Japanese Maples and More: Ambleside Gardens
Just like Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, no part of Ambleside Gardens looks like a regular nursery.
I discovered Ambleside Gardens in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey, last year when I was searching for a place to shop for Japanese maples. Their website said they had 125 varieties so it seemed like the place to go. Little did I know that I would find one of the most beautiful nurseries I have ever visited!
Nursery News: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is closed for the year. For announcements of spring 2017 events, please sign up for our customer email list by sending your full name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know if you are local or mail order only and if you are particularly interested in snowdrops or miniature hostas so we can put you on the right email list.
The main path through the nursery display area. All the shrubs and trees are for sale but are artfully displayed to create an intimate garden space.
Ambleside Gardens is a family business started in 1965 by the father of the current owner David Scudder. It bills itself as New Jersey’s most unusual garden center, and I would agree. The woody plants for sale are not lined up in rows for customers to select but are integrated into a lovely and intimate system of garden paths shaded by large trees and pergolas. Each specimen is placed to highlight its color, size, shape, and texture and to harmonize with the plants around it. The effect is magical.
Here are some views of the nursery displays:
David Scudder is the enthusiastic plantsman who makes all this magic. He knows the details of every plant in his inventory, and the arrangement of the gardens are a testament to this knowledge. He can also help you find exactly what you want. We were looking for an upright, white variegated Japanese maple to compliment the “floating cloud” maple in our woodland, and he immediately came up with every candidate available at the nursery—and there were many—and the pros and cons of each.
My husband Michael talking with Ambleside owner David Scudder.
But Ambleside is not just a Japanese maple nursery. David has assembled for sale an amazing collection of out-of-the-ordinary woody plants in mature sizes and unusual forms. If you are looking for an eye-catching centerpiece for your gardens, Ambleside is the place to go. As we wandered around admiring plants, David pointed out tree-form witch hazels and clethras, dwarf dawn redwoods and bald cypress, huge specimen fringe trees, exotic connifers, and much more.
Here were some of my favorites, but there are hundreds of specimens to drool over (and hundreds of smaller, less expensive woodies too):
An ‘Arnold Promise’ witch hazel grown as a tree—I would love to see this in bloom.
The beautiful cones and white dipped needles of a large Korean fir.
A 15′ tall, pink-flowered Japanese styrax.
The styrax in the previous photo is on the right side of the path. As you can see, there are many mature trees to choose from.
The Brick Farm Market in Hopewell, New Jersey, has indoor and outdoor seating and delicious food.
When you are done shopping at Ambleside, a delicious lunch awaits you at the charming Brick Farm Market, 15 minutes away in Hopewell, New Jersey. The market serves food grown locally and sustainably by the owners at their nearby Double Brook Farm. You can eat there and also purchase fresh meats, cheeses, baked goods, vegetables, and other delights to take home. They open at 7 am and serve an equally yummy breakfast.
Inside the Brick Farm Market
Enjoy your outing to Ambleside Gardens and be sure to tell David that I sent you!
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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.
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