About the Gardens

“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Gardens at Cantigny beckon you. They tug at your senses, drawing you closer. If you listen carefully, each garden will tell you a story, unfolding with every step. You will feel your body relax as you absorb the landscape and the landscape devours your stress. The hustle of life melts away just a few steps into our 29 acres of flourishing, blooming tranquility. Come enjoy the pace of nature here in The Gardens at Cantigny.

History & Mission

The Legacy Continues

History

During the early 1930s, Colonel Robert R. McCormick’s estate held an experimental farm on site, which served as a working “laboratory” with the goal of serving the family farms that blanketed the countryside. The experimental farm tried new species of crop plants, tested theories of planting and harvesting, and investigated new practices in raising productive farm animals.  Other experimental farms existed across the nation and one of the most successful was Colonel McCormick’s at Cantigny.

To educate and share the accomplishments of experimental farms, McCormick’s Chicago Tribune ran a weekly column entitled “Day by Day Stories of the Experimental Farms.” These trusted reports helped shape the future of the Midwest as a leader in agriculture.

After McCormick’s death in 1955, the Board of Directors decided to change Cantigny’s focus from agriculture to horticulture by hiring famed landscape architect Franz Lipp to design and build a world-class garden. In 1967, Lipp began construction of this lush, horticultural masterpiece, which is one of the largest display gardens in the Midwest with more than 160,000 annuals, perennials, ground covers and flowering shrubs and trees. A majority of the plants seen throughout the gardens are estate-grown inside Cantigny’s renowned greenhouse. Guests are encouraged to visit the gardens throughout the year to witness the ever-changing beauty of its seasonal glory.

Mission

Cantigny Gardens’ mission is to promote the beauty, enjoyment and education of horticulture and to protect our natural environment.