These days I have to spend a lot of time in Springfield, about 200 miles south of Chicago. Twice in the last two weeks I was able to get off work in time to take a walk at the Lincoln Memorial Garden, which is located on 100 acres along an artificial lake.
Let me stop here to apologize for the quality of these pictures. I took them all with my phone. During the first visit it was very overcast, during the second visit the light was better but everything was waving around in the wind. Both visits occurred during the last hour or so of sunlight. But it’s a garden with an interesting history so I wanted to do this post even without good photos.
This garden was created through a labor of love. A member of the Springfield Garden Club spearheaded the idea of a different sort of memorial to the 16th President, who lived in Springfield for most of his adult life. In 1935 she persuaded the City Council to donate the land, which initially consisted of farm fields along the newly created lake.
The landscape architect Jens Jensen donated his time to develop the garden’s design. He transformed the treeless fields into a mix of woodland and prairie. Only plants native to Illinois, Indiana, or Kentucky were used – all states where Lincoln spent parts of his youth.
Garden clubs from around the country donated funds for the wooden benches, each of which bears a quotation from Lincoln. Acorns were also contributed from many states, and several grew to become some very impressive oak trees.
In April, the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) are the stars of the Garden.
There are some unusually large old Redbud trees.
On my second visit, the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) were also at their peak.
I know these are very common trees in some parts of the country, but I think they are strikingly beautiful. Springfield is right around the northern edge of their hardiness range. In Chicago they are a risky proposition.
Along one path Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina) were blooming.
There were also lots of woodland wildflowers to be found, including masses of blue and white Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica).
In many places the ground was carpeted with False Rue Anemone (Enomion biternatum).
Here’s a fuzzy closeup of the flower. The leaves remind me of Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).
There was also a lot of Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaritica), and sometimes I caught whiffs of its sweet fragrance on the wind.
Many more wildflowers could be seen, some already blooming, others not. I hope to visit the Lincoln Memorial Garden every week or so through May (and maybe later, depending on my travel schedule) so I can post more updates.