Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum

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United States of America - New Jersey - Lakewood

Institution Code:

BGCI Member: No

ArbNet Accredited: Level II

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden designed by Takeo Shiota in the early 1900s.
Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden designed by Takeo Shiota in the early 1900s.

About the Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum

Georgian 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 historic gardens: the Classic or Italian Gardens, the Sunken Garden or Lagoon, and the Formal Garden. The garden designer Takeo Shiota designed the Japanese Garden.

The sandy soils of the New Jersey Pine Barrens were not conducive to the cultivation of the exotic plants the Goulds wanted to grow. To provide rich topsoil, 5,000 carloads of fine loam were brought to Georgian Court from neighboring Monmouth County. George Gould died in 1923. The Sisters of Mercy of New Jersey bought the estate in 1924, moving their College of Mount Saint Mary to the site. The Gould family requested that the name of the estate be retained, so the college became Georgian Court University.

The arboretum, established in 1989, is named after Sister Mary Grace Burns, who was the chairperson of the biology department and professor of biology from 1927 to 1968. It comprises the landscaped part of the campus (approx. 100 acres). In addition to a large number of exotic plant species, the arboretum features a good collection of native plants of the New Jersey Pine Barrens (New Jersey Pinelands). Most of the pinelands plants are scattered throughout the arboretum. Most notably, we have a number of very large and old oaks (mostly chestnut, black and white) and pines (mostly shortleaf but also pitch).

Main Address:
Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum
Georgian Court University
900 Lakewood Avenue
New Jersey 08701 United States of America

Telephone: (732) 987-2373
Fax: (732) 987-2021
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Michael F. Gross
    Curator's Name: Michael F. Gross
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Michael F. Gross
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 5
    Educational Staff Number:
    Research Staff Number:
    Administration Staff Number:

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: Yes
    Status: State: No
    Status: Educational: Yes
    Status: Municipal: No
    Status: Satellite: No
    Status: Trust: No
  • Date founded: 1989
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: No
  • Landscaped Area: Yes
    Landscaped Area: Size: 100 Hectares
  • Total Area: 41 Hectares
    Latitude: 40.0973210
    Longitude: -74.2262190
    Annual Rainfall: 1050 mm
    Altitude: 25.00 Metres
  • Locality: Information
  • Locality: Garden Name: Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum of Georgian Court University
  • Local Address: Georgian Court University, 900 Lakewood Avenue
  • Locality: City: Lakewood
  • Locality: State: New Jersey

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: Yes
    Herbarium: Number of Specimens: 400
    Arboretum: Yes
    Arboretum Size: 41
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: No
    Seed Bank: No
    Published Plant Catalogue: No
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: No
    Retail Outlet: Shop: No
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: No
    Disabled access: Yes
  • Number of Visitors: 500

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 2200
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 315
  • Special Collections:Much of the collection consists of trees planted in the late 1800s (the most common species being Picea abies and Chamaecyparis pisifera), and native New Jersey pinelands species from the mid 1800s through 20th century (most commonly Pinus rigida, Pinus echinata, Quercus montana, Quercus alba, Quercus velutina; but we have all of the common uplands and mesic Pinelands tree species), but there are a variety of exotic species as well. Other collection features: Several species of native and exotic Quercus, about 16 trees that are the largest of their species in Ocean County, and small collections of Ilex, Magnolia, and Clethra.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Invasive Species Policy: Yes
    ABS Policy: No
    Plant Collection Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: Yes
    Medicinal Plant Programme: Yes
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: No
    Reintroduction Programme: No

Research Programmes

  • Biotechnology: No
    Plant Breeding: No
    Conservation - Biology: No
    Conservation - Genetics: No
    Data Management Systems and Information Technology: No
    Ecology: No
    Ecosystem Conservation: No
    Education: No
    Ethnobotany: No
    Exploration: No
    Floristics: No
    Horticulture: No
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: No
    Molecular Genetics: No
    Pollination Biology: No
    Restoration Ecology: No
    Seed/Spore Biology: No
    Systematics and Taxonomy: No
    Sustainability: No
    Pharmacology: No
    Agriculture: No
    Land Restoration: No
    Urban Environments: No

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: No
    Education Signs in Garden: Yes
    Public Lectures/Talks: No
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Yes
    Guided Tours: Yes
    Permanent Public Displays: No
    Special Exhibitions: No
    Courses for School Children: No
    Courses for University/College Students: Yes
    Courses for General Public: No
    Education Programme: Yes

Demonstrating the restoration of New Jersey Pinelands

The Sister Mary Grace Burns Arboretum has restored a small (1 ha) area of remnant New Jersey Pinelands forest found on the campus.  Invasive species have been removed and species found in surrounding similar habitat that were probably present at one time but have been extirpated have been introduced.

The site is managed to reduce shade in one part of the habitat to maximize habitat diversity (in the absence of fires, which are currently suppressed but would historically have been an occasional occurrence).  Exclosures and tree trunk protectors are maintained to prevent damage from a large deer population.  In addition, another small area on a highly visible part of the campus has been restored as a native Pinelands species display garden.  The staff member responsible has been teaching courses on the native ecosystems for 20 years and is applying that knowledge to restoration efforts. Please contact Michael Gross for more information about this project.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) has been reintroduced into restoration sites

Turkey beard (Xerophyllum asphodeloides) is now present in the restoration sites