Van Vleck House & Gardens
Montclair, New Jersey
May 2008

Van Vleck House & Gardens is a beautiful estate in the New York suburbs.
Van Vleck entrance

The main estate house was built by Joseph Van Vleck in 1916 in the style of an Italian villa. In 1993, the heirs of Howard Van Vleck gave the property to The Montclair Foundation and it opened to the public.


Van Vleck Mansion

The 5.8 acre gardens have numerous beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons. Howard Van Vleck, the last private owner, was an amateur hybridizer of rhododendrons. Many of the plants haave identification lables, but I would have liked to see some interpretation about Van Vleck's breeding efforts. I know there are several rhododendron cultivars named for Van Vleck's but I couldn't find any on the grounds. A planting of Van Vleck's hybrids and a display of cultivars named for family members would be a great interpretive tool

azalea flower

The gardens are a series of beautiful grassy glades each surrounded by trees and shrubs.

flowering scene

The highlight of the gardens is an ancient and gigantic Chinese wisteria climbing over the back courtyard. The trunk is enormous.
wisteria trunk

The climbing vines give the whole scene the effect of an ancient ruin.

wisteria courtyard

This would be a beautiful place to bring a book and sit for a few hours but touring the gardens can easily be done in an hour.

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