The purpose of the New Vernon Garden Club is to promote learning in all areas of horticulture and to encourage practices that add to the beautification of our environment and its preservation for future generations. Membership to the club is open to men and women who live in Harding Township.
The New Vernon Garden Club is fully responsible for three of the public gardens in New Vernon: the Tunis-Ellicks Parlor Garden, the Sarah D. Ortman Park, and the George Washington Bicentennial Garden at the George Washington Triangle. The landscape architecture of the Tunis-Ellicks Parlor Garden is featured on the cover of the club’s Yearbook.
Tunis-Ellicks Parlor Garden
The Tunis-Ellicks Parlor Garden was established following the New Vernon Historical Society’s lease of Township property on the corner of Village and Millbrook Roads. The house, dating from the 1800s, underwent extensive renovation to restore it to its original condition. At that time, there were no gardens around the house, and the Historical Society wanted to establish a garden appropriate to the period. Cynthia Robinson – Historical Society member, landscape architect, and wedding floral designer – devised a “parlor garden” plan of clearly defined raised beds containing plants that would have been used at the time by the family for food, decoration, and medicine. Thus, each of the garden beds was designed for those purposes. Espaliered apple trees were planted along the side of the house. By current standards, this may appear rather exotic, but in the 1800s, it was a practical way to grow fruit trees in a confined area and also made picking the fruit considerably easier.
The Tunis-Ellicks House is used by the Club on special occasions. Every Active Member contributes at least one morning per year tending the Parlor Garden, which features plants that thrive in the sun.
Sarah D. Ortman Park
The Sarah D. Ortman Park is adjacent to the Tunis-Ellicks Parlor Garden and contains only plant material that is native to New Jersey. This enchanting garden features a meandering, circular walkway and small wooden benches. Many of the plants in the Park were rescued from areas slated for development that would otherwise have been lost. The Park features plants that thrive in the shade.
The Sarah D. Ortman Park was originally an unused municipal plot. The Township offered it to a Harding youth, who wished to create a pocket park as an Eagle Scout project. Ann Granbery, a local landscape architect, donated her services to draw up a plan, and various civic groups donated funds for the purchase of the original shrubs.
The New Vernon Garden Club has assumed responsibility for the Park. Its focus has evolved to feature native plants, and the Club is now experimenting with some endangered and difficult-to-grow natives.
George Washington Bicentennial Garden
This garden, which features drought- and deer-resistant plant material, is maintained by Club members with the help of the Department of Public Works. It is located in George Washington Triangle at the crossroads of our village where Glen Alpin, Village, Lee’s Hill, and Blue Mill Road intersect at the one and only stoplight in town.
Membership is open to all Harding Township residents regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity or religious affiliation. Interested gardeners are invited to attend any monthly meeting as a guest. For more information regarding membership, please email us at NVGCmembership@gmail.com