Klehm Arboretum’s 30th Annual Garden Fair

Through the years, proceeds from the annual Garden Fair at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St., have helped the organization become a top outdoor destination for families in northern Illinois.

Klehm’s Executive Director Alex Mills says the 30th anniversary of the Garden Fair takes place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 1, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, June 2, and features about 70 regional vendors.

“More than ever, we have reached out to vendors who will be a great fit for this event,” Mills says. “We have new and returning plant and flower vendors, garden tools for sale, and decorative items.”

Attendees can also stop by Klehm’s Fountain Garden, which turns into a weekend-long “Learning and Education Garden” where nonprofit organizations with a focus on gardening, nature, conservation and the environment offer demonstrations and information about their work.

Live music and a food court are also on site.

Visitors can see many of the recent changes at Klehm, including a bioretention basin filled with wetland plants near the Nancy Olson Children’s Garden. The basin helps prevent erosion and slows down the flow of storm water through the property.

“The pond was finished last spring and looks even more spectacular as the plants grow and flourish around it. It’s a beautiful focal point and a breathtaking view as people come into Klehm,” Mills says.

One of the new vendors at the Garden Fair this year is Anthony Nied, CEO and president of Flowering Lawn, Inc. in Eau Claire, Wis. A businessman, horticulturist and former owner of an organic lawn care company, he invented Flawn Seed Kits® that turn yards into flowering lawns.

Eight varieties of low-growing wildflowers and clover are designed to blend with grass and create a “flawn,” a flowering lawn that can take anywhere from six to 24 months to mature and is beneficial to people, pets and the environment, he says.

“It’s a trend growing in popularity because it’s an innovative solution to traditional lawn care that merges the utility of grass with the ecological benefits of wildflowers,” Nied says. “This is how lawns looked in the early 1900’s through mid-century before homeowners started using pesticides and lawn chemicals.”

People use the seed kits for different reasons, he says.

“Retirees like it because it is low maintenance. Other people like it because it is chemical-free and safe for the environment, people and pets, and attracts pollinators like Monarch butterflies,” he says.

Angie Acosta, founder and owner of Branching Out, Inc., has been a vendor at the Garden Fair for 15 years. This year, she’ll feature items for sale at her new Garden Center opening this month at her business at 6538 Ill Rt. 173 in Poplar Grove (formerly Lane’s Country Market). It’s a seasonal shop that will be open every spring and fall or by appointment.

In addition to the plants, trees, shrubs, flowers and stone she normally brings to the fair, she’ll also have home décor, garden art, benches and more.

“I love plants and have an artistic side,” she says. “I love designing landscapes and putting plants together for seasonal beauty. What began as a hobby turned into a business and the next step is the Garden Center so we can share more living things and unique items with the public.”

What began as an opportunity to promote her business has now grown into something more meaningful, she adds.

“We come back every year because we like the arboretum and the people who attend the fair.

Everyone is so interested in nature and wants to have a good time. Many people come back year after year and everyone comes away with ideas on how to enhance and enjoy their own gardens,” she says.

Presale tickets are $8 each beginning April 23 at various locations, including Gensler Gardens, 8631 11th St., Davis Junction, and their location at 102 Orth Road, Loves Park; Village Green at 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 are $10 at the gate and free for Klehm members and kids under 12 years old. All money raised goes to improve the arboretum’s grounds and gardens.