Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Garden

The local University of Illinois Extension office partners with Lake Katherine to provide a variety of volunteer opportunities including maintaining the gardens and grounds and conducting tours. Another wonderful public garden in the Chicago area, Lake Katherine is an easy commute from home, and a place where I hope to devote some MG volunteer hours. Tuesday our Master Gardener class visited Lake Katherine for a tour, orientation, and a pot-luck lunch social.
The Heritage Garden at Lake Katherine is a large organic demonstration garden featuring a variety of fruits and vegetables.

This was my first visit to Lake Katherine, although I've been hearing about it for years. It's still early in the season and not much is going on there yet, but we could tell in a few weeks this place will be beautiful.

I love old rusty stuff, especially old farm equipment. This display is located near the Heritage Garden.

It was a chilly, windy day, but we dressed warmly and enjoyed our tour.

More old rusty stuff. I fell in love with the old wood stove.

One of several sculptures at Lake Katherine carved from felled trees.

The man-made waterfall aerates the water before it joins the lake, benefiting the ecosystem of the 20-acre man-made lake, including the resident beaver and swans.

Entrance to the conifer garden

Another delightful tree-trunk carving.

I'm looking forward to seeing the butterfly garden bloom.

A view of the large herb garden.

Lake Katherine

Lake Katherine offers a variety of programs for children and families, school and scouting groups. There are special events throughout the season, and the clubhouse at Lake Katherine is a popular venue for weddings and other special events. There are many lovely spots for wedding party photos. The indoor nature center is an educational spot for families and groups, with a variety of flora and fauna including snakes, rabbits, frogs, and a very cute and popular ferret who enjoys lots of naps in the hammock in his aquarium home.

I hope to spend some of my volunteer time at Lake Katherine, and will share more photos from this beautiful spot as the season progresses.


  1. good morning Miss Linda this looks like fun.
    I love the big butterfly's
    my horoscope this morning said to go shopping in a used-furniture, vintage clothing or antiques store. There is an undiscovered gem waiting to be found ..

    I think the gems are right here on your blog this morning... something about rust gets me excited

    have a wonderful day.
    hugs, Cherry

  2. Hi Linda, What a terrific garden they've put together....and it would be fun to volunteer there. I love the raised herb bed and wonder how the design looks and works when in full growth. I love that rusty wood stove...wouldn't it be nice on a patio with a fire going! Have a good day~~gail

  3. Aw, thank you Cherry! We have a few stores like that around here, and they're so much fun! I saw an old rusty stove similar to the one they have at Lake Katherine in one of those stores last year. It was very tempting! I did find a nice, rusty old milk can at one of those stores last fall for $5.00. It's in the garage until I figure out what to do with it.

  4. Good morning Gail, I'm looking forward to seeing the place come alive this spring, seeing the gardens growing and blooming. Looks like a neat place to take my grandson too. I think he'd really enjoy exploring there.

    That old stove would great on the patio - I'll be on the lookout for something like that. Apparently they found the old farm and homestead equipment buried in the soil as they created the gardens there - reminds me of the potato farm I visited near Mom's place last summer with the old pickups and farm equipment.

    If that stuff could talk, I'd love to hear the stories of the people who left it behind.

  5. Hi Linda, That sounds like a neat place and a great place to volunteer, especially as it's near your home. I also love the rusted things, especially the stove. They used to have such intricate designs. Our snow has mostly melted, hooray!

  6. Hi Monica, can't wait to see the place blooming - one more beautiful garden in the area I'd never seen before!

    The snow is mostly melted here, but it's still pretty chilly. We're at 34 degrees now - up from 29 about an hour ago.

  7. Ah yes I'd love to spend time at the lake. So pretty! Whenever you mention rusty stuff, I have to smile and think of the rusty old autos you showed. I like them too:)

  8. Good morning Tina, they even have a resident beaver in the lake. All the trees around the lake have chicken wire around the trunks to protect them from his chewing. I wish I'd gotten a photo of the resident swans when I first arrived. By the time we went on our tour, they'd flown off.

    Love that old rusty stuff!

  9. wow Linda! I bet you'll enjoy your volunteering there. A conifer garden! Nice. Great looking waterfall.

  10. I'm looking forward to working there Kim and Victoria! I'd love to be a tour guide, but I'll be working at my (real) job during tour hours. Playing in the gardens will fun too!

  11. I'm sure that was an enjoyable day. I love places like that. It'll all be green and growing before too long. I'll look forward to seeing more pics as the season progresses.
    Happy Easter, Linda!

  12. Anonymous1:47 PM

    What a lovely Botanic Garden. Hope you will be going back later this season so we can see all the different gardens as they evolve. That man-made waterfall is fantastic!

  13. Hi Kerri, it's nice to have a place like Lake Katherine reasonably close to home! It looks like I'll be back there on Arbor Day to do some volunteer work, but I'll probably wait until later in the season to take more photos - probably won't be a lot different than now on Arbor Day.

    Hope you have a happy Easter too!

    I loved that waterfall Racquel. The sound of it was wonderful, and it's very pretty. I plan to be back there - hope I can spend a lot of time there in the next few months, whether volunteering or just to explore. I'm sure I'll have more photos to share later in the season.

  14. I really like those carvings.

  15. Brenda, aren't they cool! There were quite a few of them scattered around the park. They all had lots of personality, and some were old enough that unfortunately the wood was beginning to rot. Seems to me they should be preserved. They're all works of art - made me want to learn wood carving!

  16. I'm looking forward to seeing photos when it's all in bloom. This looks like a great place. The lake is beautiful.

  17. It sure does look pretty there. It looks like it will be a great place for you to spend your volunteer hours. I can't wait to see it all in bloom.

  18. Me too MMD - I'm looking forward to seeing it in bloom. Wish I'd taken a photo of the swans when I first arrived. They looked so pretty gliding on that lake!

    I think I'll really enjoy being there Catherine. It's about a 30 minute drive, so I'm glad travel time counts towards my hours!

  19. Very cool place. I think we should see if we could add it to CSF! :0P

    That last sculpture has me smiling for some reason. The bear/wolf/dog on the left looks so funny.

  20. MMD, what I meant to say. . . I'll enjoy being there at Lake Katherine. Sheesh, I've been doing that alot lately. I need to slow down - I've been rushing through everything lately.

    Hope your toe is feeling alot better.

    MBT, I think you'd like it. The main visitor area is west of Harlem Avenue, but cross Harlem, and on the east side there are acres and acres of undeveloped woodland and prairie habitat that are part of Lake Katherine too. I couldn't figure out where to park on that side, but I really want to see the woodland over there.

    Thank goodness SF's schedule is set and now it's a matter of finalizing details! But definitely, anytime garden bloggers might find themselves in the south suburbs, Lake Katherine is a very nice place to visit.

  21. A fun adventure for sure and one I also would have enjoyed. Happy Easter, Linda!

  22. That looks like a great place and will be even greater later in the year. It's funny, with all the volunteering I do, I haven't done any at the local botanical sites here.

  23. This looks like a beautiful place to work at, Linda. I'm sure there are many perennials that will be shooting up soon, but right now it looks like a blank canvas--can't wait to see how it progresses over the summer. I've always wondered--are you assigned a small area to work with or is a group given a large garden area to plant together? I'd love to see, too, how they incorporate the rusty machinery--we have several pieces sitting around here:)

  24. I'm glad we went last Tuesday and not today Joey - the temperature's about the same today, but it's raining. Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

    Hi Elizabeth, I'm looking forward to seeing it again when more is going on! I used to live 5 minutes from Lake Catherine - can't believe I never went there before!

    Rose, I think it's going to be gorgeous if the weather ever warms up and things start blooming!

    I'm not sure exactly how they assign volunteers. I know we can volunteer for specific assignments, such as leading tours or working in the gardens. Saturday I'll be working there for Arbor Day. I think we'll have a Master Gardener booth, maybe with some seedling trees for the occasion. It's all new to me, so I'm not sure exactly what all I'll be doing there!

    I think they just leave the rusty stuff where it is - not really incorporated into the gardens. My imagination runs wild with all the possibilities of what could be done with that stuff!

  25. Anonymous4:14 PM

    This was loads of fun to see and read.

  26. Thanks Anna! Glad you enjoyed the garden tour.

  27. Thanks for sharing your garden experience.I have to travel to Chicago next month and i will surely visit Lake Katherine nature center.
    Outdoor Furniture


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