Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center

Far Hills,


United States

Bamboo Brook Outdoor Education Center

The 100-acre Merchiston Farm was home to landscape architect Martha Brookes Hutcheson and her husband from 1911 to 1959. Inspired by European travel, Hutcheson used Beaux-Arts principles to create a formal garden surrounding the shingle-style, Colonial Revival house. A circular drive shaded by mature deciduous trees aligns with the front of the house, while an irregularly shaped pool sits adjacent to the drive. An open lawn situated directly behind the house on gently sloping terrain connects with a formal, slightly sunken circular pool with six radiating paths. Beyond the lawn lies an axial garden with a white cedar allée and parterres, adjacent to a tennis court. Hutcheson’s garden plan adapted native plant materials such as dogwood, lilac, sweet pepperbush and elderberry to an Italian Renaissance-inspired organizational scheme. Composed of surface swales, concrete curbs, cistern tanks, pipes, and catch basins, Hutcheson ingeniously constructed an intricate rainwater system which supplied her house, pools and gardens.

A straight road lined with elms and oaks extends from the house to a farm complex, including a barn, garage, farm house and various work yards. The informal landscape beyond the garden blends open fields with woods, cut by a winding trail that leads to a small natural brook. The farm was donated by Hutcheson’s heirs to the Morris County Parks Commission in 1972, which has undertaken restoration efforts of the grounds, including the replanting of over 100 trees, shrubs, and perennials. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

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