Florham Campus recognized for tree conservation efforts

Florham Campus is an arboretum

Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus has been awarded Arboretum Level I status by ArbNet, “the interactive community of arboreta.” The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program recognizes professional standards to advance the planting and conservation of trees. The accreditation for the Florham Campus remains in effect until 2022.

History of the estate

Hennessy Hall, the Twomblys’ mansion, behind holly bushes and oak trees.

In 1887, Hamilton and Florence Twombly came to the quiet Morris County countryside, and built an English-style country mansion in a stately park setting. Today, that estate — with a name that pays homage to its original owners — forms the heart of the Florham Campus.  The design of the original estate was conceived by the architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and the landscape designers Olmsted Associates.

American lindens line the drive that leads into campus.

Notable landscape architects who contributed to the landscape include: Frederick Law Olmsted, the Olmsted brothers, Warren H. Manning, and Brinley and Holbrook. Arthur Herrington, a noted horticulturalist and plant breeder who came to Florham from Kew Gardens, England, managed the landscape and greenhouses.

“This accreditation recognizes the beauty of the campus and the wide variety of tree specimens we enjoy seeing and walking among. It is a legacy dating back to the time when the Twombly family owned the estate and many of these trees were selected and planted, and to the very beginning when Frederick Law Olmstead designed the grounds,” said Brian Mauro, interim Florham Campus executive.

Among the many trees represented

The main entrance is flanked to the left by weeping European beech leading to an allée of American linden. Southern Japanese hemlock, western hemlock, Washington English yew, and a grove of Japanese false cypress grace the approach to Hennessy Hall. Adorning the great lawn are two large specimens of cedar of Lebanon, a large Nordmann fir, a large weeping Canadian hemlock, and a spectacular linden (Tilia ‘Petiolaris’). There is a large collection of common boxwood. To the north west of Hennessy Hall stand oaks that originated prior to the estate development, plotted on the 1890 topographic site survey. Others trees on campus include: Atlas cedar, Higan cherry, Japanese maple, dawn redwood, oriental spruce, sweetgum, and Japanese pagoda tree.

Japanese maples bear colorful leaves every autumn in the Olmsted Cutleaf Maple Grove.

Level I status requires the institution seeking status to have an arboretum plan, an organizational group, a collection of at least 25 species of woody plants, a staff or volunteers to carry out the plan, and a degree of public access. Other institutions with Level I status may include golf courses, college arboreta, cemeteries, zoos, private estates and towns.

In April of 2018, the Arbor Day Foundation added another honor, naming the Florham Campus a 2017 Tree Campus USA. The program, launched in 2008, honors colleges and universities for promoting healthy trees and engaging their community in the spirit of conservation. The Florham Campus met the five core standards for effective forest management including establishment of a tree advisory committee, evidence of a campus tree-care plan, dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program, and Arbor Day observance, and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.