As the cold winter weather eases, sugar maple trees begin the process of turning stored starch into sugar. Sap is made as this sugar combines with water in the ground. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup.
Tapping maple trees to make syrup is an age-old tradition in North America. You can experience it for yourself at the Garden’s annual Maple Syrup Time demonstrations set for weekends in mid-February and March (March 4-5 and March 11-12).
Demonstrations include seeing first-hand the “evaporation” process of boiling sap over a wood fire to produce syrup and of course, tasting the delicious syrup. The program is free and open to the public. Bring the kids, check the weather and dress accordingly.
Then make plans to attend Garden’s annual Pancake and Sausage Breakfast. Make reservations for this popular breakfast and silent auction fundraiser by calling the Nature Center at 529-1111. The breakfast is set for 8 a.m. to noon on the weekends of March 18-19 and March 25-26.
Many local businesses support this event. Pure maple “sirup” from family-owned Funks Grove in nearby Shirley and plates and napkins from MJ Kellner. Our major event sponsor is Bank of Springfield.
â€œThe creation and completion of the Accessible Trail and entryway go hand in hand with the Gardenâ€™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.â€
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 Jensenâ€™s signature stone council rings.
â€œThe 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,â€ says Neil Brumleve, Massie Massie & Associates. â€œAlong 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.â€
He adds: â€œI 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 Gardenâ€™s various trails or visit the Nature Center.â€
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 Millerâ€™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 Gardenâ€™s Nature Center, which can be reached via the Nature Centerâ€™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.
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
First Place: Gianna Johnson (girl on bench reading book)
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)
Sophia Fernandez (mushrooms)
Grace Lipe (dewy leaves)
Adira Nelson (view through splintered wood)
Leah Russell (leaf)
First Place: Cooper Appenzeller (mallard family on log)
Sophia Fernandez (butterfly on leaf)
Leah Russell (praying mantis)
Anders Schnell (spider)
First Place: Ella Krueger (closeup of yellow flower)
Ella Krueger (blazing star)
Adilene McCulloch (yellow flower)
Gwen Nelson (thistle flower)
Adult, 16 and over
First Place: Tammy Miller (boys at Cypress Beach)
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)
Allen Davis (Walgreen Bridge)
Michael Walwer (maple leaves)
Phillip Wheat (Cypress Beach)
First Place: Phillip Wheat (pelican)
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)
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
Animal tracks in the snow
Leucistic (mostly white) squirrel
(HINT: You may find many of the birds on this list at the Nature Center bird feeders, so be sure to stop by.)
“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: https://lincolnmemorialgarden.org/membership/