In 1978, Peter Amato and his father Anthony turned their part-time lawn-care business into a full-time botanical operation, expanding their employment team and developing a body of horticultural knowledge that would lead to stunning, custom landscape designs. Today, the floral hub sits on a 6-acre nursery, and the staff has shifted its focus from lawns to outdoor living spaces. The nursery blooms with flowers and plants ready to be picked up by customers and brought home to their backyards, while in the gift shop, shoppers browse an enormous selection of figurines, lights, and decorative accents. Clients may call upon the designers' artistry to discuss possible outdoor makeovers or peruse the website's extensive landscape resources and visit the greenhouse to curate their own gardens.
Owner Dennis McNamara's love of nature and sustainable gardening bloomed into a full-time endeavor when he founded Ceres Victory Gardens to help people of all gardening experience levels create their own gardens at home. He and his staff of green thumbs install simple or multitiered gardens in backyards, introducing homeowners to produce that is fresher than anything that comes from the local farmers' market or fruit hat.
After they spread peat, composted manure, and loamy topsoil, the gardeners sow a bounty of veggies, fruit, herbs, or flowers suitable for New Jersey's moderate climate and 10-month growing season. They concoct all of their own organic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers to protect plants, reducing contamination and the need to seal edibles in an airtight bubble. The employees embellish the fruitful landscapes with trellises, fences, or other decorative structures, and return for maintenance visits, during which they can deer-proof gardens or vanquish weeds.
The training home of grand prix rider Osvaldo Ornia Pacher, Palermo Show Stable is a full-service hunter, jumper, and equitation facility. The stable staff trains riders young and old in English-style riding and even offers training sessions for horses and people in convincing horse costumes. Palermo Show Stable also hosts USEF horse shows throughout the year and imports Argentinian sport horses that are available for lease or purchase.
Silver Bit & Spur Farm trains riders in the three primary horsemanship techniques: Western, English, and dressage. Boarding facilities with an indoor arena are also available for horses who need somewhere to host their sleepover parties.
During the brutal winter months, the harvesters at Westhaven Farm keep warm by growing tomatoes in the greenhouse. The veggies are ready by spring alongside cherry tomatoes and pesticide-free fruit pollinated naturally by bumblebees. Once spring blossoms into summer, the farmers dole out locally raised produce such as peaches, sweet corn, and u-pick strawberries. Autumn heralds the arrival of the dusky season with hayrides, farm animals, and a nighttime corn maze that guests can navigate with a flashlight. After Halloween, staffers transition into holiday mode by supplying free hot chocolate and cookies to patrons browsing the farm’s poinsettias, wreaths, and trees, from thin-needled Douglas Firs to bushy Blue Spruce’s. Once December 25 has come and gone, the farmers start the seasonal cycle anew, just as they have for the last 50 years.
The verdant displays of flowers, plants, and seasonal, locally grown produce at Gold Coast Landscape & Garden Center form a veritable feast for the senses. Trees, perennials, and annuals from growers such as Overdevest Nurseries, Monrovia, and Endless Summer fill the center’s many planters and pots, sharing space with in-season tomatoes and strawberries. The gardening staff helps visitors to create their own vegetable gardens with these tasty fruits and can even lend their expertise to designing backyard ponds. Inside, a farm market further piques appetites with its selection of steaks, salad dressings, and gourmet cheeses freshly picked from the tree.