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anne mikolay 2018You wouldn’t think children would enjoy walking through gardens, admiring flowers and specimen trees, but throw in a koi pond, a picnic table, some fairies and gnomes, and you have the ingredients of a fun – and free! – family outing! You’ll find it all at Deep Cut Gardens, Red Hill Road, Middletown.

Deep Cut Gardens has an interesting history. 1935, Vito Genovese (yes, that Genovese) purchased the property now known as Deep Cut and fashioned the grounds in a pseudo-Italian style reminiscent of Naples, Italy, where he was born. Fast forward eighteen years, and the property was in the hands of Karl and Marjorie Wihtol. Marjorie resided at Deep Cut Farm until 1977, and willed half the property to the Monmouth County Park System for horticultural purposes upon her death. On September 14th, 1978, the property was dedicated as a facility devoted to the enjoyment and education of the home gardener.

Deep Cut Gardens, now 54 acres of gardens and greenhouses, is a dream land for photographers and nature lovers. Winding paths reveal seasonal flowers; the renovated Parterre boasts 52 varieties of roses and over 180 bushes, and the lily pond is well stocked with koi. Little ones will enjoy watching the pond for the tell-tale bubbles that reveal the frogs’ hiding places, and the lily pond is a great spot to teach children about nature’s camouflage. While there are paved, flower-lined walkways at Deep Cut, the property also features more secluded hiking paths. Picnic tables (clean!), some in the shade, some in the sun, are available. 

The Deep Cut staff has come up with a delightful activity for children and the young at heart: hunting garden gnomes! A visit to Deep Cut’s All-American Garden is not complete without locating the gnomes and garden fairies hidden within. A gnome checklist and pencils are available in the mailbox beside the All-American Garden’s gate (close the gate behind you; keep the rabbits out!). Visitors are encouraged to find the nineteen resin garden residents hidden among the budding flowers and vegetables, a surprisingly difficult task! I’ve all but given up trying to find Houdini! Yes, the gnomes have names, which adds to the garden’s charm.

While families are welcome at Deep Cut Gardens, furry family members, with the exception of certified service animals, are not permitted. Leave Fido home for the afternoon, and spend a few hours communing with nature!