Exploration Garden at Swansea Clinton Hills Park

HeartLands Conservancy is excited to celebrate the ribbon cutting of the 6-acre Exploration Garden at Swansea Clinton Hills Conservation Park held this summer, marking the completion of the first two phases.

We began transforming this former golf course into a public demonstration garden and outdoor classroom in 2020 in partnership with the Village of Swansea. When complete, the Exploration Garden will be a destination to experience native plants and pollinators and learn about different ecosystems and watersheds in our region.

Thank you to the community members and special guests who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, including Representative Jay Hoffman, St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook, Swansea Mayor Mike Leopold, Village of Swansea Staff Joe Iliff, America in Bloom Treasurer Marvin Miller, and members of the Swansea Rotary.

The Exploration Garden is a multi-phased project. Phase I began in 2020 and included the seeding of the wildflower meadow. The second phase included planting seven demonstration circles that demonstrate plants native to our region and good for pollinators, home landscaping, edible, great for shade, or great for wet or sandy areas. Each circle includes a sign that explains the plants and what people see in the circle.

Future phases will include a project-wide water feature called the Raindrop‘s Journey to demonstrate how native plants and other practices can help improve water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and soil health, as well as be beautiful and fun.

But wait, there‘s more! Future features will include a hardscape area in the meadow‘s center for seating and classes, a woodland garden, a bald cypress contemplation circle, interactive public art, and a stone beach. HeartLands Conservancy looks forward to completing these phases over the next few years.

We want to encourage you to take a moment to connect with nature and visit the garden. There is no admission, and it‘s just steps away from Fletcher‘s Kitchen and Tap.

A great place to enjoy and explore with your loved ones and discover all that southwestern Illinois has to offer when you visit the garden.

To date, all the funding for the Exploration Garden has been from private sources. HeartLands Conservancy would like to recognize the following funders of the Exploration Garden so far:

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

Canadian National Railroad & America In Bloom

American Water Charitable Foundation

Rotary Club of Swansea

Twin Lake Trucking

Clif Bar Family Foundation

Belle Clair Rotary Club

Fulford Homes

Junior Service Club of St. Clair County

Village of Swansea (in-kind)

and many individual contributors and volunteers!