October 06, 2015

Midwest Meet-Up
At Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden

castor

Isn't it a thrill to discover horticultural resources close to home--new botanical wonderlands to explore?

That's what happened when several Midwest gardeners and garden bloggers met in August in Rockford, Illinois, to explore three botanical properties. (Our group included folks from Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. We plan to continue this gathering next summer, possibly meeting in Madison.)

Our first stop was Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, a 155-acre site that combines native plant and tree collections with rare trees and shrubs cultivated for exhibition.

We met on a Friday, and had the place almost to ourselves.

pavilion

The grounds were well-maintained, yet warm and welcoming--including this pavilion, a popular local wedding venue.

fountain

The Fountain Garden adjacent to the pavilion tempted us. Our visit occurred on a very hot day, and some of us thought about running through the water spouts.

pots

Gathering areas throughout the property provided resting places and inspirational plant combinations. I enjoyed the Foxtail Ferns (Asparagus densiflorus)/Petunias combination and the small potted shrubs with purple Sweet Potato vine (Ipomoea batatas).

bench

rock border

The formal garden areas were whimsical, and had a nice mix of statuary, benches, birdhouses, trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals.

plant sign

azalea sign

Even the signage was bright, colorful, and informative. I'd like to go back next spring to see the Rhododendron and Azalea Dell.

children's garden

This plot in the Children's Garden was arranged by alphabet--using common names. It was bright and colorful, and most of the plants selected for this special area were either in bloom or had eye-catching foliage.

fountain grass

Loved this stand of Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum) along the path to the pavilion.

bridge

This bridge over a small stream took us to an interesting woodsy area.

waterfall 1

waterfall 2

Several simple, but very attractive waterfalls dotted the landscape.

bumble

cabbage

monarch

webworm

skipper

carpenter

Pollinators and accidental pollinators all seemed happy with the nectar and pollen smorgasbord.

I photographed several individual plants that captured my eye, including:

amsonia 1

amsonia 2

Blue-Star Amsonia (A. hubrichtii): There were several patches in various stages of color change, depending on location and lighting. I imagine this area is stunning in the fall!

calamint

As always, the Lesser Calamints (Calamintha nepeta subsp. nepeta) were covered in bees.

coreopsis

Around one corner was a swath of Threadleaf Coreopsis (C. verticillata), which was gorgeous even at this late stage.

daylily

A few Daylilies were still blooming.

cleome

Cleomes (C. hassleriana) were probably the plant of the day--another specimen that looked stunning en masse.

turtlehead

The Turtleheads (Chelone lyonii) were just starting to bloom.

amistad

'Amistad' Purple Salvias were spectacular, too.

While I was drawn to individual plants, it was the formal and informal plant combinations that really impressed, like the grouping at the beginning of this post and several others:

mixed

Castor Bean plants, Cleomes, potted succulents, Coral Bells, Alyssums, and more.

cotoneaster

A very healthy patch of Cotoneaster (C. horizontalis) framed by conifers and green late-season Hydrangeas (I think these are 'Annabelles').

helio petunias

And a dramatic grouping that we all found fascinating: Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana), Cleomes, Purple Heliotropes (Heliotropium arborescens), and swaths of Petunias.

group
Recognize any of these people?

It was a fun day! We also visited the Anderson Japanese Gardens and the Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, which I'll highlight in a future post. Rockford is an excellent destination for plant-lovers and garden enthusiasts. I'm already planning a return visit next year!

66 comments:

  1. Hi Beth, how cool that you joined a meet-up with other gardeners and garden bloggers and got to visit the Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden! It must have been so much fun to do that in a group of like minded people.
    I love the plant combination in your first photo and also the one in the second photo from the bottom of your post. I am making notes here to maybe recreate something similar next year in my own garden :-)!
    One plant that I find especially fascinating is the cleome and another one that I was happy to see is Verbena Bonariensis. Of the latter I planted three specimen in my own garden just a few days ago and am already completely in love.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Yes, it was really fun! Aren't the plant combinations great? I had more, but I didn't want to go on and on. And, yes, quite a few ideas to incorporate in a home garden. Cleomes have always been a personal favorite. Unfortunately, I don't have enough sun for them anymore. I love the Verbena, too. The last time I was at one of the local botanical gardens here in Madison, I noticed the Monarchs enjoyed the Verbena, along with Zinnias and Butterfly Bush. Your garden must be incredible to see firsthand! It sure is beautiful in your pictures on your blog!

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  2. It was such a good time. I can't thank you enough for getting us all rounded up. One of my favorite plantings is in your first photo. I already have the cleome that pops up here and there. It was amazing how tall the nicotiana got in the big beds and the helitrope. Wow. I will look forward to another get together. There are several places and people I would like to see in the Madison area. Your beautiful photos give me the itch to travel.

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    1. I had a great time, too. Thanks for making the long trip, Lisa! I think you had the longest distance to travel. I wish I had more sun for Nicotiana and Cleome--I love both of them! I have several places to recommend if we do decide to meet here in Madison. I'm already feeling the itch to travel south for the winter!

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  3. Your beautiful photos are a lot of fun to see now, as the garden outside is winding down. That was a very fun day.

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    1. Thanks, Cassi. It was a great group, wasn't it? And now that I have all the gardeners' names straight, I'll be ready for next time. ;-) My garden is winding down, too, but I'm getting a fresh blush of Zinnias, Cosmos, and Lantanas with this slightly milder weather. Seems like a delayed first frost this year. Yay!

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  4. That was such a great day - we have to make it a regular thing. Your photos are truly outstanding, you really capture all the beauty that was around us at the Klehm Arboretum. I covet those Rudbeckia laciniata.

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    1. Agreed, Jason. Why, thank you for your kind comments. Yes, the Rudbeckias were nifty. I especially loved the arrangements and the combinations of plants. And that beautiful area near the waterfalls and the bridge. I should have included more photos from that area. Maybe a spring post...

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  5. wish I could have been with you - the garden looks delightful
    and the group a perfect friendly size.

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    1. Oh, yes, it would have been fun to have you join us, Diana. I hope we can meet some day. :) It was a great group for the Meet-Up!

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  6. Combinations (of people and plants) are the best!

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    1. Agreed! Especially people who appreciate nifty combinations of plants! ;-)

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  7. Had a wonderful time with you all - thanks so much for organizing the meetup. Great photos - brought back memories of a great day!

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    1. Thanks for being part of a fabulous day! Hope you'll be able to join us again next year!

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  8. Water...water and water... I love water in the garden! The cleomes are so beautiful, I like it. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi Endah: I do, too! We have a pond that seems to attract wildlife. But I love the look of waterfalls. I try to grow Cleomes in my garden, but they really need more sun. The ones we saw at the botanical garden were huge! You are welcome. :)

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  9. Looks like a great place to visit and so much fun to be with fellow gardeners. I like the cleome a lot. Mine is way past. The 'Amistad' Purple Salvia is gorgeous.

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    1. We saw both 'Amistad' and 'Black and Blue' Salvias during our tours. They're annuals here and can't survive the winters, but great for summer displays and potted arrangements. I love Cleomes, too, and they're great cut flowers, even though they have a strong scent.

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  10. Great pictures, Beth, and great group of friends!
    Cleomes look so good - I'm wondering why they disappeared from my garden. I used to have them for many years, they self-seeded, but now I have none.
    It's good to see so many pollinators in the garden!

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    1. Thanks, Tatyana! Yes, these folks are friendly individuals. :) I used to have more luck with Cleomes when my sunny garden was more "sunny." Now it's really partly sunny and they never get very big. Do you think that's why yours disappeared?

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  11. And your reportage shows why I love botanical gardens and arboretums, Fantastic and so happy so virtually visit this one!!! Thanks

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    1. Thanks, Lula, and I agree. It's such a treat to visit them--at home, during travels, wherever we find them!

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  12. So fun to see this place through your perspective, Beth, and to reminisce about such a great day! I thought the stand of cleome and the nicotania was so impressive, too; I have both in my garden, but not planted together and certainly not as tall and robust as these plants were. This is such a beautiful place and well-worth visiting again in fall and in spring. Thanks again, Beth, for organizing this day--I had such a great time meeting up with everyone. I am really looking forward to another get-together next year!

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    1. It was a great day, wasn't it?! Yes, they (Nicotiana and Cleomes) looked great together. I've never seen them that big before. By the way, I'm finding multiple acceptable pronunciations of Nicotiana. ;-) I had a great time, too, and look forward to future gatherings!

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  13. Thanks for this tour--gorgeous photos of a stunning botanical garden.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it's a beautiful place. I actually didn't realize it was so nice--it exceeded my expectations.

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  14. Beautiful place ... and beautiful photos! So enjoyable this drab fall morning :-)

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    1. Thanks--it was gorgeous. We visited on a lovely day, although it was very hot (90sF). But we had a great time, anyway. :)

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  15. What a wonderful destination and such a great idea to get together with other gardeners on a mini-Fling. Gorgeous photos - I especially love the grouping with the blue ceramic pot. And yes, I do recognize a couple of the faces!

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    1. Yes, this mini-fling convinced me I need to do this more than just once a year. ;-) People who blog and garden are my favorite people to hang around with. The potted arrangements were really impressive. Always getting ideas ...

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  16. Hi Beth, it is wonderful to spend some days with friends in gardens, i can imagine the fun. We don't have much gardens here for visitors, they are mostly for sale. I am looking intently on the group photo, but i don't know who you are in there, haha! You should tell us.

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    1. Yes, it was great fun! Darn--sorry to hear you don't have many botanical gardens. But it sounds like your garden stores are pretty impressive? Ha, ha: I'm shy about revealing who I am. ;-)

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  17. Good idea of a joint visit gardens for observation of plants. The one that you showed I like and certainly it was nice to walk around it on a hot day. Regards.

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    1. Yes, we shared many thoughts and enjoyed viewing the plants together. We were at this botanical garden in the morning and there was plenty of shade, so it was comfortable. The others were a little hotter--but still fun and worth revisiting on cooler days.

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  18. I love visiting gardens, public and private, with like-minded friends! Recently did just that in Pasadena, CA at the GWA convention. Like Diana, I wish I'd been with you. Your photos are stunning and the next best thing to being there. P. x

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    1. Yes, me too. Thanks, Pam. Do you think you'll attend the Minneapolis Fling next summer? It would be great to meet you. :)

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  19. I'd love to be added to the list when this group meets again, especially if you do a Madison trip.

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    1. Absolutely! I'm so glad we actually met this summer, Linda. If the group meets in Madison, I'm thinking Olbrich, The Arboretum, and maybe the West Madison UW Research Garden. Or maybe The Flower Factory. I'd say gardens downtown, but parking is such a pain.

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  20. A wonderful garden and a fabulous rouges' gallery of gardeners with whom to share it! Sounds like a fun time was had by all!

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    1. Tee hee. Yes, we were a fun group. Klehm's was a wonderland, truly. I didn't realize it was such a beautiful property.

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  21. Looks like a fun time, and what spectacular gardens. On a recent visit to the Arboretum, I stopped a few minutes at Longgnecker Gardens and was impressed by the number of fall-blooming crocus.

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    1. Ah, yes--I noticed some Colchicums blooming at Olbrich a couple of weeks ago, too. They were stunningly beautiful in the afternoon light. I'll have to check out the ones at Longgnecker before they fade.

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  22. That lanceleaf coreopsis certainly does look good. I hope to add some to my garden at some pt.

    Thanks for sharing some highlights of your meetup! :)

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    1. Yeah, I think I grew it (that species of Coreopsis) before when I had a sunny garden. I might have to try it again if/when I have a different garden. I just read that it's shade-tolerant, but deer/rabbits eat it. So, it won't work in my current garden. Hope you can attend the Minneapolis Fling next summer?

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  23. What a great meetup! I love that amsonia! What a gorgeous place to have a wedding, too, if the weather was nice. How fun!

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    1. Yes! It was great fun. And, yes, I need that Amsonia! I tried to plant some seeds from a friend's plant, but I don't have much hope they will germinate. Apparently they have some pretty complicated stratification requirements, so I'll probably buy some plants next spring. Oh, I was thinking I'd like to crash a wedding there someday! ;-)

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  24. Great fun to meet up and explore....

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    1. Yes, it was a fun (although hot) day! Can't wait to meet again!

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  25. What a handsome arboretum, and near to home...that is the best. I loved the settings, both formal and informal. Are you in the photo? We haven't met, so I'd love to know! It looked like a perfect sized group for garden touring, and perfect weather. Thanks for sharing a beautiful place with us. (I did a double take when I saw the bridge--I have a duplicate crossing the stream in my woodland garden.) Thanks Beth!

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    1. Hi Susie: Yes, it's a beautiful property! I am in the photo, but I'm too shy to say. ;-) Lucky you to have a beautiful bridge like that in your garden. Water features really add personality, don't they?!

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  26. Oh, I meant to say that I'm glad you identified the cotoneaster...I never knew what that was before. Thanks.

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    1. Oh, certainly. I have a hedge of the same plant in my garden, so I knew what it was. It's a lovely plant. Mine isn't as big and impressive as the one in the photo, but it seems to have good years and bad years.

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  27. What a great garden, and I know it was extra special because you got to share it with other gardeners and garden bloggers! I was delighted by the alphabet garden for children.

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    1. Yes, very true. We had a wonderful group who were happy to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends. The alphabet garden was really cute. I'm thinking it's probably full of blooms and fun foliage at any time during the growing season. I'd love to check it out in a different season.

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  28. That looks like a stunning place to visit...and it's so lush and green.. I guess I didn't know how much I miss lush until I see photos of it again....

    Loved those signs too, they are eyecatching.

    Jen

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    1. Yes, it's beautiful. Actually, I was surprised by how well-maintained, beautifully designed, and artfully arranged it was. We've had a mild autumn, which is about to change with several nights of freezing temperatures on the weekend. :(

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  29. What a lovely garden and such fun to visit it with fellow bloggers. I love cleome, it is so effective grown en masse.

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    1. Cleome is a favorite for me, too, Chloris. I hope I have a sunny garden someday so I can plant more! It just doesn't quite get enough sun here. It's a great cut flower, too!

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  30. Oh this was a wonderful spot and you chose great flowers to highlight. This spot gave me lots of peace and inspiration just from your post....I imagine it was quite a bit more in person.

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    1. Thanks, Donna. It's funny that you mention a peaceful feeling, because that's kind of how I felt on this property. It's a pleasant combination of native and specimen plants, shade and sun, places to walk and places to rest. I really enjoyed it!

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  31. Wonderful tour, this is a gem we've never seen! We have been to the Anderson garden; stunning in every detail. I look forward to your posts on the next two gardens.

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    1. Yes, I think you would like this one, too, Karen. You'll have to join us next summer. I need to start a list of Midwestern gardeners who might want to join the tour. :)

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  32. What a fabulous place to spend time in, particularly with fellow plant lovers. You reminded me that I want to try growing amsonia from seed, and that I need to take cuttings from my calamintha.

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    1. Yes, it was great! I wish you great luck with the Amsonia: Your climate is probably more suited to starting it from seed. I will have to wait until next spring to see if the seeds I planted germinate. Love the Calamintha! Everywhere I see it, it's covered in bees. And it smells wonderful!

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