I was recently SHOCKED to realize that I have never written an entire column about the U of I Arboretum, despite the fact that the Arboretum is indisputably among the top 10 places to hang out in Chambana. Thus I recently visited the Arboretum for a little stroll. However the day I was there it was HOT and HUMID beyond the comprehension of fragile human constitutions. As such, in this column, I’ll be breaking down the best, and worst, places at the Arboretum to take a little break from your walk, sit down, and fan yourself.
First off, let’s run down some of the worst places to stop for a quick fan. Any spot in full direct sunlight is just terrible. For instance you’d have to be a Grade-A nincompoop to pause here on this white hot stone compass.
For that matter, there are many benches which are made of stone and also positioned in full sunlight. Note that these will burn your bum, and any other bit of your body you happen to set on them.
You’d think having a sit on a nice grassy knoll would be better… and it is… marginally, but this is an arboretum for god’s sake, go find some shade!
Ahh, that’s much better.
Even though leanin’ isn’t nearly as good as sittin’, it’s still hard to beat taking a break against a friendly old tree. The Arboretum has lots of friendly trees, as you might expect.
The Idea Garden has some of the most whimsical sittin’ spots in the whole Arboretum. Having a seat in the big gazebo is a solid choice. Great views of the Idea Garden, plus it’s big and open enough to catch a breeze (if there is one).
If you’re somewhat shorter than me, you might enjoy a respite in the “Children’s Garden.”
Wait, that’s not me.
There we go.
Two spots in the Idea Garden I would NOT recommend unless you’re feeling particularly whimsical are the flower cone, and the butterfly bench.
Though the flower cone does provide some shade, it’s actually hotter inside than outside. However, being inside the cone does make you feel like a weird little toad or gnome.
Butterfly bench is in full sunlight (boo) and made of metal (ouch!) but, if you want to be completely surrounded by bees, butterflies and other helpful pollinators, this is the place!
Ok, just one more exception to the “no full sunlight” rule. The bridge over the ponds is not a great place to rest on a sweltering day.
But it IS a great place to say hello to some turtles, and that has to count for something.
I found this other gazebo nestled near the Japan House. Even though I may look extremely comfortable, this bench wasn’t the most ergonomic, and the Japan House actually blocked the breeze. Not ideal!
I bet you thought I’d pick the Nick Offerman gazebo as the best sittin’ and fannin’ spot didn’t you? While you’re right it is a lovely spot with a great view of the pond. The bench is simply not great for lounging.
Similarly, the Oak Grove, and “American Hosta Society National Display Garden” area has tons of places to sit, but they’re not the most comfortable. However, if you absolutely have to get out of the sun, this is the most shaded part of the whole Arboretum. Though that also means the breeze can’t always find you.
These benches however, are surprisingly comfortable!
You can find many of them in the “Romweber & Santogrossi Families Linden Allée.” That’s a bit of a mouthful so I usually just call this area “The Allée.” Since I’m cultured, I didn’t have to look it up, but for the benefit of you readers, know that an allée is “an alley in a formal garden or park, bordered by trees or bushes.” The more you know!
So, what’s my #1 favorite spot to stop and fan myself on a real scorcher of a day? As we all well know, the Miles C. Hartley Selections Garden is one of the crown jewels of the Arboretum. There’s benches around the entire perimeter, so some of them are bound to be shaded at any given time. The benches are wooden and large enough for you to spread out.
Oh yeah, now this is what comfort looks like.
And you can’t beat these views!
Anyhow, there are hundreds of other possible sitting/fanning locations I didn’t even mention. I guess my main point is, next time it’s absolutely sweltering, maybe instead of staying inside all day, take a stroll around the Arboretum, get drenched in sweat, and say hello to some turtles. I may look close to death in some of these photos, but really I was having a great time!
(PLEASE REMEMBER TO STAY HYDRATED)