In recognition of the United Nations designation of 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity, the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition and The Rock River Times presents this bi-weekly series to help readers discover the amazing array of plants and animals in the rivers, prairies and woodlands “in our own back yard.” FREC is an alliance of 35 member organizations “dedicated to educating and advocating for the plants, animals, natural resources and ecosystems of the Four Rivers Region.” Please visit fourriver.org.
By Mary Dunkel
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Most of us think of Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden as a spring, summer and early fall experience, and as a special place known for its signature events, such as the annual Garden Fair, Woodsong Concerts in the Garden, and Autumn at the Arboretum.
As important, however, Klehm stands as a significant repository of trees found nowhere else in the northern half of the United States. This land was originally owned by the Taylor brothers as Rockford Nurseries in the 1920s. Their foresight and imagination brought trees native to Asia, Africa, Europe and other regions of North America to the Klehm grounds, long before conservation and preservation were widely accepted concepts.
Many of these exotic species are best viewed during the tranquility of a winter walk. Klehm’s 155-arce experience is especially magical after a light snowfall when the contours of the unusual firs, spruce and junipers are outlined by a blanket of white.
With more than 4 miles of outback trails, Klehm is a wonderful backwoods experience for adults and children. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the Klehm grounds.
A stop in the Visitor’s Center will arm you with a map and interpretive trail guide for those who wish to investigate the unique species throughout the arboretum. For those who wish to simply wander, enjoy the quiet of the woods and relish the beauty, the trails are well marked, and all lead back to a main 1.5-mile paved path.
You are invited to enjoy one of the most unusual outdoor areas in northern Illinois at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden during the fourth season of winter! The Nikko Fir, Dragon Spruce, Katsuratree and the many other trees made possible by the vision of the Taylor family many years ago, are here for us to enjoy!
Members at Klehm enjoy free admission year around! Klehm welcomes volunteers with a variety of opportunities as another way to support and enjoy the wealth of Klehm! Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday, during the winter season. Visit klehm.org or call (815) 965-8146 for info.