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Our Gardens

The Arboretum's gardens, collections, and habitats are transforming 160 acres of the University's south campus in Urbana-Champaign into an exceptional "living laboratory" for students in plant sciences and fine and applied arts, as well as an oasis of natural beauty open to the public.

Close behind the inception of the University of Illinois in 1867 came the dream of building an area of ornamental grounds, orchards and forest plantations for use by the University and the citizens of Illinois. Although the vision for developing these ornamental grounds was present from the early years of the University, it was not until the later part of the 20th century that generous donations from alumni and friends began to bring the ideas of the University’s founders to fruition.

Miles C Hartley Selections Garden

walking in the Hartley Hartley garden in the fall
Made possible by a gift from the family of alumnus and faculty member Miles C Hartley, the garden offers hundreds of different flowering plants and is the home of the University of Illinois All American Selections Trial Garden. The Hartley Selections Garden, dedicated in the fall 1994, was the first stage in the Arboretum's development.

Noel Welcome Garden

Noel Welcome Garden Noel bench
The result of a generous gift of the Noel family, the Welcome Garden is dedicated to the grandchildren of Roseanne Noel. The Noel Welcome Garden provides a friendly gathering place and the invitation to contemplate the beauty of the outdoors. The pergola, benches, and crabapple hedges provide a sense of shelter and welcome for visitors.

Idea Garden

Noel Welcome Garden Noel Welcome Garden
The Idea Garden is an ongoing project of the Master Gardeners of the Champaign County Extension Unit. The garden showcases the latest in borders, ornamentals, and vegetables. In addition, there is a special section of the garden for children. Detailed resource information on plants and design ideas is available for each section of the Idea Garden, making it an ideal learning environment for both novices and more advanced gardeners.

American Hosta Society National Display Garden

Hosta Garden Hostas
Designated as a National Display Garden in 2013, the Hosta Garden was developed in 2010 and planted in 2011 by members of the Illinois Prairie Hosta Society (IPHS) and contains a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures known to hosta collectors. There are 61 species and 7,400 cultivars known today. While hostas are shade loving, many do best with 4 to 6 hours of morning sun, and flourish under trees where there is dappled shade. Many of the hostas you will find in our gardens were donated by members of IPHS from their originator stock collections.

Japan House

Japan House in spring Japanese Garden
The House is comprised of three rooms which were originally constructed in Japan, then shipped to the University and reassembled by Japanese carpenters. These rooms provide formal, semiformal and informal settings, and showcase furnishings provided by the Urusenke Tea School, the premier tea school in Japan. Tranquil gardens surround the House, typical of the Japanese style designed for harmony—tea, dry (raked gravel) and strolling. Japan House is used as a classroom and a cultural center, with regularly scheduled classes teaching Japanese tea ceremony class, calligraphy class, and Japanese art forms.

Sen Cherry Tree Allee

Sen Cherry Tree Allee Sen Cherry Tree Allee
The Sen Cherry Tree Allee was made possible by gifts from Dr. Genshitsu Sen and Dr. and Mrs. Luting Liao in 2008. The cherry tree blossoms create a mesmerizing canopy that attracts visitors of all ages eager to welcome spring's arrival. The idea to add a variety of cherry trees to the Japan House landscape evolved during a garden tour and conversation between Dr. Sen and former Japan House director Kimiko Gunji. Dr. Sen was a former grandmaster of one of Japan's san-Senke (three schools) of Japanese tea ceremony - the Urasenke Tradition of Chado. Dr. Sen sent master landscape gardener Katsuo Kubo to design the project and oversee the installation.

Romweber & Santogrossi Families Linden Allee

Romweber family linden race
A major gift from Jane Romweber Santogrossi and Dr. John Santogrossi established 12 benches within the Linden Allee at the Arboretum. These benches were dedicated on August 5, 2013 to Frank and Margery Romweber and Fred and Dorine Santogrossi and the importance they placed on an Illinois education. Their encouragement helped 12 family members receive an Illinois degree.


MooreWedding ponds in winter
Restoration work on the ponds in September 2012 involved removing invasive plants and cattails, grading and mulching the banks, planting new beds along the banks and installing over 26,000 plantings of native submergent and prairie plants. >> Learn more

Dr. Frank Kari Walkway

walkway Michaelawalkway
The Dr. Frank W. Kari Walkway was dedicated on September 27, 2012. The project, made possible through the generous Kari family trust in Frank’s name, greatly enhances accessibility by providing safe and sturdy sidewalks around this living laboratory. It also enhances the Arboretum’s value as an outdoor classroom with the addition of more than 20,000 native plant. >> Learn more

Oak Grove

mayan_oaks schaferwedding