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by Jessica Waytenick •

Contact – Jessica Waytenick, 800-747-7800, ext. 827 or jwaytenick@visitquadcities.com

Quad Cities – Beautiful gardens, green space, and tall, shady trees are a natural part of the Quad Cities’ many parks and neighborhoods, so it only seems natural that people who love flowers, gardens, and parks are attracted to the area. Take a walk through the botanical centers and conservatories, learn about plants, and take in all the lovely colors the Quad Cities has to offer.

Located on the Mississippi River in the Midwest, the Quad Cities is comprised of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Illinois; and surrounding communities. It is within a day’s drive of several metropolitan areas such as Chicago, St. Louis, Des Moines, and Minneapolis; and the Quad City International Airport offers over 70 flights daily to eight non-stop destinations on five major airlines.

The Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island, IL, has an impressive Sun Garden and outdoor garden. Impressive with its 70-feet tall skylight peak, the Botanical Center’s 6,444 square foot “Sun Garden” conservatory offers a breathtaking tropical paradise. The Sun Garden conservatory connects to the outside gardens, which offer gorgeous seasonal landscapes. Rare and unusual conifers, prairie flowers and plants, ornamental grasses, colorful annuals and unique perennials surround a brick patio and pond.

Since the establishment of Vander Veer Park in 1885, horticultural activities have been a tradition at this beautiful 33-acre park in Davenport, Iowa. Gardens with annual and perennial beds invite park visitors to stroll from the conservatory, through the formal Rose Garden, along the Grand Allée, and to the stone fountain at the south end of the park that is lit at night. The Conservatory is famous for its numerous floral shows and tropical plants, a tradition of over 100 years. Continuous displays are presented year round, including the Fall Chrysanthemum Show, the Poinsettia and Lights display, the Winter Azalea Show, the Spring Floral Show, and the Lily Show.

Deere-Wiman House and Butterworth Center are two majestic mansions in Moline, IL, that were built in the late 1800s by Charles Deere, son of John Deere. The Butterworths created extensive and lush gardens on the three acres that surrounded their home. The seven acres surrounding the Deere-Wiman house features rolling lawns, brick walkways, and formal gardens with countless varieties of flowers and plants. Both families enjoyed the flowers and trees not commonly found in the Midwest. On the grounds you will find a tricolor beech, cucumber magnolia, and a bald cypress. The houses are located within a block of each other.

Explore each decade of the past 100 years through flowers. The Centennial Garden is located on the east side of Middle Park in Bettendorf, IA. The garden is in the shape of a large flower, and each petal of the flower consists of ten separate decade gardens that contain plants that were popular in each decade.

Beginning in early April, flower enthusiasts can see narcissi, daffodils, crocus, and young blooming lilacs at the Stampe Lilac Garden in Duck Creek Park in Davenport, IA. In mid-April, hyacinths, tulips and crab apples will begin to bloom. Enjoy the colors and fragrances of 30,000 spring bulb blooms.

The roughly 40-by-24-foot garden at the Colonel Davenport House on Arsenal Island is a lovely garden filled with blooming plants that are either native to the Midwest or cultured varieties that were available in Davenport's time in the mid-1800s. Four individual beds are outlined in rock, and there is an arbor made of Osage orange that provides a pleasing frame and focal point.

Muscatine, IA, is a 30-minute drive from the metro Quad Cities and features several garden highlights that make a nice daytrip while staying in the Quad Cities. Weed Park Rose Garden is a memorial rose garden is accredited by the All America Rose Selections organization, and a new commemorative zoo garden has been added with a rugged trail and other animal-themed gardens. At the Muscatine Art Center, a Japanese Garden brings a touch of the orient to this outstanding former home and features a Torii Gate, footbridges, stone pagodas, and a wooden house shrine. The Monsanto research facility boasts a certified one-acre butterfly garden.

Along with cultivated gardens, the Quad Cities boasts several unique natural sites to view the flora and fauna.

Nahant Marsh in Davenport, Iowa, is one of the last urban wetlands of its size on the upper Mississippi River. Encompassing about 500 acres of high quality wetland offering amazing bird watching opportunities, and a look at the past when primordial wetlands dotted the river landscape. Nearly 400 birds, plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians reside in the area! Take the boardwalk through the marsh, and marvel at this wild habitat.

The Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, IL, was first occupied by Native Americans as long as 12,000 years ago, and still remains as one of the least-disturbed forests in Illinois. This naturally wooded area also provides habitat for a variety of wildlife. Nearly 175 species of birds can be observed during the year including bald eagles during the winter months, and over 30 species of wildflowers.

It took seven years for the City of Rock Island to transform Sylvan Slough—a blighted industrial property on the Mississippi River—into a unique demonstration area. The five-acre Natural Area incorporates native plantings, bioswails, permeable paving and other initiatives designed to educate the public about reduction of storm water runoff. Buildings were surgically deconstructed to form the architectural features of the natural area and to reincorporate salvaged material into the landscape. Materials suitable for reuse onsite were separated from materials hauled to a landfill. Brick was ground up and used as permeable paths, and precast panels were removed intact to be used as risers and walkways. Instead of hauling contaminated soils to a hazardous waste landfill, soils were treated on-site through bioremediation and reincorporated into the property.

Nature thrives in the Midwest andthe Quad Cities region is no exception. From the Mississippi River and itstributaries, to their floodplain wetlands and backwaters, to the wooded bluffsand upland plains, more than 16,000 acres of publicly accessible natural areaslie within an hour’s drive of the Quad Cities metro area.  Browse www.qcwildplaces.com in order to find your next outdooractivity spot.

Eco-tourism and nature-basedrecreation is flourishing. The International Ecotourism Society definesecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves theenvironment and improves the welfare of local people.”

The Quad Cities is also known for its abundance of special events, festivals, attractions, museums, biking/hiking trails, riverboats, shopping, performances, professional sports teams, restaurants, and, of course, the Mississippi River.

For information on the Quad Cities area, call the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at
800-747-7800 or visit their website at www.visitquadcities.com.

When You Go
Quad City Botanical Center
2525 4th Ave., Rock Island, IL
309-794-0991
www.qcgardens.com

Vander Veer Park
214 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport, IA
563-323-3298
www.cityofdavenportiowa.com

Deere-Wiman House/Butterworth Center
1105 8th St., Moline, IL
309-743-2701
www.butterworthcenter.com

Centennial Garden
Middle Park, 2407 Middle Rd., Bettendorf, IA
563-344-4115
www.bettendorf.org

Stampe Lilac Garden
Duck Creek Park, 3300 E. Locust St., Davenport, IA
563-326-7812
www.cityofdavenportiowa.com

Colonel Davenport House
North shore on Hillman St. on Arsenal Island
309-786-7336
www.davenporthouse.org

Muscatine Convention & Visitors Bureau
563-263-8895
www.meetmuscatine.com  

Nahant Marsh
4220 Wapello Ave., Davenport, IA
563-323-5196
www.nahantmarsh.org

Black Hawk State Historic Site
1510 46th Avenue, Rock Island, IL
309-788-9536
www.blackhawkpark.org

Sylvan Slough Natural Area
4400 3rd Ave., Rock Island, IL
309-732-2055
www.rigov.org

 

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