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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
2013-07-18 18 00 16

Great Gardening Spots of the Rockford Area

Posted by Candice Hart - Programs

Great Gardening Spots of the Rockford Area

The Rockford area is really a great destination for gardeners of all types. There are a number of great garden spots and garden centers to visit. Enough that these alone could easily keep you busy for a weekend of garden exploration suitable for all ages. Below is a brief list of some of the great gardening spots to explore:

Community Gardens

  • The Rockford area has really become a hot spot for community gardening. Community gardening is a great concept allowing an area for gardeners to plant their own gardens for their own use or for the purpose of growing for others. The staff at the University of Illinois Extension office in Rockford has offered a lot of support for start-up community gardens by providing education and offering the coordination of the Plant-A-Row program. The goal of PAR is to help channel the home gardener's overabundance of zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes (and more!) to area food pantries, so that our neighbors in our community who are struggling with hunger have access to healthy, fresh produce.

Several area community gardens would be great destinations to visit, including the community garden at Wesley Willows Nursing and Independent Living Facility in Rockford, which would welcome a tour by calling to make an appointment if a guided tour is wanted. Or the community garden at St. Bridget Catholic Church on 604 Clifford Ave in Loves Park.

School Gardens

  • School gardens are another great trend in the gardening world. The benefits of school gardens are numerous, but these gardens can allow a space for children to learn about nature, help them become accustomed with where their food comes from, and introduce them to many fruits and vegetables they may not have normally tried on their own, just to name a few. All very important things for children to learn. The Winnebago County Health Department and U of I Extension have partnered to help a number of schools create successful gardens in the Rockford area.
One school in particular has created a unique garden set-up in South Beloit. Calling themselves the South Beloit Garden Club, they have partnered with a local cement company who uses their leftover cement to create raised garden beds for the gardens. The entire community has gotten involved and the project has become quite successful. This garden is located at South Beloit High School and is a great place to visit.

Local Garden Centers

  • If you are a shopper, then the Rockford area is a great spot for you. The garden centers in the Rockford area offer a variety of specialties allowing you to find just about any type of plant or garden accessory that you're looking for. Below is a list of some of the many great garden centers in the area:
  • Peppercreek Florist and Garden Center, Rockford
  • Rock Valley Garden Center, Rockford
  • Arte Verde Garden Center and Landscaping, Poplar Grove
  • Genslers Gardens, Loves Park
  • Village Green Nursery, Rockford
  • Didier Greenhouse, Rockford
  • Nelson's Flowers and Greenhouse, Loves Park
  • Meridian Nursery, Rockford
  • J Carlson Growers, Rockford

La Paloma Gardens

  • La Paloma is a privately owned, award winning garden in Rockford. The garden is designed to be a combination of unfolding outdoor spaces that coax the visitor to stroll leisurely and take a moment to sit and pause while anticipating the next vista. And I will tell you personally, this garden is definitely peaceful. The name, La Paloma, in fact translates to dove, a symbol of peace. A private tour from the garden's owner and creator, Karen Harding, is eye-opening. Karen has a passion for her garden and that really shows. Open from May to October, this beautiful garden is open to tours by reservation during the week.

Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

  • Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a 155-acre living museum filled with spectacular gardens and rare trees. Klehm is perfect to visit all year round with trees, shrubs, and other plants with all season interest. On a nice day, it's a great spot to grab a picnic lunch and enjoy the lovely garden displays or tree collections. University of Illinois Extension partners with Klehm for a variety of programs like the Klehm Garden Fair and the Young Explorers: Summer Youth Program which features fun, interactive and educational activities designed to celebrate nature while exploring the beautiful grounds at Klehm Arboretum.

Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens

  • Nicholas is situated along the banks of the beautiful Rock River making it a gorgeous destination. During the warm season, Nicholas features the Eclipse Lagoon, complete with two fountains and a waterfall, pedestrian bridge, patio areas, and walkway connecting the Conservatory to the Sinnissippi Rose Garden. This rose garden is beautifully maintained by an excellent group of Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
A great destination to ease the winter gardening blues, Nicholas brings the tropics to the Midwest with its conservatory. The facility is the third largest conservatory in Illinois, offering an 11,000-square-foot plant exhibition area complete with water features, seating areas, and sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting. Be sure to check out the amazing green roof next to the conservatory too! Nicholas holds various events at their facility throughout the year and partners with U of I Extension for programs like a summer Junior Master Gardener Program. Get a tour from one of their guides to learn more about the interesting plants inside the conservatory, like the cacao plants from which chocolate is made.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

  • Anderson Japanese Gardens is a real gem for the Rockford area. Anderson has been rated one of North America's highest quality Japanese gardens for more than a decade. Inspired by calm and tranquility, this twelve acre landscape is comprised of winding pathways, meandering streams, koi-filled ponds and plunging waterfalls. Master craftsmanship and 16th century traditional architecture are found throughout the Gardens. Take a stroll through the garden or get a guided tour to learn all the details of the garden. Anderson also holds various events at the gardens including their Tuesdays in the Garden summer music series.

Midway Village Museum

  • The Midway Village Museum campus sits on a 137-acre campus conveniently located near I-90 in Rockford, Illinois. The museum is comfortably nestled among trees to create a beautiful ambiance any time of year. A Victorian-era Village and Main Museum Center are centrally located on the campus within walking distance from each other. Midway Village is representative of a typical rural town in Northern Illinois at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Surrounding the Midway Village campus are a number of beautiful gardens perfect for the gardener interested in gardening with Illinois native plants. The museum holds a variety of events through the season and U of I Extension holds many events in the gardens and museum facilities.

* URLs of sites not affiliated with University of Illinois Extension are provided solely for your convenience. Reference to specific external websites, companies or trade names does not imply endorsement by University of Illinois Extension, nor is discrimination intended against any that are not listed.

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