This wooded sanctuary's contemporary visitors center is the gateway to 155 acres of manicured gardens, a cool labyrinth, a butterfly garden and mature woodlands with connective walking paths throughout. In spring, brightly colored rhododendrons cover the ground and the sweet fragrance of blooming magnolias wafts through the air. During the winter, hawks wing through crisp blue skies and birdwatchers flock to the garden to spot rare redpolls flitting among snow-smothered branches. Summer brings blooming demonstration gardens carefully tended by volunteers; bounty from the “plant a row” vegetable garden goes to the Rockford Food Pantry.
Thick groves of pine and European larch were planted here in the 1930s when the arboretum was a thriving tree nursery (original holes remain where some trees were dug out after being sold). These days, families love spending time in the children's garden labyrinth maze; marveling at the waterfall that spills into the koi pond; and exploring the prehistoric garden of ginkgo, cypress and redwood trees with its resident dinosaur statue.
The arboretum and gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; adult admission is $6.