Rockaway Valley Garden Club
Boonton Township, New Jersey
Garden Club of New Jersey
Wildflower Trail at Tourne Park
Early in 1961, the Rockaway Valley Garden Club decided it was important to identify the abundant variety of native wildflowers growing in The Tourne, a county park in Boonton Township. Under the direction of club member and botanist Emilie K. Hammond, members began work to establish a wildflower trail, paths were made, and plants labeled. In 1972, the Trail was dedicated by the Morris County Park Commission and named after its founder Emilie K. Hammond.
Over the years, Club members and other volunteers, as well as member of the Garden Club of Mountain Lakes, have worked to map the trail, to keep the trail free of invasive species, to label and protect the plants, to replenish the trail with nursery propagated native plants, conduct tours, and to do the necessary upkeep in the early spring. In 1973, when it became obvious that the future of the Trail was threatened by plans for a massive reservoir near the Trail, members joined a coalition which was successful in having the proposal rejected. Many years later, another threat appeared in the form of herds of deer which enjoyed feeding on the tender woodland plants. In 1998, when the level of deer browse became unacceptable, members gained help from the Park Commission and the Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum to enclose the Wildflower Trail with fencing and two pedestrian gates. Since then, weekly fence inspections are conducted by Club members who will alert the Park staff to fallen trees that jeopardize the enclosure.
A kiosk-type bulletin board at the entrance, maintained by the Club, welcomes visitors with information on seasonal displays and information about plants in bloom. Trail guides designed by members are available at the kiosk. For members an important and enjoyable aspect of work on the Trail is the appreciation we receive from visitors, as well as from the children and adults in our tour groups.
In recognition of the educational benefits of the Trail, the Club has received awards from both the Garden Club of New Jersey and the National Garden Clubs. Recently, we were pleased to present a check, representing our latest award, to the Park Commission to help insure the future maintenance of the Trail’s deer fence.
To document changing seasons at the Trail, a Club member has placed on YouTube a short video of Summertime at the Trail. It can be viewed at this unlisted link: youtu.be/anx91zGGbE0