A Message From Our Executive Director

Updated 4/10/2020

Spring is here! And it brings many changes for us all in this most unique and unprecedented of times. Nature, however, will not be diverted, and Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden will continue to flourish as the seasons change.  

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is announcing several updates, both broad and specific, as to how our organization is adapting and responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: 

  • First and foremost, the grounds and gardens of Klehm remain open daily, from 9 AM to 4 PM. While the Visitor’s Center and Clarcor Restrooms are closed, you are welcome and encouraged to walk our many paths and trails in order to enjoy the beauty of spring (and, of course, we ask that you follow all recommended social distancing guidelines while doing so). 
  • In continuing to follow Gov. Pritzker’s Executive Order regarding minimum business operations, we have suspended all volunteer activities for the time being. While disappointing, it is ultimately the right thing to do to help protect the health of everyone involved. We are of course looking forward to a day soon when our valued volunteers can rejoin us and can dig-in on some long-awaited projects and activities! 
  • Our favorite holiday of the year, Arbor Day, will still occur on Friday, April 24, and we are excited to announce that Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden will conduct a drive-thru tree seedlings giveaway in our parking lot from 9 AM to 4 PM that day. We will utilize a system to allow members of the public to drive up, roll down their car window, take a free tree seedling of their choosing from one of several “stations”, and then depart. Staff will then replenish the station with the next free tree seedling (while supplies last), thereby ensuring social distancing guidelines will be met and no health risks will occur. We are beyond excited to distribute these free tree seedlings (courtesy of Living Lands & Waters) and to also celebrate the holiday with the City of Rockford’s Arbor Day Proclamation, which will be on view for participants of the drive-thru giveaway. 
  • Our Arbor Dash 5K Fun Run, scheduled to occur the evening of Friday, April 24, has unfortunately been cancelled. Our intent is to host a Fall Color 5K Fun Run later in the year, when the trails and paths at Klehm will be alight with vibrant changing colors.  
  • Several upcoming programs and events that were lined up for National Public Gardens Week in May have now been rescheduled or modified: 
    • We are currently working to reschedule two spring-focused events (Blooming! A Breakfast for Klehm and Botanica: Melodies In Bloom) for the autumn season. We may rename and reposition these events in order to better fit the beautiful fall season in which they will be held, and they will occur during the week of October 5, 2020. Our intent is to host a variety of lectures, seminars, tours and other activities throughout the week leading up to our season-headlining Autumn At The Arboretum community event on Sunday, October 11, 2020. 
    • A free educational lecture by Mark Dwyer, former Director of Horticulture for Rotary Gardens and a renowned garden speaker in his own right, that is scheduled for May will be hosted virtually rather than in-person at Klehm. Our staff are hard at work determining when and how to best host this event so that as many interested patrons as possible can attend electronically as they prepare for spring, so keep an eye on our Facebook Page and e-Newsletters so you don’t miss out! 
    • Finally, our Annual Plant Sale will be cancelled for this year, and our planned youth program Kids Dig Gardening: A Hands-On Workshop will be rescheduled to a later summer date. 
    • In the short-term, many of our hosted third-party programs have had to be cancelled or postponed. Rest assured our staff are working with instructors and guides to determine dates later in the spring and summer when these great classes and experiences can be safely held. Once rescheduled, we will make announcements and let you know as soon as we can! 
    • At this time, we intend to carry out and host our Annual Garden Fair on June 6 and 7, 2020. We ask for the understanding of everyone – vendors, members, guests and volunteers – in knowing that this may have to change, and that governmental restrictions or guidelines on gatherings may prohibit the event from occurring. Our intent is to comply with whatever action is ultimately in the best interest of public health. In the event that Garden Fair cannot occur as scheduled, we will hold a Fall Garden Fair on September 26 and 27, 2020. This alternate date will hopefully allow as many vendors and visitors to participate as possible and will serve as a great opportunity to get out, visit Klehm, and purchase plants, garden art, and the like. Remember, Klehm is beautiful no matter the time of year, and it is always a blessing to be outdoors. 

We will of course be providing more updates in the future as things become more clearly defined. Again, your understanding and patience is most appreciated as we adapt, respond and continue to fulfill our mission: To maintain a living museum for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of all people. 

I want to close by saying that on a personal level, I am happy that Klehm has continued to serve as a source of inspiration, outdoor refuge and beauty for so many of you during this difficult time. I also want to thank our staff and our Board of Directors for continuing to work hard to keep our organization strong and resilient, and finally, want to thank each of you for your continued support and patronageI wish you the best in staying positive, healthy and optimistic moving forward, and I hope to see you at Klehm sometime soon. 

Warm Regards, 


Alexander S. Mills, Executive Director