In this “Visiting Midwest Gardens” feature, Flower Chick spotlights the beautiful Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens in Mahomet, Illinois. Join us to discover what makes this picturesque setting so special!
Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens are located in central Illinois, 12 miles northwest of Champaign. The gardens are found a mile north of Interstate 74 on Route 47 in the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve. If you’re visiting from the Chicago area, take I-55 south to Route 47 in Dwight. Travel south on 47 for 65 miles and you’ve arrived … Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens are on your left.
The garden is administered and maintained by the Champaign County Forest Preserve District and there’s no admission charge to enter the 8 acre site. Access the gardens via the Museum of the Grand Prairie (also no admission fee), or go around the museum’s east side to the entrance gate …
The Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens date back many decades. Originally, they were limited to a small area surrounding the adjacent museum. In the mid 1970’s, a major renovation expanded the site and the gardens eventually evolved to the eight acre setting you see today …
Did You Know? Original renovation efforts were spearheaded by the Champaign County Forest Preserve District founder, Harold Gelvin. The gardens are named in honor of his wife Mabery …
In 2019, the entire pond and waterfall area underwent a complete renovation. The pond was completely drained and repaired along with removal of six million pounds of silt and debris. The results are spectacular as you can see below!
New perennial beds were added recently as well as close to two million pounds of boulders and rocks. Interestingly, the Forest Preserve District made use of downed trees around the county. Several were placed in the pond to provide safe habitat for fish, turtles, and frogs.
Recently redesigned, the pond allows fish to winter in place. One side of the pond is six feet deep, which allows fish to safely survive winter conditions …
The pond is now stocked with over two dozen koi, with scores of thriving native plants surrounding the water feature. Flower Chick loves feeding koi and noticed a koi food dispenser by the pond. However, there was a warning sign indicating that they should not be fed if the temperature is under 60 degrees. We visited early in the morning and temps were hovering around 55 so didn’t want to harm the colorful fish. Next time!
The container and pocket gardens nestled along the Enabling Garden patio pop with happy hues! Very attractive arrangements of petunias, osteospermum, and calibrachoa draw your eyes to the area.
Stroll the paved pathways and enjoy the well-tended garden beds. This is the perfect place to get some fresh air and exercise in beautiful surroundings!
Note the educational focus in the gardens is not on its flowers, but on its precious trees. “Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat” highlights endangered and near extinct tree species and encourages visitors to take proper care of these disappearing majestic skyscrapers. This exhibit starts at the Nature Trail and winds beside the Enabling Garden … below is an example of one of the tree signs that peppers this area.
The garden also offers some hands-on fun for the younger set: including tree stumps and rocks on which to clamber, a nature trail in the shade to explore, plus watching and feeding the bright-colored, fascinating koi.
Summary – Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens
Flower Chick visited on a beautiful sunny late summer morning and we hope our pictures and narrative do justice to this wonderful central Illinois botanical site. From the garden and the town of Mahomet, it’s only a half hour drive to Decatur, with the state capital of Springfield another half hour beyond …
For garden lovers, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens are perfectly located for an Illinois day trip. It’s easily accessible from Interstate 74 (to Bloomington-Normal and Peoria) and Interstate 72 (Decatur and Springfield). Both Decatur and particularly Springfield offer ample affordable overnight accommodation options … go ahead and plan a weekend getaway!
We’re so happy to spotlight the wonderful efforts of the Champaign County Forest Preserve staff at the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens and encourage you to visit and enjoy this colorful and photogenic site. Be sure to check out all our “Visiting Midwest Gardens” features … there are a few linked below or see the top drop down menu for even more inspiration.
We hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens!