Chicago Botanic Garden



United States

Chicago Botanic Garden

This 385-acre botanical garden located north of Chicago began on 300 acres of forested land donated to the Chicago Horticultural Society in 1963. John Ormsbee Simonds and Geoffrey Rausch created the garden’s master plan, which comprises nine islands with 24 display gardens and four natural habitats. Construction began in 1965 and the garden was opened to the public in 1972. In 1977 the Education Center, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes, was built to help meet the society’s mission of focusing on collections, education, and research. Natural habitats include the 100-acre McDonald Woods; Dixon Prairie, with six prairie eco-systems in 15 acres; Skokie River Corridor which flows through the property; and a Lakes and Shores area. Other expansions include the Malott Japanese Garden, Sansho-En, built in 1982, and the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center completed in 2009. James van Sweden designed 5-acre Evening Island in 1999, creating a New American Garden with plants inspired by Prairie style landscapes and by Helen Frankenthaler’s painting Nature Abhors a Vacuum. The Esplanade and Crescent, formal landscapes conceived by Dan Kiley, were installed posthumously. The Chicago Botanic Garden is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County but is managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society, which was founded in 1890.

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