Greenwood Gardens, in Short Hills, New Jersey is an elegant garden in the eclectic Beaux-Arts style of the early 20th century. The garden is 28 acres of designed and naturalistic landscape that includes formal Italianate water gardens, rustic stone summerhouses, long allées of majestic plane trees, wildflower meadows, and pristine woodlands. Greenwood is surrounded by 2,100 acres of preserved parkland, set in one of the most densely populated regions of the country.
The property was a private estate until 2002, when the owners began collaborating with the Garden Conservancy to create a public garden that would foster an appreciation of the property and promote an understanding of conservation and stewardship of the land. This successful partnership resulted in a great public garden and horticultural resource for the New York metropolitan area.
The Foundation for Landscape Studies recognizes Peter and Sofia Blanchard with the Place Keeper Award for their success in converting Greenwood Gardens into a membership organization open to the public.
Peter P. Blanchard III publishes Greenwood: A Path to Nature and the Past, a history of Greenwood Gardens, including stories of the Day and Blanchard families.
A renovated, refurbished, and replanted Greenwood Gardens opens to the public on a regular basis for the first time.
Construction to upgrade facilities and restore parts of the garden commences, during which time Greenwood is closed to the public.
An ambitious 10-year restoration plan commences, the first phase of which includes new utilities and new restroom access.
The Garden Conservancy concludes 18 months of direct management and turns over all operational responsibility to Greenwood. The tea house garden is restored, a modern swimming pool is removed, and two early twentieth-century cottages are stablized.
Greenwood Gardens opens its gates to the public for guided tours.
The Garden Conservancy enters into partnership with the newly formed nonprofit organization The Greenwood Gardens to preserve Greenwood and share it with the public. The Garden Conservancy assumes temporary management and administrative responsibility for the property.
The Garden Conservancy board of directors nominates Greenwood Gardens as a preservation project.
Peter Blanchard dies (his wife had predeceased him in 1956). His son, Peter P. Blanchard lll, and daughter-in-law, Sofia, proceed with plans to carry out his wish for long-term preservation of the property.
The core of the original estate is sold to Peter B. Blanchard, Jr., and his wife, Adelaide Frick Blanchard. The Blanchards demolish the crumbling villa, build a new Colonial Revival-style home in its place, and change the name to The Greenwoods. Over the years, Blanchard improves the gardens, laying out new allèes, planting hundreds of ornamental trees and shrubs, and adding ponds and garden sculpture.
Joseph Day dies and Pleasant Days is divided into parcels.
The first house is destroyed by fire and Day erects a grandiose stucco Mediterranean-style mansion to replace it. The new house is designed by William Renwick, nephew of the renowned American architect James Renwick.
Joseph P. Day, the leading real estate auctioneer of the time, and his wife, Pauline Pope, buy a 79-acre country estate and name the residence and the gardens Pleasant Days.
For more information, visit greenwoodgardens.org.
Greenwood Gardens offers a variety of public programs and events for adults and children, ranging from nature photography workshops and horticultural lectures to birding walks and jazz concerts. The Garden Conservancy continues to advise and work with garden's board and staff as the garden grows and evolves.
Hortus magazine (UK), autumn 2019 edition, published a feature article, "A Garden of the Gods," by landscape historian Judith Tankard on Greenwood Gardens.
Greenwood: A Garden Path to Nature and the Past
An illustrated history of Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ, published in June 2016 by founder Peter Blanchard. Available at the garden's shop. greenwoodgardens.org