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Rhonda J. Ferree


Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture



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Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Visit a Public Garden this Summer


Public gardens are a great place to get ideas for your garden. Last month I visited three gardens in Rockford with Bradley University's OLLI program. I am inspired to add more plants to our water garden and create more succulent container gardens. Here are a few ideas of places you might consider visiting this summer.

Some of my favorite garden locations are the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Morton Arboretum. The Chicago Botanic Gardens are located north of Chicago, but certainly worth the drive. According to their website, "in 2017 more than one million people visited the Garden's 27 gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles of lake shoreline." I especially like the Japanese Garden and their extensive bonsai collection.

In a west Chicago suburb is the Morton Arboretum. This is a 1,700-acre non-profit outdoor museum containing more than 220,000 live trees, shrubs, and other plants in woodlands, wetlands, gardens, and a restored native prairie.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is located in the heart of St. Louis. "Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is the nation's oldest botanical garden in continuous operation and a National Historic Landmark." The garden's 79 acres feature a traditional Japanese garden, Chinese garden, greenhouses, extensive landscaping, and one of the world's largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. The garden also features a geodesic dome with changing displays.

Zoos are also great places to see plants. I've been to zoos all across our great nation. Some of my favorites are in Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, and San Diego. All have great gardens and garden structures – oh, and neat animals too!

Don't forget to visit cemeteries. Yes, cemeteries often have great plant specimens. In fact, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum in Cincinnati, Ohio is a spectacular place to view plants. There you see woody trees at their mature height and spread. It is so spectacular that it was a required field trip when I was a University of Illinois horticulture student.

Finally, don't forget to visit public gardens close to home such as the Spoon River College Arboretum. There are also awesome public gardens in Peoria (Luthy Memorial Botanic Garden), Champaign (University of Illinois Arboretum), Normal (Fell Arboretum), Springfield (Abraham Lincoln Memorial Garden), and Rockford (Klehm Arboretum).

Consider taking a day trip this summer to view gardens. Public gardens will inspire you, but they are also places of great beauty, relaxation, and wonderment.



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