Accessible Trail Complete

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.


Celebrating the Garden Through Photography

Fourth Annual “Images of Lincoln Memorial Garden” Photo Contest

by Kathy Andrews Wright


Winners have been announced in the 2020 “Images of Lincoln Memorial Garden” Photography Contest. The annual contest encourages Garden visitors to share their perspectives and experiences of visits to the Sangamon County site.

The votes have been tabulated, and the 2020 People’s Choice winner is nine-year-old Cooper Appenzeller, whom judges selected as the first place winner in the 15 and Under Living Creatures Category. Judges were entranced by Cooper’s photograph of a mallard family perched on a log and appreciated the detail and excellent exposure of a special moment between a mother and her ducklings.

“Cooper hasn’t been exposed to an actual ‘camera’ yet and took the impromptu mallard family photo with a phone,” explained his grandmother, Cindy Appenzeller. “We go to Lincoln Memorial Garden almost weekly, and he thoroughly enjoys all of our hikes!”

“I was blown away by the number of entries this year,” remarked contest judge Dannyl Dolder. “In these uncertain times, it is nice to see so many people pick up a camera and actively seek the beauty that still exists. I enjoyed seeing the many creative and sometimes humorous perspectives of this Garden. Keep exploring and sharing your images!”

A new category for the 2020 contest, “Celebrating Life at Lincoln Memorial Garden,” proved especially poignant.

“The Garden is an integral part of the lives of area residents who normally attend the multitude of annual events and programs hosted at the Garden, and it provides a spectacular backdrop for photographs documenting significant events in a person’s life,” LMG Executive Director Joel Horwedel explained. “This year, the Garden became a respite from the COVID-19 restrictions that were enacted and we were so pleased that many community members valued the Garden as a place to unwind and recharge, and that they took the time to photograph their experiences and discoveries in nature.”

The contest included three additional categories: Living Creatures, Wildflowers and Landscapes.

The 2020 contest shattered participation records, with a 57 percent increase in the number of images submitted (compared to 2019) and triple the number of participants.

Usually the judging process involves gathering at the LMG Nature Center over coffee and apple cider donuts, with a lively discussion and good-humored banter among the judges as they lobby each other to examine the details of their favorite photos. In the year of COVID-19, the process was quieter, with the judges individually viewing PowerPoint presentations to score the 423 images submitted by 85 photographers, followed by a Zoom meeting to discuss the highest scoring images and finalize their decisions.

“We sincerely thank all the participants and the judges for their patience as we developed a new, pandemic-friendly review process,” Cathy Slater, President of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation said. “Even the selection of the People’s Choice photo, normally a vote during our annual fall festival, was revamped to an electronic voting process.”

The 2020 judges were Dannyl Dolder, Registrar of Art and Photographer at the Illinois State Museum; John Muchow, local professional photographer and Dick Adorjan, a photojournalist, retiree from the Illinois Department of Transportation and former member of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Board of Directors.

“We had such a large number of good photographs that judging was a happy challenge,” said Dick Adorjan. “The images illustrated the diversity and beauty of the Garden, and it is always a joy to experience the Garden through the eyes of others.”

“I was pleased to see so many people go out and take photos during the pandemic lockdown,” John Muchow remarked. “The Garden is a great location to spend time with the family and experience nature.”


People’s Choice: Cooper Appenzeller (mallard family on a log)


Youth, 15 and Under


Celebrating Life:






First Place: Gianna Johnson (girl on bench reading book)

Honorable Mentions:

Laiken Batten (Lincoln parking sign)

Brady Bosworth (hiker on trail)

Brady Bosworth (two people sitting on bench)








First Place: Laiken Batten (view of Lake Springfield)

Honorable Mentions:

Sophia Fernandez (mushrooms)

Grace Lipe (dewy leaves)

Adira Nelson (view through splintered wood)

Leah Russell (leaf)


Living Creatures:






First Place: Cooper Appenzeller (mallard family on log)

Honorable Mentions:

Sophia Fernandez (butterfly on leaf)

Leah Russell (praying mantis)

 Anders Schnell (spider)








First Place: Ella Krueger (closeup of yellow flower)

Honorable Mentions:

Ella Krueger (blazing star)

Adilene McCulloch (yellow flower)

Gwen Nelson (thistle flower)


Adult, 16 and over


Celebrating Life:






First Place: Tammy Miller (boys at Cypress Beach)

Honorable Mentions:

Lindsey Batten (boy at beach)

Cynthia Gallo-Callan (pans at Maple Syrup Days)

Erin Rothfus (four children at lakeshore)

Scott Sharkey (taking a photograph of deer)

Phillip Wheat (jumping for joy by bench)








First Place: Patty Biggers (sunset view of lake)

Honorable Mentions:

Allen Davis (Walgreen Bridge)

Michael Walwer (maple leaves)

Phillip Wheat (Cypress Beach)


Living Creatures:






First Place: Phillip Wheat (pelican)

Honorable Mentions:

Benjamin Chapman (frog in duckweed)

Tammy Miller (tiger butterfly)

Anne Scrivner (bluebird with nesting material)

Anne Scrivner (mallard standing on turtle)

Anne Scrivner (snapping turtle)








First Place: Amanda Castelman (closeup of dogwood flower)

Honorable Mentions:

Amanda Castleman (closeup of bluebell)

Tammy Miller (mushroom holding water)

Beth Stooksbury (arching green plant)

Cydney Walter (snow-dusted mayapples)

Winter Fun in the Garden

by Ann Londrigan


Springfield, with its yearly average of 18 inches of snow, is not a snow sports paradise. Our neighbor to the north, Chicago, averages 38.5 inches. Head 2,000 miles west for the snowiest place in the United States, Paradise Ranger Station at Mount Rainer National Park, Washington, averaging 643 inches of the white stuff.

Still, when we do get that occasional snow dump—like the 8.4-inches that fell on January 12, 2019—the Garden is this area’s ideal place to cross-country ski or snowshoe. No skis? Put on warm boots with some good traction and go exploring.

It’s a breathtakingly beautiful sight to behold: the Garden covered in freshly fallen snow. Bare trees reveal distant views of the lake. Animal tracks give clues to hideouts and food sources.

With little action on the lake, and birds and animals less active, a peaceful quiet fills the air.

“Even when there’s no snow, in the winter you get to see a lot that you don’t normally see,” says Audra Walters, Environmental Educator for the Garden. “Without the leaves you can see animal homes, bird nests along the lower limbs, and tons of those round, messy squirrel nests called dreys often built up high in the forks of trees or inside tree cavities.”

“Winter is also a good time to spot animals that are still here,” says Audra. “Deer, squirrels, chipmunks. And birds that do not migrate including the cardinal, tufted titmouse and ring-billed gull along the lakeshore.”

In February and March, depending on the weather, thousands of snow geese migrate through with a stop on Lake Springfield. The sound is loud, and the sight is truly awesome as they fly up and around in unison.

Audra leads the Garden’s Junior Naturalist program, which she hopes can resume safely next year. For now, here’s an observation skills game that naturalists of all ages can play on your next visit to the Garden in winter.

I Spy: Winter Edition

Put an X by what you see

  • Squirrel nest
  • Bird nest
  • Animal tracks in the snow
  • Cardinal
  • Tufted titmouse
  • Ring-billed gull
  • Snow goose
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Deer
  • Red fox
  • Icicle
  • Snowflake
  • Leucistic (mostly white) squirrel
  • Red squirrel

(HINT: You may find many of the birds on this list at the Nature Center bird feeders, so be sure to stop by.)

Why Be a Member?

“The garden provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of life. As I hike through the woods, my energy is restored, my mind is cleared, and I feel at peace. Lincoln Memorial Garden is a hidden treasure that I love to share with family, friends and especially school aged children. I look forward to leading nature hikes there again once the pandemic passes.”

Laura Gundrum, LMG docent


Why Be a Member?

We’re asking members of Lincoln Memorial Garden (LMG) why they value their membership whether as an individual ($40), family ($75), senior ($30) or other level. In addition to getting some exclusive member benefits—including discounts and reciprocal privileges to 330+ botanical gardens across the country—the membership financial support truly makes the Garden what it is today. The Garden receives no taxpayer funding to maintain its 100 acres, the mulched trails, bridges and buildings. Memberships and donations sustain the grounds, environmental programming, and special events.

Already a member? Thank you! And consider the giving the a very unique gift to your friends and family this year – the yearlong gift of a Lincoln Memorial Garden membership. Learn more:

Tell us why you’re a member! We’d love to share your story to encourage more to join. Send a message via the Garden Facebook ( or write to

Vote for People’s Choice by Nov. 10

Vote for People’s Choice Winner by Nov. 10


More than 400 entries were received for the 2020 Images of Lincoln Memorial Garden Photo Contest. Thank you to all who participated! A panel of professional photographers judged the entries in the Youth (age 15 and younger) and Adult (16+) in four categories: Celebrating Life in the Garden, Landscape, Wildflowers, and Living Creatures.


Please vote for your favorite for the People’s Choice prize from the eight winning entries below.


Get your vote in by Nov. 10!

Winning entries will be announced on Facebook starting Nov. 12.

Follow us:

Why I’m a Member

“A big reason for families to join is the programming and education. It is just outstanding. The camps, the junior naturalist programs, Audra [staff environmental educator]. I wouldn’t be surprised if our daughter Lucy will be a naturalist for her career! We all love the Garden.”


  • Megan DeFrain with husband Chad, daughters Lucy and Pheobe

We’re asking members of Lincoln Memorial Garden (LMG) why they value their membership, whether as an individual ($40), family ($75), senior ($30) or other level. We’d love to share your story to encourage more to join. Send a message via Facebook or write to

In addition to exclusive member benefits—including discounts and reciprocal privileges to 330+ botanical gardens across the country—membership truly makes the Garden what it is today. The Garden receives no taxpayer funding to maintain its 100 acres, the mulched trails, bridges and buildings. Memberships and donations sustain the grounds, environmental programming and special events.

Already a member? THANK YOU!

Please consider giving a very unique gift to your friends and family this year—the yearlong gift of a Lincoln Memorial Garden membership. Learn more:


Cawley Meadow Turns 20

by Ann Londrigan


It was 2008 when Lincoln Memorial Garden held the Indian Summer Festival in the Cawley Meadow for the first time. Before then, this long-running and very popular family festival was held in what’s known as the “Historic Garden.” The original 60-acre parcel was secured by civic leader Harriet Knudson in the mid-1930s as the city was creating Lake Springfield, and its blueprint was designed by celebrated “Prairie Style” landscape architect Jens Jensen in 1936. It entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

Taking the Festival out of the woods and across the street was a bold but necessary move.

According to Jim Mathies, retired executive director of the Garden, the six-acre “Cawley Meadow” parcel had been given to the Garden in 2000 by Joyce Cawley following the passing of her husband Fred. Eight years later, after some major cleanup and planting the landscape, it was still mostly a large open space with little shade. And it was distinctly different from the tucked-in vendor booths along the Historic Garden paths with children’s activities spread out in the woodland openings. Who remembers turtle races in Council Ring 3?

“It was controversial,” says Joyce Munie, who served as secretary of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation Board, along with president and 2008 Festival Chair Carol Herndon.

“We did surveys and exit polls,” she recalls. “We asked, ‘What did you like about the Festival?’ And many said ‘We hate it over there!’”

The bottom line was that the Historic Garden needed protection. In their October 31 letter to the editor in The State Journal-Register, 2009 Festival Co-chairs Munie and longtime volunteer Chris Davis wrote:

Lincoln Memorial Garden’s foundation is a nonprofit organization charged by the Garden Clubs of Illinois to protect and maintain the garden. The garden was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was designed by Jens Jensen, one of the foremost landscape architects of the early 20th century. We moved the festival across the street last year because we could no longer ignore the impact that the footsteps of 4,000 people caused to the trees and other plants within it. We thank all those people who joined us again this year at the festival and all our new visitors who discovered the garden for the first time. Without your generous support we could not continue the work of the foundation.

Today, Festival-goers love the Cawley Meadow space. The trees along the edges have matured to offer more shade, and each year more benches are added for seating areas. A bandshell was created as an Eagle Scout project with funding from Sutton’s roofing and siding company. Thanks to an army of loyal and hard-working volunteers, new activities—such as “Build a Scarecrow,” the Tree Troll Trail and the beloved Fairy Woodlands—“magically” appear each year.

“It truly looks like what a festival area should look like,” says Munie, who has continued to volunteer along with Davis after their three-year stint as event co-chairs from 2009 to 2011.

So, what did it look like 20 years ago? Mathies and Garden staff, including Larry Miller, along with many volunteers, inventoried the newly acquired property. Here’s a partial list of what they found, which triggered a professional review by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  • A large step van truck
  • Three old farm tractors, a plow, disc and harrow
  • Two 20-cubic-foot dumpsters full of metal including barbed wire, rebar and 55-gallon drums all weighing 30,240 pounds
  • 100 tires
  • 12 appliances
  • Contents of a shed filling six 20-cubic-foot dumpsters and including glass, plastic, hardware, old bikes and unlabeled containers of grease, herbicide, oil, paint and insecticide


According to the EPA final report, “A crew of four Garden staff took about five weeks to clean up the area. This included dragging items out of the woods with tractors, tearing down the shed and mowing fields to find items hidden by the vegetation.”

It was a herculean effort for several years.

“From an EPA perspective, there was non-point source pollution with rain and snow and the different pollutants,” says Davis, a 30-year professional with the Illinois EPA and currently manager of the Watershed Management Section. “When we worked on the project identifying all the stuff on the site, it dawned on everyone that it was less than a quarter mile to the lake and chances [were] it would deliver pollutants through the Garden to the lake.”

So, much like the Ostermeier Prairie Center, the maintenance of the Cawley property is a stewardship measure.

Says Joel Horwedel, executive director of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation: “Adding Cawley Meadow to the Garden’s holdings has allowed us the opportunity to develop a dedicated area for our annual fall festival and this important additional buffer to the Historic Garden.”


Chris Davis (left) with Joyce Munie, longtime Garden volunteers working the front gate at the 2019 fall festival






Cathy Slater, president of the Lincoln Memorial Garden Foundation, and past president and festival chair Tom Wilkin, look over the pristine Cawley Meadow grounds in the early morning hours before the start of the 2019 fall festival






The well-established half-acre wetland in 2019, first created through the work from January 14, 2002, to January 31, 2004, by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Lincoln Memorial Garden volunteers, under the U.S. EPA’s Source Water Pollution Control Program and the Federal Clean Water Act




Save the date for fall festival 2021! As COVID-19 makes holding events safely nearly impossible, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our annual fall festival this year. We are offering Fall Harvest Festival at-home craft kits for sale online for $10 each including some of our favorite festival activities including Build a Scarecrow, Tree Troll, Pumpkin Painting, Fall String Art, and Fall Wood Cookie Décor. Get details and shop online here: