Marquand Park is located in the western section of Princeton
Borough and is accessible from footpaths off Stockton
Street, Mercer Street, and from a parking lot on Lovers
The park, a beautiful 17-acre tract, includes woodlands,
forest glades, and open park land. The wide expanses of lawn
a magnificent setting for a grand display of specimen trees
and shrubs, an arboretum with such a great variety of domestic
and foreign species that it truly sets Marquand Park apart.
Many of the 200 species are tagged and mapped for visitors'
convenience . Eleven of the trees located here are the largest
of their kind in the state of New Jersey.
Most of the walks are paved, and all are suitable for wheelchair
use. The arboretum, playground, picnic area, and ball field make
Marquand a rewarding destination for visitors of all ages and
interests. A map near the parking lot shows the location of tree
specimens throughout the park.
Much of the credit for the creation of this area as an
arboretum must be given Judge Richard Field, a Princeton
University professor, who in 1842 bought 30 acres of farmland
which included the present Marquand Park. Field built an
impressive home, Guernsey Hall, and enlisted the help of
Commodore Stockton from Morven and Mr. Potter, who lived
at Prospect, to hire a famous English gardener named Petrey.
The group trans planted local trees and brought other rare
species from elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. Incense
cedar from the Sierra Nevadas, Norway spruces, cedar of
Lebanon, and European larches were among Judge Field's
plantings here. The property was acquired in 1871 by Mrs.
Susan Brown, who lived here with her son. The Browns shared
Judge Field's interest in horticulture, and planted both
Japanese maples and an Amur cork tree (No. 19) to expand
Professor Allan Marquand acquired the property in 1885 and,
with his wife, maintained and added to
the collection. Seventeen acres were given to the Borough in
1953 by the Marquand heirs "...for use as a public park, playground
and recreational area for the benefit of the people of the borough
of Princeton and its environs." In 1955, a planning report was
commissioned from landscape architects Clarke and Rapuano of
New York City and a non-profit foundation was organized to provide
oversight for the property. Since then, the foundation has purchased
or been given more than 100 specimens.
There are more specimen trees of interest than noted here,
but a feeling for the richness of Marquand's offerings can
be sensed immediately as the visitor enters the Park from the
Lovers Lane parking lot. On the northeastern border of the
parking area is a tree that is the largest of its species in
New Jersey, an empress tree (No. 2). This tree has pyramids
of pale violet blossoms early in the spring. Its wood is highly
valued in Japan for cabinetwork. Leaving the parking area on
the footpath, the first tree on the left is a small kobus magnolia
(No. 153), one of 11 magnolia species. (Most of the other magnolias
are found across the park in the northern corner.)
Two record-setting trees can be seen from here in the direction
of the baseball field; a Cilician fir from North Syria (No. 150)
and a Nordmann fir from Greece (No. 151). Farther along the path
branches, and 200 feet from this point is a specimen that is
stunning year-round, a threadleaf Japanese maple (No. 143). This
tree is remarkable for its contorted structure, and fern-like
leaves that cover the tree from spring into fall when they turn
a bright bronze. To the east of this tree you will notice a majestic
old white oak (No. 135) with wide spreading branches. Finally,
to the south and near the boundary of the park and the privately-owned
Guernsey Hall property stands a handsome cedar of Lebanon (No.
14). When Judge Field planted this tree in 1842, it was 10 feet
high and seven years old.
Other notable specimens are located further into the park. In
the northern corner, for example, stands an impressive dawn redwood
(No. 57), a deciduous conifer with bright green to bluish-green
leaves which turn a rich orange brown before dropping in the
fall. This is an ancient species that had been thought to be
extinct until a living tree was found in China in 1945. Seeds
from that tree were sent to the Arnold Arboretum and distributed
worldwide. James Clark, Princeton University horticulturist,
nurtured one of these seeds to produce this tree, which was planted
here in 1955.
On the northwest park boundary there is an Oriental spruce (No.
80), another of the largest of its species in New Jersey. It
is dense and more pyramidal than the Norway spruce, with which
visitors may be more familiar. Nearby is a blue atlas cedar (No.
83), which has distinctive blue-green needles in clusters of
7-10 on short spurs.
In contrast to the arboretum area are the natural woodlands
in the eastern area of the park along Mercer Street. Some of
the oldest trees in the park are found here, including tulip,
beech, hickory, and various oaks and maples.
Most of the birds which frequent the Princeton area have
been seen in the Park. Chickadees, titmice, cardinals,
bluejays, juncos, and woodpeckers are in the park all year,
along with an abundance of gray squirrels.
Use by large groups requires a permit from the Princeton
Recreation Department. Maps detailing all specimen trees
are available at Bainbridge House, the Princeton Historical
Society headquarters on Nassau Street.
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