Arboretum and Gardens

History

Liberty Hall’s storied history began in 1760 when a large tract of land in Elizabethtown, New Jersey, was purchased by William Livingston, a prominent New York attorney intending to retire from public life, take up farming and embrace the solitude of country life.   Livingston became New Jersey’s first elected Governor in 1776 and, although the American Revolution upended his retirement plans, his keen interest in botany and agriculture never waned. The magnificent Horse Chestnut tree which stands just outside the front door of Liberty Hall was indeed one of the seeds he obtained from England. It is over 250 years old today and one of the oldest trees in New Jersey. You can also find a Bartlett pear tree and Seckel pear tree among the oldest of their kind in New Jersey, all right here on the grounds of Liberty Hall. The house he built on the property was lived in by his descendants, the Kean family, until 1995. As each generation of residents added to the exquisite planting schemes Livingston laid out, a truly unique garden took shape, making Liberty Hall a living archive of over 250 years of American garden design. Liberty Hall opened as a museum and historic garden in 2000 following the wishes of its last resident, Mary Alice (Barney) Kean.

In 2021, Liberty Hall became recognized as a Level II Arboretum through ArbNet. The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is the only global initiative to recognize arboreta based on a set of professional standards officially. To become recognized as a Level II Arboretum, Liberty Hall satisfied stringent criteria, including having a collection with a minimum of 100 species, varieties, or cultivars of trees or woody plants, as well as enhanced educational and public programming.

Liberty Hall’s gardens are also part of the Garden State Gardens, a consortium of New Jersey’s public gardens.

We offer guided garden tours Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 3 pm (April – October), as well as self-guided arboretum tours year-round, Sunday – Saturday, 10 am – 3 pm.   All guided tour tickets must be pre-purchased at least 1 hour before the scheduled tour time.

Take a Stroll

Formal Gardens

Our English parterre garden features a full-length maze, providing optimal views of a wide variety of trees, woody ornamentals, and carefully chosen perennials to give an entire four-season interest.

 

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Magnolia Rectangle

Herb Garden

Many of our herbs were grown during Governor Livingston’s day. Take in the crisp scent of Basil, Rosemary, Bee Balm, Echinacea, and Lamb’s Ear.

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Colonial Herb Garden

Serpentine Path

Unusual for traditional gardening practices, the Serpentine Path provides a fun rambling path through the grounds with beautiful vantage points of our historic buildings.

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View of the Carriage House from the Serpentine Path

Flowers & Rose Garden

Liberty Hall’s charming English Rose Garden is home to many extraordinarily fragrant and continuous blooming roses. In addition, you can find lilies, peonies, sedum, and phlox gracing the historic gardens from spring until frost.

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English Rose Garden

Orchard

The first apple tree was planted at Liberty Hall in 1760 by William Livingston.  Today, the Orchard boasts both heirloom and modern varieties, reflecting three generations of apple cultivation.

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Apple Orchard

Purchase a Potted Piece of New Jersey History!

Liberty Hall is selling a potted piece of New Jersey history! We partnered with the NJ Department of Forestry to propagate 168 offspring of our iconic Horse Chestnut Tree, planted by Susan Livingston in 1770! For a limited time, patrons can purchase a Horse Chestnut seedling, along with step-by-step instructions for planting & maintenance, and information on the rich history of the tree. 

Click here to purchase your Horse Chestnut today!

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Horsechestnut Seedlings