Welcome to Linmar Gardensone of Galena's best-kept secrets overlooking beautiful historic downtown.

We will open for the 2017 garden tours on Saturday, May 27th. We look forward to your visit!

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Perched atop a rocky limestone bluff overlooking historic Galena, IL, is the city's best kept secret: an oasis known as Linmar Gardens.  Now a 3-1/2 acre wooded wonderland the site had been mined for lead, quarried for stone, and used as a garbage dump until it was purchased by Harold Martin.

Trained at the Chicago Art Institute, Hal left a career in advertising to pursue painting.   He fell in love with Galena and purchased the property in 1976 as a weekend retreat.  Hal's soul was stirred whenever he visited the property.   Eight years later he made Linmar his permanent residence, settling into the stately 1853 brick home and the neglected surroundings.

After several years of attention to the residence Hal turned his artist's eye to the surrounding property.  He had nothing in mind, no grand plan.  "I started at the back door and it just took off from there," states Hal.  "It was simply extending the beautification from the house.  The places I planted looked so much better than the bare areas around them that I just kept going and going."

Hal began by cleaning up the land and carting out debris.   Tons of soil and rock were trucked in to build the pathways, walls, raised garden beds and other areas.  He had friends help out with projects and consulted various landscapers and nurseries about plants that could thrive in the difficult Zone 4 climate.   The "garbage dump" was turning into a masterpiece with waterfalls, meadows, paths, and other surprises.

The Four Seasons Garden has statues standing guard over symbolic garden plots.  Peek around a corner and you might see the twenty-foot waterfall coming off of a natural bluff, the water making its own "music" on the rocks below.  Unique sculptures are located in many locations throughout the garden, blending beautifully with the various trees, bushes, and flowers around them.   All of the pieces of sculpture are composed of recycled materials and are the work of local artist John Martinson.

The centerpiece of Linmar Gardens is the Sunken Garden.  It is the foundation of an African-American Baptist Church, one of the oldest African-American churches in Illinois.   The walls of the basement remain and there is a "Baptismal Font" in the center with a lovely fountain. Visitors are surrounded by a myriad of flowers and many find the Sunken Garden a lovely place to sit and reflect.

The heavily wooded property has plenty of interesting distractions: a faux lead mine complete with Galena ore, a bell tower from a Galena firehouse, and the aforementioned sculptures.

The Meadow, where we have many of our wedding ceremonies, has a lovely gazebo as a fantastic backdrop.   You will also find another small waterfall feature in the Meadow.

Linmar Gardens is open for private guided tours only (weather permitting) from mid-May through October.   Hal's partner Bob Burton is a wonderful tour guide with many stories, insights, and historical perspectives of the property.

"I believe that we have art so words aren't our only means to connect with one another," says Hal.

Connect, indeed, at beautiful Linmar Gardens.

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