When we planned our last trip to Rockford, Illinois, we were pleased to find some amazing gardens available to visitors. While very different from each other, they were all fabulous in their own right. Join us for a quick photo trip to four of Rockford’s best.
La Paloma Gardens
3622 Brookview Road
Rockford, Illinois 61107
Opens Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 10-4, May through October
Your chance to visit the garden you’d like to have in your own backyard. This is actually a garden set in a residential area and is open for tours by the public.
Sweeping walkways connect the various sections of the gardens and lead one over scenic bridges to yet more beauty on the other side.
See how your vegetable garden should grow in this wonderfully structured garden and greenhouse area.
Catch a glimpse of the swan usually seen hanging around Swan Lake, but don’t touch. He’s got an attitude.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
2715 S Main Street
Open daily 9 – 4
Referred to as “Rockford’s Living Museum,” this is a diverse collection of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses. Gentle walkways connect them all and there’s a tram for those who would prefer not to walk.
A tall lookout tower is great for climbing and getting the birds-eye view of the gardens – and for finding lost kids in the hedge maze.
A refreshing fountain garden surrounds the kids-favorite (and adults too) fountain area.
You can take a self-guided tour with a handy trail guide, but I’d recommend a docent led tour. If you want to know about plants, they’ve got all the inside facts on seasonal bloomings and natural history.
Klehm is also available for rent for special events and would make a perfect background for a wedding.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
318 Spring Creek Road
Rockford, IL 61107
Open May through November – call for dates and times
Anderson Japanese Gardens has been called the most beautiful Japanese garden in the United States for a good reason – it is.
More so than any other garden we visited, this is a place to come if you want to spend some “down” time; for unwinding, for reflection, or for “Just Me” time.
Tours can be arranged for groups of eight or more, but there are so many wonderful vistas that you might rather wander at your own pace.
There is a well-stocked, gift shop with all sorts of items suitable for souvenirs, for your home or for gift giving.
Weddings and corporate events are held here all the time, along with a list of special events. Check their website’s event page for: Tai Chi classes, meditation sessions, Japanese tutoring, mini camps, Etagami classes (card making), scavenger hunts and Bujinkan classes (martial arts.)
Nicholas Conversatory & Gardens
1354 N 2nd Street
Rockford, Illinois 61107
Open year round
The Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens are located along the Rock River and is the 3rd largest conservatory in Illinois.
Inside, enjoy an 11,000-square-foot tropical plant pavilion with water features.
Be sure to go upstairs and see the “green roof’ brimming with succulents.
Outside, the reinvigorated Eclipse Lagoon is a great place to sit and relax. Or, wander the walkways, enjoy the waterfalls and the sculptures.
Special classes and special events are held all year long. Get the latest information on their Facebook page.
That’s not enough?
If you are still looking for more, there were three other notable gardens in Rockford that we didn’t make it to. You might want to try these:
Maureen Bardwell and her photojournalist husband Doug love to travel the world in search of those unique, off the beaten track restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and local craft shops. If you’ve got a favorite you’d like to see mentioned here, drop us a line. To get our stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow Doug on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or our blog.