Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford

#8 of 20 in Things to do in Rockford
Garden · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden (63 ha / 155 acres) is a nonprofit arboretum and botanical garden located at 2715 South Main Street, Rockford, Illinois.

The arboretum was first established in 1910 as Rockford Nursery by landscape architect William Lincoln Taylor, who planted many of the arboretum's trees. The Klehm family purchased the nursery in 1968 and maintained it until 1985, when they donated the property to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District as an arboretum. In the early 1990s, the site was inventoried, a master plan developed, and a capital campaign undertaken. Garden plantings began in 1994.

The arboretum includes a pre-settlement Bur Oak grove (5 ha / 12 acres) whose largest trees are estimated to be over 300 years old. It also includes over 50 species and cultivars of Conifers, representing nine groups from North America, Europe, and Asia, such as Firs, Junipers, Spruces, Pines, Douglas Fir, Yews, Arborvitae, Hemlock, Nikko Firs, Meyer's Spruce, Common Juniper, Arborvitae, and the Threadleaf Sawara Falsecypress.

The European collection includes mature Norway Maple, Field Maple, Pedunculate Oak, English Elm, European Beech, Common Horsechestnut, Mountain Pine and Scots Pine, as well as European Larch, European Hornbeam and Spindle Tree. The East Asian collection includes Cork Trees, Japanese Red and White Magnolia, Flowering Quince, and various Honeysuckles. The Northern America collection includes American Beech, Yellow Buckeye, Cucumbertree Magnolia, Tulip Tree, Ponderosa Pine, Colorado Spruce, and Douglas Fir.

Other woody plants include Basswood, Red Buckeye, Black Cherry, American Chestnut, Dogwood, Fringe Tree, Hackberry, Hemiptelea, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Shagbark Hickory, Umbrella Magnolia, Scarlet Oak, White Oak, Redbud, Carolina Silverbell, Sourwood, Sweetgum, Viburnum, Black Walnut, and Wisteria.

The gardens include a Butterfly Garden, Daylily Garden, multiple Demonstration Gardens, Fountain Garden, Grass Garden, Hosta Garden, the Nancy Olson Children's Garden, the Ethel Johnson Lilac Garden, and a Prehistoric Garden (with Cycads, Baldcypress, Ferns, Ginkgo, Horsetails, Mosses, Bristlecone Pine, and Dawn Redwood).

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Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
81 reviews
  • This was our families first visit here. We walked a few of the different gardens. Being on vacation I picked a weekday to check out this place. It was not busy at all. The kids enjoyed the kids...  more »
  • Very nice place, and beautiful flowers and trees. I would definitely come back with my children, but all that I recommend is that you bring a couple a water bottles because the place is very big.  more »
  • A very beautiful place which is obviously filled with flowers and various species of trees AND it's great for wheelchairs/strollers. There are also some pretty cool hiking trails. Be sure to bring sunscreen and some type of insect repellent because the mosquitoes are pretty bad in some places of the park and the gift shop (if you can call it that) doesn't sell sunscreen. It's gorgeous on so many levels. It's a great place to just go and think.
  • Beautiful gardens and interesting and fascinating trees from around the world. This place is a must see if you like nature.

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