Sunday, April 1, 2012

Visit an Arboretum This Spring

An arboretum is a place where an extensive variety of woody plants like trees, shrubs and some vines are grown for scientific, educational, and ornamental purposes. The Arboretum at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign exists to meet all of these purposes and is beautiful place to visit. 

2011 Garden Trial Results at U of I Arboretum/Photo by U of I

In 1994, The Hartley Selections Garden was dedicated as the first phase of the university’s garden project. It is here that the University of Illinois All American Selections Trial Garden is held. Hundreds of flowering plants are maintained here.

The Noel Welcome Garden is a shaded pergola surrounded by crabapple hedges where you can sit in beauty and tranquility. 

The Idea Garden is the brainchild and workplace of the Master Gardeners of the Champaign County Extension Unit. Here they experiment with the latest in ornamentals, borders and vegetables. There is a special section designed just for children.

The Japan House, originally built in Japan and modeled after one its famous tea schools, was disassembled and brought to the university where it was rebuilt by Japanese craftsmen. Each of the three rooms has a theme and overlooks parts of a Japanese garden that surrounds the house. 

The Hosta Garden is nestled under towering cypress trees, lingering over gentle slopes and surrounded by stone bedding. The shade and beauty are pleasure after a long walk around the grounds.

Visit the Arboretum on Lincoln Avenue in Urbana IL daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

“I” Is for Follow Your Interests

Before moving to southern Illinois, I, like other Chicagoans, thought the south end of the state was vast wasteland. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is true we don’t have the museums and theaters you can find in Chicago but what we lack in cultural we more than make up with interesting diversity.

Southern Illinois is truly a place where you can follow your interests. If you are into the great outdoors, there is no better place. Deer, turkey and other fowl hunting abound here. There are literally tens of thousands of acres national and state parks that offer hiking, hunting, camping and fishing.

If history is your thing, you can pursue those interests as well. Like American Indian history? You can visit several Mississippian mound sites dating back hundreds of years. You can follow the Illinois portion of the Trail of Tears and walk and weep where the Cherokee did. Historic sites including forts and local museums dot the landscape.

There are bicycle trails, casinos, unique shopping opportunities and wildlife viewing stations. There are festivals and fairs focusing on unique themes like Makanda’s Vulture Festival, Ridgway’s Popcorn Festival and Metropolis’ Superman Celebration.

Illinois is a place that allows you to rock climb, enjoy art or study history in a setting like no other. What an interesting place.