The Garden Fair is the biggest fundraiser of the year at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Visitors will notice some new features and vendors this year, and improvements to the arboretum itself, located at 2715 S. Main St.
About 70 regional vendors will participate. Hours will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 4, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, June 5.
“More than ever, we’ve reached out to vendors who will be a great fit for this event,” says Klehm Executive Director Alex Mills. “We’ll have new and returning plant and flower vendors, more garden tools and decorative items.”
Klehm’s Fountain Garden will turn into a weekend-long Learning and Education Garden, where non-profit organizations with a focus on gardening, nature, conservation and the environment will offer demonstrations, talks, and information about their work. Live music and a food court will also be present.
Garden Fair attendees can also check out the improvements at Klehm.
A new pond and water feature is under construction at the arboretum’s entrance, with a waterfall and patio. Solar panels will be installed on the back roof of the Visitor’s Center to make operations more environmentally friendly. And a bioretention basin has been completed to slow down the flow of storm water erosion through the property, Mills says. It’s located near the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden and will be filled with wetland plants to keep water under control.
Also in the works are plans for a major seasonal summer exhibit. Klehm will host Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects Made with LEGO Bricks, June 11-Sept. 11. This award-winning exhibition will be composed of 15 large garden and nature themed sculptures composed entirely of LEGO bricks.
“Some things are more noticeable than others, but we’re always at work continuously improving Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden,” Mills says.
One of the new Garden Fair vendors is Little Black Rake of Gladwin, Mich. David and Mary Moore, owners of Stone Cottage Gardens, said they stopped at Klehm after a visit to Wisconsin. They introduced Klehm to the rake, which is now for sale in the gift shop, and have a booth at Garden Fair this year.
“We’re coming to Garden Fair because we want people outside of Michigan to discover what a great product we have and the many ways people use it – to rake leaves, pick up acorns from grass, take out debris in garden beds without disturbing plants. Farmers use it to clean out animal pens,” Mary says.
The lightweight but sturdy double-tined rake is made from all recyclable materials in the USA.
Michelle Cox, owner of The Landscape Connection, says her business has been at the Garden Fair every year since 2013. The fair is a win-win for everyone, she says, since it promotes businesses like hers, supports Klehm and gives customers a chance to get outdoors, socialize and find good deals.
“We’ll be featuring all those wonderful items you need to create your own personal outdoor space, whether that’s just on the porch or out in the yard,” says Cox. “We try to be different and offer things other vendors are not selling.”
Cox is always on the lookout for unique items to stock her store at 4472 S. Mulford Road. She’s also the owner of Image Pros, which specializes in asphalt, concrete and landscaping. Stem Floral, a full-service floral shop, is housed inside The Landscape Connection.
Among items for sale at the Garden Fair this year is repurposed glass and garden art from Artsy Garden Glass & Metal Art; plants from Bloom and Grow Gardens, Inc.; trees, shrubs, flowers and landscaping materials from Branching Out, Inc.; yard art, tree trellises, obelisks and birdhouses by Creekside Peddler; honey and one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry from Designs by Jeff; hand-poured soy candles from Emily’s Candles & Bath; Stone art for home and garden from Filigree Studios; nature photography by Griffin Photo and Design; succulents, houseplants and planters from John’s Plants; gourmet dip mixes and handmade wicker dip chillers by Dip’n Good Dips; hair accessories for gardening by Lilla Rose Hair Accessories; air plants, terrariums and fairy gardens by Mama T’s Air-Plants; paintings and handmade cards by Peony Girl; Wooden signs and stakes by Sign After Sign; hand-cast garden stones from Stonecrete; statues, windchimes and lawn art by What’s New; and native plants from Wild Ones.
Presale tickets are $7 at Gensler Gardens, 8631 11th St., Davis Junction, and 102 Orth Road, Loves Park; Village Green, 6101 Riverside and 2640 N. Main St. in Rockford; Didier Greenhouse, 4601 W. State St.; The Landscape Connection, 4472 S. Mulford Road; Meridian Nursery, 7219 Cunningham Road; and Pepper Creek, 7295 Harrison Ave. Tickets at the door are $10 and admission is free for Klehm members and kids under 12. All proceeds will be used to improve the arboretum’s grounds and gardens. ❚