Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. and the Citizens Committee of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens invite the public to view an elaborate display of carved botanic, floral and Halloween themed pumpkins created by students at “Gardens Aglow” at the Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair. The free event will be held as follows:
Date: Friday, October 25, 2019
Rain Date: Saturday, October 26, 2019
Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
Place: Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
474 Upper Mountain Avenue
Upper Montclair, NJ
“The County of Essex is proud to showcase the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens during the autumn season. I invite you to visit the gardens and this unique and colorful jack-o-lantern display. Then, enjoy a glass of cider at sunset while watching the gardens glow,” DiVincenzo said.
Area high schools have been invited to demonstrate and showcase their creativity and carve pumpkins for the event. All jack-o-lanterns will be lit with candles and lined around the flower beds to help illuminate the gardens. Seasonal refreshments will be available.
Admission is free. For information, please call 973-268-3500.
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens were initially conceived in 1927 as a tribute to Frank Presby, an active local citizen who was an advocate of the arts and horticulture with a particular fondness of irises. He served on the Boards of the Montclair Art Museum and The American Iris Society. The Citizens Committee was formed simultaneously to be the overseers of the gardens and appointed Barbara Walther to chair the organization and curate the iris collection, a role she voluntarily played for 50 years. She collaborated with the American Iris Society to develop a collection that would not only represent the entire recorded history of the iris dating back to 1500, but also ensured the addition of the newest iris introductions every year. The gardens are now a living museum of iris and, as the largest public display of iris in the world, boast a collection of over 10,000 irises of 3,200 named cultivars. Presby showcases the Rainbow on the Hill of 100,000 blooms every May drawing thousands of admirers from around the world.
Essex County preserved the Iris Gardens and the Walther House, adjacent to the gardens, by adding the entire enclave to the historic Essex County Park System in April 2009. The Citizens Committee collaborates with the County by serving as the non-profit fundraising arm to financially support the annual costs associated with staffing and operating the iris gardens. The gardens and Walther House have been listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places since 1982.
The Essex County Park System was created in 1895 and is the first county park system established in the United States. The Park System consists of more than 6,000 acres and has 23 parks, five reservations, an environmental center, a zoo, Treetop Adventure Course, ice skating rink, roller skating rink, three public golf courses, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, five off-leash dog facilities, a castle and the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.