arboretum accreditation badgeGeorgian Court University was formerly the winter home of George Jay Gould, millionaire son of railroad tycoon Jay Gould. The architect Bruce Price was hired to transform the land, purchased in 1896, into a lavish country estate resembling an English estate of the Georgian period; therefore, it was named Georgian Court. In addition to designing the buildings, Bruce Price designed three of the four major gardens, which were created before 1910: the Classic or Italian Garden, the Sunken Garden or Lagoon, and the Formal Garden. The garden designer Takeo Shiota designed the Japanese Garden.  For aerial views the entire GCU campus, click here.

The Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate in 1924, moving their College of Mount Saint Mary to the site.  The college is now Georgian Court University.  The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark.

The arboretum, established in 1989, is named after Sister Mary Grace Burns and comprises the landscaped part of the campus (approx. 100 acres).  Our collection includes over 2,200 woody plants from over 190 species, representing most of the native species of the New Jersey Pine Barrens (New Jersey Pinelands) as well as a large number of nonnative plant species.  We have several species listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List, and several trees that are the largest of their kind in Ocean County.  Small Clethra alnifolia, holly and magnolia collections are located between the Italian Gardens and Formal Garden.

Because it is an integral part of the university campus, the arboretum is free, open daily and not marked by signs.  We welcome visitors from 8 am until dusk.  Please enter the arboretum via the main vehicular campus entrance off of 9th Street in Lakewood and tell the security staff you are here to see the arboretum.  Please download and print a copy of the two-page arboretum brochure (which also contains a map showing attraction locations) before you come to the campus (copies of this brochure are also available in the brochure holder along the sidewalk to the main entrance of Jeffries Hall at the front of parking lot A).  Consider also printing our 16-page, self-guided arboretum walking tour “history and guide” booklet (Feb. 2018 edition), which is designed to be used with the arboretum brochure.  Directions and a generic campus map (without arboretum attractions shown) are available by clicking here.  For what’s in bloom or colorful, click here. Because we have many deer and the gardens historically featured woody plants, statuary, and sculptures, we do not have many annuals or perennials.  The gardens are known for their overall themed designs and integration of historic statuary (many pieces that are several centuries old), sculptures, and woody plants.

Personal photographs for non-commercial purposes are permitted.  For information about the professional photography policy, please contact the Office of Conferences and Special Events at 732-987-2285.  Click here for the wedding/wedding photo policy. For more information about the arboretum itself, including guided tours (which can be arranged for a fee) or lists of the plant collection, please contact Dr. Michael Gross at 732-987-2373 or  Programs (including tours) open to the public are listed in GCU’s “Mosaic” publication (must register in advance) — there is one left in May:  May 19 Japanese Tea Experience.  Look for our fall guided tour in the fall edition of “Mosaic”, which will be available by early September.  Please help us support our efforts to restore the stunning Apollo Fountain by donating here:

The arboretum is a member of the American Public Gardens Association and the Garden State Gardens Consortium.  We participate in APGA’s Plant Protection Program. Our collection is included in the database maintained by Botanic Gardens Conservation International and we participate in BGCI conservation programs. We are also a cooperator in the Plant Conservation Alliance.  Consistent with the goals of the shortleaf pine initiative, we have planted 25 shortleaf pine seedlings since 2013. We were named to Best College Reviews list of the 50 Most Beautiful College Arboretums in 2015.  We have Level II accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.