Reeves-Reed Arboretum’s Wesson Family Nature Grove Dedication in Summit, NJ

SUMMIT, NJ — The Board of Trustees of Reeves-Reed Arboretum recently announced the opening of the Wesson Family Nature Grove. Thanks to the generosity of the Bruce Wesson family, the area around the historic European Beech tree, more affectionately known as the Elephant Tree, has been transformed into an outdoor children’s classroom. The Beech tree has become the symbol for all of the Arboretum’s children’s education programs. The Wesson family, along with trustees, staff, members and friends of the Arboretum gathered on July 20 to dedicate this new educational space. Mayor Glatt was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony, which was followed by a family picnic.

The design and rehabilitation of the area were provided by Cording Landscape Design of Towaco. Seating for storytelling and picnic tables were created out of natural stone. The area was replanted and paths were created to connect the nature grove to the fish pond which is highlighted by a whimsical hummingbird sculpture, designed by noted artist Adrienne Yorinks and fabricated by Dan Kalb. Lighting for the area was donated by Carney Electric of Summit. A viewing scope will be installed at the edge of the pond to allow children, and adults, to observe the many birds and butterflies that spend the summer in the wildlife habitat. Other funding for the project was received from Elissa and Michael O’Rourke for the sculpture and the NJ Committee of the Garden Club of America for plant material. L’Oreal, USA provided volunteer teams that did much of the labor.

“Children’s education is a major part of the Arboretum’s mission and the Elephant Tree creates a natural feeling of being in a room or a special secret space. It is a lovely and protected area ideal for children to learn about the natural world,” said Gayle Petty-Johnson, Arboretum Executive Director. “We truly appreciate this tremendous gift from the Wesson family and the many others who helped make the Nature Grove a reality.”

Reeves-Reed Arboretum is the only public garden and one of the largest green spaces in the City of Summit. It is the only arboretum in Union County. The Arboretum seeks to engage, educate and enrich its visitors so they may become better stewards of nature and the environment. This mission is achieved through the care and utilization of an historic estate and gardens. Reeves-Reed Arboretum is listed on both the National and New Jersey Historic Registries and has received funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission. For more information, please visit the website at