I was recently in Champaign, Illinois to attend a performance of my daughter's. Her rehearsals and performance was on the University of Illinois campus, and that is where I discovered their Arboretum.
I had to drive past this sweet park every time I needed to drop Ashley off at a rehearsal. On a slightly rainy, but definitely overcast day, I finally had some time to explore the place. What a wonderland! It was so colorful with all the fall trees and ornamental grasses, I could only imagine how beautiful it must have been in the spring and summer!
The trees really stole the show with their amazing color. I'm sure it was planned to have so many trees planted that produced this much amazing color.
I loved this canopy of green and yellow leaves! Isn't it gorgeous!
If you park in the parking lot (meter parking except after 6:00 and on weekends), the first thing you'll see other than the Arboretum signs and gorgeous trees is this amazing begonia lined sidewalk with a pergola and benches. It is called The Welcome Garden (Pictured in the first picture above on the right).
A short walk down the path leads to huge sunken garden called The Hartley Garden. It is a three acre garden that is filled with annuals and perennials. When I was there, most of it was bare because they appeared to have had a light frost and had already bedded down the garden for the winter. However, the begonias were protected from the frost by the overhang, so they still looked lush and beautiful.
The next garden is called The Idea Garden. This was my favorite, for there was still a lot to see. It contains Border Gardens, a Children's Garden, Ornamentals, Vegetables, and Special Projects.
What I liked about the Idea Garden is in addition to plant identifying markers, they also described the light and temperatures of each garden, and why they chose the types of plants they did for that space.
The architecture in the Idea Garden was as interesting and attractive as the plants and flowers themselves! I loved the little open roofed seating area that takes center stage inside the garden.
One of my favorite color combinations of sedum. I love the deep red purple against the chartreuse.
Here is a close up of the roofed seating area. There are window planters on all four sides. Each planter was filled with different plants depending on the weather conditions of what side the planter was located.
The Children's Garden was absolutely adorable! It was filled with so many interesting plants and foliage that children would find fascinating. I loved the contrast of the orange pumpkins up against the dark purple ornamental grass.
And isn't that bunny the cutest? I also loved how they tied the grass in clumps with orange ribbon. How creative!
Here you get a side view of the roofed seating area and you can see the benches inside.
I was amazed at how much color was in this garden for so late in the season. They really put a lot of thought into fall color when they designed this garden. There were a few hardy petunias that weren't killed off from the frost, but most of the color came from shrubs and ornamental grasses.
This is a sedum I have never seen before. It was in the "hot/dry" window box located on the south side of the seating area. Isn't it interesting and beautiful? I love the unique color!
And here is the sedum window box. I loved all the ideas this garden provided. Everyone that visits The Idea Garden could go home with an new idea for the unique growing conditions of their own yard.
Of course being that it is fall, the garden was loaded with ornamental cabbage! Wow! Look at that color! What a feast for the eyes!
Some of the ornamental cabbage was growing in window boxes, others were planted in pots on the ground, and some were planted in the ground. It is definitely a versatile plant!
This annual didn't seem to be affected by the frost and is still blooming quite happily!
I know I've said it already, multiple times, but look at all that color!!!! Oh, my goodness, to have this much color so late in the season is amazing!
There was also a rose garden in this area, but I didn't spend any time in it because the workers/volunteers were working hard in it and I didn't want to get in their way. Apparently the roses weren't affected by the light frost, for they seemed to blooming happily still.
I loved the color of this little shrub. It reminded me of a little tree that changes color in the fall.
More colorful shrubs and another ornamental cabbage of sorts. Whoever designed this garden certainly paid a lot of attention to contrasting color and foliage for the ultimate effect!
This bush or plant still had some lovely red blooms.
I loved the sprays on this ornamental grass.
And finally, this little building is their garden shed where they keep all their garden supplies. But they also made it very attractive by surrounding it with large ornamental grasses and a pretty seating area.
There is no cost, other than meter parking, to see any of the gardens. It is free and open to the public everyday. I don't know if I'll ever be in this area again in my lifetime, but if I am, you bet I'll visit again. I'd love to see the Japanese Garden and I would really love to see the gardens in full bloom during the summer months.
Have a great day! Amy
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