Destination Illinois: Learning about plants at the Quad Cities’ Botanical Center

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In Rock Island exists a special center that’s dedicated two decades to teaching visitors about plants. 

“We’re a botanical garden that’s been open for 20 years,” said Ryan Wille, the Botanical Center’s marketing manager. “We have many different gardens that are featured. We have something just about for every member of the family here.”

Wille is just one of many people that keep the Quad City Botanical Center up and running. What visitors see now is much different than what it was 20 years ago.

“We have a one-of-a-kind children’s garden. That’s five years old. We have an amazing railroad garden that’s run by a group of volunteers called the Heartland Central Railroad Club. It’s one of the best in the Midwest,” Wille said. “Our sun garden, really, is what people notice first when they walk in the door. It’s a tropical environment in here.”

Wille says the Botanical Center offers something of interest to every age group.

“We see everybody! We see local families from five blocks away, here in Rock Island. We see people coming from…just last week, we had a family from Germany in here. So, people traveling through here, for whatever reason, like to stop and spend a couple hours here with us. So, we see kids ranging from one to 99.

“Our mission is to bring people and plants together in fun and meaningful ways,” Wille continued. “And, we do that by submersing them here in environments like this, and whether they know they’re learning about plants or not, they are while they’re here.”

As summer comes to an end, this Illinois destination stays open. The center has several events for kids and adults that run year-round.

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