Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum To Celebrate 70th Anniversary of Laurelwood Arboretum

Invitations are in the mail for Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum’s annual Festival of Friends fundraiser. This year’s event celebrates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of what is now known as Laurelwood Arboretum by Dorothy and John Knipppenberg in 1949. 


The Festival of Friends will take place at the Knippenberg Center for Education at Laurelwood Arboretum, 725 Pines Lake Drive West, Wayne on Saturday, September 14 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person for members of Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum, $60 per person for nonmembers, and $75 per person at the door. Tickets can be ordered online at  All proceeds of the Festival will benefit Laurelwood Arboretum. For additional information, please call 973-831-5675.


The Festival will feature an exhibit of paintings and photographs by local artists and photographers. For refreshments, there will be hors d’oeuvres by Dawn’s Catering of Ridgewood accompanied by wine, nonalcoholic beverages, and a specially created signature drink, Laurelwood Sunset. Pianist Richard Santoro will entertain on the piano. A highlight of the event is a raffle that includes tickets to Hamilton and other exciting items. Raffle tickets are now on sale at the Knippenberg Center for Education, which is open Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 4 pm. 


Dorothy and John Knippenberg, who were residents of Wayne’s Pines Lake community,

purchased the 30-acre property in the 1940s. They operated it as a commercial nursery called Laurelwood Gardens that specialized in rhododendrons and azaleas. Laurelwood became renowned in the horticultural world for its registered hybrids, natural beauty, and the dedicated expertise of its founders, Dorothy and John Knippenberg.


In 1960, the Knippenbergs offered to donate the entire 30 acres to the Township of Wayne to create a public park after their deaths. Dorothy continued to work in the gardens after John’s death. A small grassroots community group formed to help her maintain the property and ensure its future as a public park. In 2003, this group was formalized as Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. 


Today, Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum is an all-volunteer non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and enhance the arboretum in partnership with Wayne Township. Membership has grown to more than 450, with 200-plus volunteers working to support the organization. Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum is funded by membership dues, grants, fundraisers, and donations from individuals and businesses.

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