ROCKFORD – Three special creatures make their home at the Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden: Cow-li-flower, Klehmentine, and Flora Fauna.
The statues are sure to cause smiles as they are discovered by those out exploring. Klehmentine and Cow-li-flower are in the Nancy Olson Children's Garden, while Flora Fauna lurks in the Prehistoric Garden. Finding them can be the goal of young and old alike.
Klehm Arboretum, however, offers more than the fanciful. This is a place to enjoy nature. Trees, pathways, plants and flowers are at a guest's feet. Speaking of feet, a good way to see the sights is to try a self-guided tour.
Paved paths cover 1.5 miles and 2.5 miles of unpaved paths give a more rugged walk. The paved paths are suitable for wheelchairs, strollers and feet. In the West Loop, the Klehm's trees are the stars. There are unusual varieties as well as old favorites, such as buckeye, spruce, larch and oak.
The focus of the East Loop is more toward gardens. Guests will find the Prehistoric Garden (hint), the Peony Garden, Wildflower Garden, and the Grasses Garden, among others.
Both of the loops also have chipped paths that welcome guests to explore more.
The trails are found deep in the arboretum. Taylor, Hawthorn, Elm, Pine, Dogwood and Old Hedgerow are a few of them. For the most part, they branch off from the paved path.
Specialty gardens have a solid place in the scheme of the Klehm Arboretum layout. For example, the Nancy Olson Children's Garden (hint) can be reached by crossing a koi pond by bridge. A hedge maze is bound to delight.
The Fountain Garden has everything a person dreams of about a garden. There is a water fountain, perennial flowers, and even a gazebo. This is a quiet place to stop and contemplate.
For those who enjoy the woods and plants, but just do not know what every single one of them is, the arboretum can help. Here visitors will find 500 woody species cultivar and more than 300 woody plant species all labeled conveniently. No more guessing if that is an oak or a maple, a trillium or a rose.
Visitors who prefer to ride instead of walk may be interested in private docent tours, narrated tours for no more than five people in the motorized Blossom Buggy. These must be arranged at least 2 weeks in advance, and are offered May through October. There is an extra cost.
If you go
What: Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Where: 2715 S. Main St., Rockford
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for those 62 and older, children, and students (with identification), and free for children 2 and younger
Information: Go to www.klehm.org or call 815-965-8146