The 170 varieties of irises are at their peak in Gray’s Iris Garden on Upper Saddle River Road in Montvale, N.J., just over the border from Rockland.
The Gray family, which has been growing irises here since 1924, has a wonderful public spirit about their garden and they keep it open to any and all from dawn to dusk each day. Admission is always free.
The best bloom time will be from now until June 10, Stan Gray says.
Here are a few shots of Stan in the garden that our Peter Carr took a couple of years ago.
At its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, Gray’s Iris Garden at 140 Upper Saddle River Road in Montvale, stocked more than 550 varieties of iris and gained distinction as one of the largest iris gardens in the tri-state area, says Gray, whose parents, Etheline and Charles Gray, created the garden.
If you love irises, you really should go.
Here’s the email I just got from Stan, with rules, directions etc.:
It is my pleasure to announce that GrayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Iris Garden is once again open to the public this year, and will remain so throughout the bloom period (roughly through the third week in June). Slow to develop, the unfolding of the bloom has been dramatically accelerated by the heat of the past 4-5 days and from a mere handful of flowers last Thursday we now have more than 170 varieties blooming. Unfortunately, the devastating ice storm of the St. PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Day period destroyed well over 50% of the bloom potential this year. However, although sparser than normal, there are still many beautiful award-winning iris for you to enjoy. Please pass this notice on to family, friends, colleagues, and other organizations, as we want to share the results of our work and the beauty of tall-bearded iris with all during the few short weeks that the display is at its best. Best viewing should be from now until June 10, of course depending on weather conditions. Peak bloom could be within 3-4 days.
A FEW RULES AND REQUESTS: I encourage you to visit our garden multiple times in order to see all the varieties at their peak performance. Throughout the bloom, the garden is yours to enjoy from dawn until dark seven days a week. There is NO need to call ahead, and we offer our display at no admission cost Just wander at your leisure. The house is currently being rented by a non-family member. She is very amenable to having visitors on the property, but please respect her rights of occupancy. One or more members of the Gray family will be in the garden from June 2 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 9, and we look forward to seeing you.
Please park along Upper Saddle River Road so as not to obstruct local traffic. The road is quite narrow and parking on both sides of the street is not permitted. Be aware that there is currently construction on the left side of the road adjacent to the property. Therefore, I suggest parking on the garden side of the road. Also, do not park in our driveway.
We really encourage the use of our garden as a forum for photographers and artists of all medium. We do hope you will consider sharing your photos with us, or showing us your completed works. For all digitized renditions, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will honor all rules of proper attribution, and always ask your permission first if wishing to use your work (for non-commercial purposes only of course). Many of you have shared your wonderful artistic/photographic interpretations of the flowers and garden with us in the past, and I want too thank all of you for your kind gestures.
In order for photographers in particular to capture their subjects, it may be necessary to step into the iris beds. Please do so carefully, so as not to damage any plants, flowers, or name markers. I ask that all refrain from stepping into the beds unless unavoidable.
We encourage families to enjoy our property (it was a great place to grow up as a kid!). Please, however, ensure that your children do not run through the gardens.
SUMMER SALE: We will be holding an extensive iris sale on a weekend day probably in mid-August; I will publish the specifics via e-mail as soon as determined.
P.S. Ã¢â‚¬â€œ DIRECTIONS: In case you have forgotten how to find us, we are at 140 Upper Saddle River Road, Montvale, NJ 07645. You may want to go to a service such as www.mapquest.com and use the address as your destination. Otherwise, here are the directions from major area highways:
FROM THE SOUTH: take the Garden State Parkway north to Exit 172. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left onto Grand Avenue, and proceed to the first traffic light. Turn right onto Chestnut Ridge Road, and proceed north for approx. 1.0 mile. Turn right onto Upper Saddle River Road. The garden is on your right, just around the first bend in the road.
FROM THE NORTH: Go south on the New York State Thruway towards NYC. Take Exit 14A, the Garden State Parkway exit, towards New Jersey. Proceed on the Garden State until just before crossing the state line. Exit at Schoolhouse Road. At the bottom of the ramp, make a left, and go a short distance before turning right onto DeSalvo Court. DeSalvo becomes Foxhill Road. Stay on Foxhill til the T-intersection with Upper Saddle River Road. Then turn right and follow the road, which bends to the right. The garden is 300 yards ahead on the left.
FROM THE EAST: Cross the Tappan Zee Bridge, traveling west on the New York State Thruway (I-287/I-87). Prior to the toll at Monsey, take Exit 14A, the Garden State Parkway exit, towards New Jersey. Proceed on the Garden State until just before crossing the state line. Exit at Schoolhouse Road. At the bottom of the ramp, make a left, and go a short distance before turning right onto DeSalvo Court. DeSalvo becomes Foxhill Road. Stay on Foxhill til the T-intersection with Upper Saddle River Road. Then turn right and follow the road, which bends to the right. The garden is 300 yards ahead on the left.
FROM THE WEST: Take I-80, I-78 (or any other major east-west route) until you reach the Garden State Parkway. Continue directions as “From the South”.
FROM NYC AND LONG ISLAND: Cross the George Washington Bridge and take Route 4 West. Follow signs for the garden State Parkway North. Take The Garden State to Exit 172. At the bottom of the ramp, turn left and proceed to the first stoplight. Make a right onto Chestnut Ridge Road and proceed 1.3 miles to Upper Saddle River Road. Turn right and proceed to the garden, at the first bend to the right.