All’s fair at the Arboretum: An interview with Wojtowicz

The Klehm Arboretum, located in Rockford, is a local treasure for all types of gardeners. Their 155 acres is filled with beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees. One of their premier events, The Garden Fair, occurs June 3-4.

For this article, I have asked Jim Wojtowicz to give us some insight about not only Klehm Arboretum itself, but also about their annual Garden Fair Weekend.

Jim, what types of gardens does the arboretum feature?

An arboretum is really a museum of woody plants. ‘Woody plants” can most easily be described as trees and shrubs. Since the arboretum used to be a plant nursery, a wide variety of trees and shrubs already existed on the property, and these have been carefully added to over the years.  Over 500 species of woody plants are labeled. In addition to the arboretum, our ‘Botanic Garden’ features six demonstration garden areas, such as The Butterfly Garden, The Herb Garden, The Bird Garden and Daylily Garden to name a few. The area around our Clarcor Pavilion also features more intricately landscape spaces. Klehm also boasts an ornamental grass garden, pre-historic garden and Hosta Garden. In our Olson’s Children’s Garden you will also find an alphabet and rainbow garden. Of course, the summer months also bring a variety of annual flowering plantings in beds, containers and hanging baskets that visitors really seem to enjoy.

Are tours of the garden available? Yes, you need to schedule them in advance…groups of 10 can be accommodated.

When are the operating hours of the Klehm Arboretum?

The arboretum is open 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The rest of the year we open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and close on Sundays in December, January, and February.

It is my understanding the Garden Fair is one of the Arboretum’s most popular events. What does it include?

Over 100 vendors selling everything from potted annual and perennial flowers to ornamental trees and shrubs, to herbs and succulents. Garden art, garden furniture, garden tools, vintage décor, antique items, and some fine art are also included.  There will be soaps and lotions, jewelry, clothing, pet products, as well as all kinds of professional people to get ideas from. There will also be a food court, live entertainment on the Fountain Garden Stage and a petting zoo for the kids.

How is this year’s event different from those in the past?

Just bigger and better with more variety of vendors. Also, this will be the second year we are hosting on Saturday and Sunday only…for many years the fair started on Friday.

Is there food available for purchase at the fair?

Yes, a food court will be set up in our fountain garden area with a variety of vendors as well as a beer/wine vendor (Prairie Street Brew House).

Is any live entertainment planned?

Yes, we have live music most of the day on both days…again, entertainment will be in the fountain garden with picnic tables available to use as seating for your food and beverage purchases or just to hang out.

What are the dates and hours?

Saturday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

How much does it cost to attend the event?

$8 at the gate or $5 in advance if you purchase tickets at local nurseries, greenhouses, florists, and other retail outlets…watch for posters. Pre sale tickets will also be available online and at the Klehm Visitor Center. Members and kids 12 and under are FREE.

For more information please check out their website You may also call them at 815-965-8146.

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