I had an opportunity to visit some fantastic public gardens in the mid-west while my wife and I enjoyed a little vacation in that part of the country. Our first garden was the Chicago Botanic Garden. This public garden is free to visit but does cost $15 to park on site. The entire garden was larger than we were able to see in the four hours we spent there.
My two favorite areas were the new conifer garden (surprised?) and the garden railway (which included many dwarf and miniature conifers in its design). I was particularly pleased with the conifer garden. It was laid out nicely and displayed a great collection of primarily dwarf conifers.
Overall the Chicago Botanic Garden had a lot to offer anyone interested in gardening. There were formal gardens, English gardens, vegetable gardening ideas, a large Japanese garden and much more. If you have a chance to visit, schedule plenty of time!
The second garden we visited was the Bicklehaupt Arboretum in Clinton, Iowa. Just days before we arrived, the American Conifer Society held its 25th annual membership meeting in Dubuque which included a tour of Bicklehaupt. I was disappointed that we were unable to attend that event but I did enjoy the solitude of walking around the garden with virtually no other guests.
A big section of Bicklehaupt is dedicated to garden conifers in their Heartland Collection. This place is a conifer lover’s dream come true. Mature specimens of conifers that many of us have only seen as smaller sizes available in our local garden centers. This collection really demonstrates the vast color, shape, and texture that conifers provide all year long. If you ever find yourself in Clinton, Iowa, be sure to plan at least a couple hours to stroll through the Bicklehaupt Arboretum.