding partner of the Olmsted 200 bicentennial campaign. The GCA's contribution to the celebration is the unprecedented opportunity for all 199 GCA clubs to connect the needs of their communities with Olmsted’s revolutionary vision for parks and public landscapes by participating in the GCA’s initiative, PARKS: Where Nature Meets Community.  Each club project helps their local community public spaces while collectively celebrating Olmsted’s genius for public access to nature across the country.


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