Rutgers Gardens is a place I never would have known about if I hadn't seen it on another blog, but when I found out that this botanical garden wasn't too far from us, we decided to check it out.
For more information about Rutgers Gardens and Helyar Woods, including maps, visit their website here.
Rutgers Gardens is open 365 days a year, and there's no entrance fee! Not only do they host public events like farmers markets, but the Gardens also provide educational opportunities for Rutgers students.
Although it was smaller than I thought it would be, there was still plenty to look at. There are several small gardens and groves of different tree types. Cute benches are strategically located throughout the property. We started at the bamboo garden and then headed to the shrub garden. In a memorial garden we found these two massive Adirondack chairs, which Tom refused to climb in so I could get a picture of him (JK!). There were also a couple lovely gazebos.
We then went over to Frank G. Helyar Woods, which is attached to the botanical garden. Although there are smaller blazed trails, we stuck to the main Pond/Forest Trail (we tried one of the smaller trails, but it was overgrown with lots of downed trees). The main trail was really easy to walk and pretty flat except for one drop down into a ravine. At some points we could see glimpses of Westons Mill Pond.
After the pine forest the trail opens out into a meadow, and there's actually a small maze carved into the brush. At this point in the year, the plant growth was probably about 3 feet high, so it would be fun for kids to run through while still being able to see them.
The main trail is less than a mile, so it didn't take us long to finish. Although it was a short visit, I'm glad we checked out Rutgers Gardens. And since it's free, I wouldn't mind coming back at different points during the year to see the flowers changing with the seasons.