Presby Iris Gardens, Upper Montclair

4.7
#65 of 138 in Parks in New Jersey
Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is a nonprofit, volunteer-run living museum specializing in iris flowers, located at 474 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair in Essex County, New Jersey, New Jersey, United States. The gardens are situated on 6.5 acres. Adjacent to the gardens is a Victorian house, the Walther House. The house is open to the public and is home to a museum shop and headquarters for the Citizens Committee that oversees the gardens.Following financial problems in 2008 and 2009, ownership of the gardens was transferred to Essex county, who bought the Walther House for $1.1 million in order to give the gardens a better financial standing. The county then leased the gardens back to the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens for $1. While Essex County owns the property, the actual iris beds are maintained without taxpayer funds. Rather, they are maintained by private donations and volunteer effort.DescriptionThe Gardens are in a park-like setting and open to the public without charge. Donations, however, are greatly appreciated. Each year Presby has over 10,000 visitors. Normally, the blooming season is May 14 to June 4. Check the Presby website (see External Links below) for the exact status of the current season. The gardens were established in 1927 to honor Frank Presby, a noted horticulturalist and a founding member of the American Iris Society. This world-class collection now includes approximately 10,000 individual plants, representing 6 species and over 3,000 different named varieties of irises. It is the largest non-commercial garden dedicated to irises in the world.VandalismIn August 2005, 157 historic rhizomes were vandalized. One year later, Montclair Police were tipped off to the culprits who were later arrested and sentenced. The three men, minors at the time, had clubbed the plants practicing golf swings, while intoxicated. In 2008, a theft was attempted on some irises, by removing them and putting them in a plastic bag, but they were recovered.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
60 reviews
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4.4
TripAdvisor
  • July 22, 2017
    The gardens are well maintained and the irises are in full bloom in May. They request a small donation when the flowers are in bloom. In June they frequently offer to sell the iris rhizomes (bulbs) th...  more »
  • July 19, 2017
    When the irises bloom, you must take a trip to the Presby Gardens. Hundreds of tall irises in every color and pattern, varieties seen rarely elsewhere. Bring your camera and a picnic lunch. Irises blo...  more »
  • June 21, 2017
    We went late June when many of the irises were past their best. Even so, it is absolutely delightful. The display of different varieties is amazing and my wife (who is the flower connoisseur) was very...  more »
Google
  • June 9, 2017
    I expected this place to be huge, but I was surprised it was rather small. It is a cute quick visit, but not really something to plan a whole trip around/ plan a day out with. Very pretty flowers though & it does make for nice close up photography.
  • May 20, 2017
    I came just right time! There are so many different iris I've never seen before. The garden isn't big but I really enjoyed. There is a donation box near by the entrance.
  • June 5, 2017
    Spectacular iris garden, very special, worth a trip. There is surely nothing like it anywhere in the area. Mid - May to early June is the season for full bloom.
  • May 21, 2017
    Never disappoints. Beautiful. Many thanks to all the volunteers who keep it running.
  • January 3, 2017
    Yesterday was a prime day for this beautiful garden. Almost every iris was in bloom. I wasn't aware there is a tent set up with volunteers requesting $8.00 donation from each person. It was worth it for the chance to walk among hundreds of varieties of irises, cared for by volunteers.

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