Secret history: Monmouth County garden has ties to infamous Genovese crime family

Tuesday was a perfect spring day in New Jersey and many took advantage of the nice weather by visiting Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown.
The garden is part of the Monmouth County Park System. It is spectacular and peaceful. But many may not know that the garden has a history as colorful as the tulips that grow there.
The land was once a country estate purchased in 1935 by Vito Genovese. The infamous Mafia crime family gets its name from him.
Genovese made a fortune during Prohibition and had the gardens designed to look like those of his native Italy. There is even a volcano.
Many people who visited the garden on Tuesday were not aware of its history. Those who did made a few jokes about it.
“I said in the ‘30s if you were bad, they cut you up, put you in [the volcano], cleaned you up and threw you in the woods,” one visitor said.
That man’s wife said that he watched too many horror movies.
Neither the brochure for the garden or the county’s website mention what Genovese did for a living. It simply said that in 1935 Genovese bought the property as a retreat for his family from New York City.
A few years later, Genovese went on a different retreat. He fled the country fearing prosecution for the murder of a rival mobster. Not long after, the home on the estate mysteriously burned down. He was eventually tried and convicted of narcotics conspiracy in 1959. He died in prison 10 years later.
Genovese didn’t get a chance to enjoy the garden that much. But the final private owners of the estate – Marjorie and Karl Wihtol – left the land to the Monmouth County Park System in 1977.
Deep Cut Gardens has hundreds of types of plants, greenhouses and exhibits and the highlight each year is the rose garden which blooms later in spring.