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Sayen House & Gardens is a charming estate and botanical garden located in Hamilton, NJ. While the house is now used primarily for weddings, the grounds are open to all and make for a delightful stroll on a nice day.
The estate was created in 1912, when Frederick Sayen, owner of the nearby Mercer Rubber Company, built a house and began populating the the 30 acres on which it sat with flowers gathered from his world travels. It passed into the hands of Hamilton Township, and opened as a public park in 1991. Now, it’s set of charming, loping paths that wend around beds of daffodils, tulips, azaleas, and rhododendrons, as well as a serene pond and a series of densely wooded areas.
On a Spring day, the air at Sayen wafts with the perfume of the thousands of flowers that are blooming at once. As you stroll through the lush flora, you may find a few surprise specimens–there are some delightful and unusual plants here that I hadn’t seen before. The park has more than 250,000 flowering bulbs, and over 1,000 azaleas (which are typically in full bloom during their annual Mother’s Day Azalea Festival). During the Fall, there’s beautiful foliage to see.
The walking here is easy, and far more suited to a leisurely meander than to a purposeful hike. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour to appreciate it fully, and a bit more if you want to spend some time in the woods. Even the densely-wooded areas have relatively simple footing, and you’re never too far from the parking lot or bathrooms. Bikes are allowed (though only at a careful speed), though on a weekend day the park can be crowded enough that cycling would be hazardous.
If you’re interested in renting the house for a wedding or other ceremony, the prices are reasonable (and even more so for township residents, who receive a steep discount). You can also get a permit for wedding photography or an outdoor ceremony–all that information is available on Sayen’s website. But don’t be surprised if you find me wandering through the estate while you’re celebrating your special day. I’ll try not to photo-bomb your wedding shots…