anderson resize“Basically, this is a backyard project that went out of control.” That’s how David Anderson humbly and humorously describes the award-winning Japanese gardens in Rockford, Illinois, started by his dad in 1978.

Less than an hour west of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, these glorious gardens are worthy of a visit. There’s plenty of room for kids to run about, while adults will find their moment of zen in a variety of secluded spaces.waterfall

Paths meander across bridges, past a koi pond, tea house and a variety of Japanese sculptures. A charming gift shop carries unique garden gifts and Japanese-themed items.statue

An army of volunteers and docents give guided tours on a regular basis. Their love and respect for this local treasure is apparent. Just make sure and visit Anderson Gardens between May 1 and October 31. It’s closed during the colder months.

Next year I might have to make the trip out in the spring, to see the cherry blossoms and irises blooming. Maybe I’ll get my ohm on at a yoga class in the gardens. Or maybe I’ll just find my path to enlightenment on a Tuesday evening, when they have live music in the gardens. Yep, as if your senses weren’t stimulated enough, there’s a summer concert series that runs from June through August. That’s what I call being in tune with nature!

Whether you’re a budding gardener, or a garden geek, there’s plenty to dig into at Rockford’s Anderson Japanese Gardens.


Disclosure: The author was provided free admission to Anderson Japanese Gardens for purposes of this review.