I attended the annual meeting of the University of Illinois Arboretum Board of Advisors last Thursday afternoon. Perhaps a two hour meeting doesn't sound like a pleasure...but it was! It was a great feeling to be with others that care for the Arboretum and are excited to plan for its future. The Arboretum is an incredible resource for the University, surrounding communities, and through it's trial gardens, the entire Midwest. Here at Japan House we consider ourselves most fortunate to be nestled within it.
The mission of the Arboretum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is to discover, interpret, and disseminate knowledge in the plant sciences and applied arts by providing an aesthetically enriched setting for education, research, conservation and enjoyment. Some of the major components of the Arboretum include Japan House, the Miles C Hartley Trials Garden, the Idea Garden, the Noel Welcome Garden and the Pollinatorium. Although Japan House and its gardens are certainly enough of a reason for a visit, there is much more here. The new walkway around the ponds near Japan House, which I wrote about some time ago, has added an entirely new dimension to spending time in the Arboretum. The views of Japan House are spectacular---I can't wait for cherry blossom time---or perhaps a snowy day!
There are many plans for the future of the Arboretum, for increased signage, plantings, walkways, etc. Although the future looks exciting, you don't have to wait for any of that. There is much to do and enjoy in the Arboretum right now. Tours of Japan House are available on the third Saturday of the month (November 20th this month) from 1:00 to 5:00. Tours are also available at 2:00, 3:00 and between 4:00 and 5:00 on Thursdays (excepting University breaks). Tours are free and if you wish to take part in a tea ceremony (available at 2:00 and 3:00 on Thursdays) it is only $8. Reservations are recommended for tea ceremonies as we sometimes sell out.
Group tours of the Arboretum and the Idea Garden are available upon request and the Pollinatorium is open on Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm (by appointment during the week). All tours are free. The Pollinatorium is accessed off Windsor Road, while the other areas of the Arboretum are accessed off of Lincoln Avenue, near St. Mary's Road. Click here for a map.
The Arboretum gardens, including those at Japan House, are open from dawn to dusk. There are still gorgeous colors to see in the landscape. The Japan House walled tea garden is closed once we have icy weather so plan a visit soon!