by Ann Londrigan
“The creation and completion of the Accessible Trail and entryway go hand in hand with the Garden’s mission and purpose. Many more visitors now will have the opportunity to safely walk or wheel themselves under a native woodland canopy, join their friends inside one of the council rings, and gain a greater appreciation of nature and the peace it provides.”
Cathy Slater, President of Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation
Despite weather setbacks and pandemic-related delays, the new accessible walkway at Lincoln Memorial Garden is complete.
The vision for this project was to create an accessible trail so all can enjoy the beauty of the Garden, including famed landscape designer Jens Jensen’s signature stone council rings.
“The Accessible Trail provides all users the ability to enjoy several key design elements of the Garden such as a council ring, native tree groves, an open prairie meadow, and a view of lake Springfield,” says Neil Brumleve, Massie Massie & Associates. “Along the short trail loop, visitors will experience many of the key design elements of the Garden. Shady areas and filtered sun openings along the trail provide a unique experience, and the curved walkway will keep people wondering what is around the next turn.”
He adds: “I am very excited about the new gathering area that was created in front of the Nature Center. This space will be used by so many individuals, groups and organizations before and after they stroll along the Garden’s various trails or visit the Nature Center.”
Materials such as the wall stone, pavers, sidewalk finish and even the drainage grates were carefully selected to blend into the surrounding landscape and appear as though these improvements were incorporated into the original Garden design.
About the Trail Border
by Cathy Slater
The green blanket of sprouting grasses along the new Nature Center entryway is thanks to a layer of biodegradable straw netting placed over graded soil sown with a seed mix of annual rye, perennial rye, bluegrass and creeping red fescue. An areawide scattering of granular fertilizer, plus Head Gardener Larry Miller’s vigilant watering during the dry month of September, got it off to a good start.
The sprouting grass seen along the south side of the newly completed Accessible Trail leading to Council Ring #3 is a sterile, annual wheat. This temporary cover crop grass will hold the soil and protect the savanna native seed mix sown there in early October. Savanna seed mixes do well in partly sunny and partly shaded areas and include shooting star, Golden Alexander, Solomon Seal, purple coneflower and more. This area will take up to three years to reach its seasons-long blooming glory.
Across the trail, native sweet shrub and beauty bush were planted in November. Plenty of space among these pollinator-loving shrubs will allow room for them to spread and show off their seasonal colors to hikers, walkers and strollers alike!
Accessibility at the Garden
Limited parking for persons with disabilities is available in the main parking lot and next to the Garden’s Nature Center, which can be reached via the Nature Center’s service drive. A paved sidewalk allows additional accessibility from the main parking lot to the Nature Center. At the midpoint of this sidewalk, there is a new accessible trail loop leading through the woodlands to Council Ring #3 with its lake and meadow views, then to the Nature Center. The Ostermeier Prairie Center includes a half-mile Accessible Trail that passes through tallgrass prairies and around a small pond. Other trail surfaces are either wood-chipped or grass.