Demonstration Gardens

Demo garden path #4

Nestled on over one acre in Watchung Reservation at the Trailside Nature and Science Center is a hidden gem of numerous garden beds and a greenhouse developed and maintained by Union County Master Gardeners since 1999. Stroll the grounds and discover ideas for your home garden by taking a walking tour of the demonstration gardens led by certified Master Gardeners.

Garden History

The property, originally settled as a farm in 1736 by the Badgley family, was acquired by the Union County Park Commission as part of the Watchung Reservation in 1930. It was initially used as a nursery and subsequently a occasional training site for youth horticulture by the NJ Department of Corrections. In 1998 the county asked the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program to develop the property into an educational demonstration garden site. A greenhouse was built in 2012 with funding by the County Open Space Trust Fund and donations from local foundations.

About Our Gardens

Over 24 themed garden plots provide a tranquil setting bordering the wooded trails in Watchung Reservation. The demonstration garden is designed to display a variety of landscape plantings. Additionally, it teaches different gardening and farming techniques for application back in your home garden. Volunteer Certified Master Gardeners maintain the gardens, including growing fresh produce for donation to local food pantries. Other activities include hosting children’s groups and educational programs for the general public. In May the Master Gardeners hold their signature fund-raising event, the Spring Garden Fair and Plant Sale.

Garden Tours

Tour our demonstration gardens at Watchung Reservation, Mountainside, NJ.

Free guided tours for groups of five or more are welcome. Tours last approximately 45 – 60 minutes and are available mid-May thru October. Please call 908-654-9854 ext. 2 to schedule.


The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County Demonstration Garden is located at 452 New Providence Rd, Mountainside, NJ. Directions to Trailside Nature & Science Center are located online at Take the service road to the left of the parking lot and proceed down to the Demonstration Gardens. Park on the side of the road.

Highlighted here are just a few of the numerous inviting gardens to see on the tour.