PHOTO – The pond at Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown
LINCROFT— Spring is officially here and there’s no better place to enjoy it than in the Monmouth County Park System. From early morning rounds of golf to long evenings around the campfire at Turkey Swamp Park, the Park System offers countless ways to fill the season with fun.
“The golf courses are open, the campground is ready, and the gardens are starting to bloom! It’s springtime in the parks and, perhaps, the loveliest time of year. The Monmouth County Park System wants you to enjoy every minute of the season by visiting its parks, playgrounds, historic sites, and trails,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Park System.
One of the best places to get the most out of the season is at one of the Park System’s golf courses. Get back into the swing of the game by teeing off at Hominy Hill Golf Course in Colts Neck. Often rated among New Jersey’s top public courses, Hominy Hill offers some of the best golfing around. The Park System’s other golf courses – Bel-Aire in Wall, Charleston Springs in Millstone, Howell Park in Farmingdale, Pine Brook in Manalapan and Shark River in Neptune – allow golfers of all levels to enjoy a challenging round. Those just getting started or looking to improve their game can sign up for any of the Park System’s golf lessons listed in the Program Directory.
A great way to experience spring in the parks is to spend the night at the campground in Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold. From fishing in the lake to telling stories around the campfire, campers will be busy from morning to night. Open April 1 through November 15, the campground features tent and trailer sites as well as several primitive cabins. Per night campsite rates are $36 for county residents and $40 for non-residents. County residents can rent a cabin for $62 a night while non-residents pay $72 per night.
Although Turkey Swamp Park is beautiful this time of year, there’s nowhere is colorful as Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown. Gardeners and non-gardeners alike will enjoy wandering the paths of this breathtaking site and seeing spring in bloom. Each spring, this site hosts the Great Spring Perennial Plant Swap. Held from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, the event invites home gardeners to bring plants in one-quart, one-gallon or two-gallon containers and take home the same size and number of plants. The Park System is also hosting its Spring Craft Show on that day from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. across the street at the Tatum Park Red Hill Activity Center, Middletown.
Another not-to-miss spot is the arboretum in Holmdel Park, Holmdel with its crabapple and cherry trees. While at Holmdel Park, stop by Historic Longstreet Farm and see its staff dressed in period clothes tending this living history farm. Spring brings Wool Days/Sheep Shearing to the farm from 12-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24. This annual demonstration allows visitors to see the work of an old-fashioned sheep shearer.
The Park System’s other historic site, Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold, is once again holding weekend mill demonstrations April through November. The site will host its annual open house, Walnford Day, from 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. During this family-friendly event, visitors can tour the Waln House from top to bottom, see ongoing demonstrations, and enjoy hands-on activities.
Other highlights of the season include Earth Day and the Creative Arts & Music Festival. The Park System honors Earth Day with ongoing activities from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday, April 24 at various parks throughout the county. The Creative Arts & Music Festival is held from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 30 & May 1 at Thompson Park, Lincroft. This juried arts festival features specially selected artists’ works of pottery, photography, jewelry, paintings and other mediums. Besides the artwork, visitors will enjoy live music and art activities including a plein air painting competition.
To learn more about the Park System’s offerings, visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com or call 732-842-4000. The TTY/TDD number for persons with hearing impairment is 711. The Monmouth County Park System, created in 1960 by the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, is Monmouth County’s Open Space, Parks and Recreation agency.