About the Gardens
The gardens of Cantigny Park offer beauty and tranquility for all to enjoy. Experience them at your own pace, and be sure to return throughout the seasons – our display gardens receive new plant material every spring, summer and fall. Cantigny’s horticulture team is known for creativity, so expect a few surprises, too!
ADA-compliant pathways are wheelchair and stroller friendly, and ramps facilitate movement between upper and lower levels. Pathways have been further enhanced by a new drainage system, brick edging (replacing metal edging), and stone dust pavement (replacing pebble pavement).
The gardens also feature more seating options, including a circular bench around a large and centrally located Bur Oak. Additional shade will develop when climbers such as nonfruiting grapevines, Clematis and Rose engulf the series of arching steel trellises.
Explore Cantigny's Gardens
Explore Cantigny Park!
Find out about our Horticulture programs and classes!
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. Guests are encouraged to visit the gardens throughout the year to witness the ever-changing beauty of its seasonal glory.
Nearly all of the annual plants in the Cantigny gardens originate on site. In fact, close to a quarter-million plants are produced in the Cantigny greenhouse each year — up to 1,000 botanical varieties! These herbaceous plants add color and diversity throughout the park, golf course, and building interiors.
The main 18,500-square-foot main greenhouse, opened in 1987, allows year-round plant production. Cantigny garden spaces are replanted every spring, summer and fall with home-grown annuals, providing fresh visual experiences for visitors. The greenhouse also accommodates Cantigny’s holiday poinsettia crop, transforming the space to a sea of red, pink, and white in late fall.
Because it is a functional workplace production area, and for safety, the greenhouse is not open to the public.