Arts & Culture

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Klehm Interpretive Tour

Our collection of over 500 woody plant species and cultivars is the result of three factors - the natural growth of plants native to northern Illinois, the operations of a commercial landscape nursery for over 60 years, and the ongoing acquisitions made since the grounds became Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden.

Interpretive Tour Streetview
Click the photo to "walk" the tour at your own pace.

Post 1 - Small Maples
1.  Small Maples – Throughout this newly developed area are a number of Japanese maples and other interesting maples. Maples have winged seeds called samaras that many people call helicopters.  
Post 2 - Peony Garden
2.  Fountain Garden, Peony Garden, & Nancy Olson Children’s Garden – Klehm’s Fountain Garden hosts many celebrations, concerts, and weddings each season. Children and adults alike enjoy cooling off in the fountains. The Peony Garden features over 70 varieties of peonies donated by the Klehm family.  Further on, turn left, walk across the bridge over the koi pond to the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden. Explore this garden designed for a child’s view. Check out the maze from the tower. Return to this point after you have visited the garden.
Part 3 - Demonstration Gardens
3.  Demonstration Gardens – The Hosta Garden is one of several demonstration gardens in the arboretum tended by volunteers. There are more demonstration gardens by the CLARCOR Pavilion, including a Butterfly Garden, an Herb Garden, and a Daylily Garden.
Post 4 - Greek Fir
4.  Greek Fir – This large Greek Fir grows naturally in Greece and is the only one of its kind at Klehm. Note the double leader, or “co-dominant” trunk. Beyond post 4 is a grass garden in the triangle. Follow the path to the left, past the pre-historic garden, to post 5 in the west loop. (Check the map if necessary.)
Post 5 - Buckeyes and Horsechestnuts
5.   Buckeyes and Horsechestnuts - Across from the post are several horsechestnuts. Notice that the leaflets on the horsechestnuts come out from a single point of attachment like fingers extending from the palm of your hand. Botanists call this leaf arrangement a palmately compound leaf.
Post 6 - European Larches
6.  Larches - Originally a nursery row but left undug, here is a luxuriance of European Larches. The larch is a conifer – it bears cones – but is also deciduous in that it drops needles in the fall.  
Post 7 - American Beech
7.  American Beech – There are several diverse trees in this area. Notice the different bark textures and leaf arrangements of these different trees. Notice the magnificent American Beech that many of us consider to be the most beautiful tree at Klehm. The wonderful shape with the low sweeping branches and smooth grey bark give us a grand sight.
Post 8 - Firs
8.  Firs – Firs in our collection include Rocky Mountain Fir, Balsam Fir, and many others. Firs do not tolerate air pollution and generally are not suited to city planting. The cones on a fir tree have two interesting characteristics: they stand upright like a candle and they rapidly disintegrate – you rarely find cones under a fir tree. Also firs have flat needles that do not easily roll between your fingers.
Post 9 - Spruces
9.  Spruces – At this post you can see a Wilson Spruce that has a symmetrical form, which makes it desirable as a Christmas tree. Cones on spruces hang down and frequently can be seen on the ground. Spruce needles are typically four sided (not flat like fir needles) and can be rolled between your fingers.
Post 10 - Example of a Transplant Hole
1.  Example of a Transplant Hole – At this post you can see an old transplant hole left over from when Klehm was a nursery. A large tree spade would have encircled the tree with four pointed blades that would be hydraulically forced into the soil. The blades form the soil ball needed for proper transport elsewhere.  
Post 11 - A Pair of Spruces
11.  A Pair of Spruces – The Norway Spruce at the left of the bench is the principal tree of Germany’s Black Forest. This tree provides the raw material for making cuckoo clocks. Notice the cones which hang down. They are the models for the cast-iron weights on the clocks. To the right, the Serbian Spruce only needs a 10 to12 foot square area, making it ideal for an average city lot. Silvery undersides of the needles provide a flash of silver and green in a breeze.
Post 12 - Take a Walk Down the Old Hedgerow Trail
12. Take a Walk Down the Old Hedgerow Trail – From post 12, you might take a walk of around 83 feet down the Old Hedgerow Trail to see an interesting tree with interesting bark. It is an Amur Corktree. Notice the soft cork-like bark that distinguishes this tree.
Post 13 - Exotic Forest
13.  Exotic Forest – Plants that are not native to a particular region are referred to as “exotics”, thus this is an exotic forest. Close examination reveals foreign trees such as Norway Maple, Littleleaf Linden, Katsuratree, and Amur Maple living with native species such as American Beech, Tuliptree, and Red Oak.
Post 14 - Arborvitae in a Row
14.  Arborvitae in a Row – “Arborvitae” is Latin for “tree of life”, and indeed it saved the lives of early explorers. They were advised by Native Americans to make a tea from the leaves, which would cure their illness. We now know they were suffering from scurvy and became well by drinking vitamin C which is produced by the tree.
Post 15 - Witchhazel Family
15.  Witchhazel Family – The Vernal Witchhazel is often blooming in late February or early March, well before any other deciduous plant blooms. The Common Witchhazel by contrast blooms in late fall. Witchhazel forked branches have been favored as divining rods.
Post 16 - Basswoods
16.  Basswoods – As you pass this area you will notice several kinds of Basswood or Linden trees. Native Americans used the tough stringy inner bark for rope and weaving, and woodworkers prize the soft wood for carving. Honeybees love basswood trees for their nectar. Across the path look for several Amur Maple trees. These trees are spectacular in the fall when their leaves turn hues of crimson and orange.
Post 17 - Oaks
17.  Oaks – The White Oak is our Illinois state tree. This oak species is identified by the strong branches that grow at right angles to the trunk and by its distinctive rounded lobed leaves. Oaks are well-loved, long-lived trees. Its fruits are nuts called acorns and are a good source of protein for many animals. Their autumn leaves, though brown, are often retained throughout the winter.
Post 18 - American Chestnut
18.  American Chestnut - The American Chestnut tree once comprised a quarter of the eastern hardwood forest from Maine to Georgia and west to the Ohio River Valley, providing a valuable economic resource in both timber and nuts, as well as an abundant food source for wildlife. An accidentally imported Asiatic chestnut blight decimated approximately four billion trees with devastating results to Appalachian communities and economies. There is a great effort under way to restore the American Chestnut tree to the forests of eastern North America by breeding genetically diverse blight-resistant trees.
Post 19 - Viburnums
19.  Viburnums – On the right hand side of the path, before arriving at post 19, notice the Nannyberry, Blackhaw, Southern, and Fragrant Viburnums.  
Post 20 - Pin Oak and Northern Red Oak
20.  Pin Oak and Northern Red Oak – On your right is a Pin Oak that has characteristic drooping lower branches. On your left is a Northern Red Oak. Red Oaks can be distinguished from White Oaks by the pointed lobes on their leaves. White Oaks have rounded lobes on their leaves.
Post 21 - Honeylocust, Moraine Ash, and Sargent Cherry
21.  Honeylocust, Moraine Ash, and Sargent Cherry – The Honeylocust specimen in front of you is a Common Honeylocust. Notice its sharp thorns. Notice the Moraine Ash and Sargent Cherry on the other side of the path.
Post 22 - Beech Collection
22.  Beech Collection – European Beech trees have differing growth forms and leaf colors. The tree immediately in front of you is an upright form ‘Fastigata’. Look for many other beech cultivars such as the Weeping Purple Beech, ‘Purple Fountain’, the tricolor ‘Roseomarginata’ and an upright purple form named ‘Dawyck Purple’.
Post 23 - Magnolias
23. A magnificent display of color and fragrance from May into June, the Magnolia Collection at Klehm Arboretum has about 50 different labeled species and cultivars. The collection can be seen in this lawn area and by following the Wildflower Trail where you’ll see two large leaved Magnolia species: Cucumbertree Magnolia and Umbrella
Points of interest at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Credits: Exhibit

Continue on this path and return to the Visitor Center where you can see the many interesting items in our gift shop. Consider joining Klehm as a member so that you might enjoy it year round. We hope you enjoyed your visit!

Thank you for visiting Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden.


Credits: All media
The exhibit featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.