Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL is a joy to behold! Located approximately 30 miles west of Chicago, Cantigny has a rich history and offers 30 acres of spectacular gardens that change every season.
In addition to the ever-expanding gardens, worth checking out are the self-guided tour of the McCormick House and the newly refreshed First Division Museum. Children will enjoy climbing on the many tanks on display.
The Colonel’s Gift
Cantigny was the home of Colonel Robert R. McCormick (1880 – 1955) who was a lawyer, Chicago alderman, distinguished U.S. Army officer in World War I, and eventually owner and publisher of the Chicago Tribune.
As commander of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Field Artillery, McCormick led the unit in providing crucial artillery support to First Division troops in their capture of the German held village of Cantigny. The first American victory of World War I, the Battle of Cantigny, so impressed McCormick that he changed his estate’s name of “Red Oaks” to “Cantigny”. (pronounced can-tee-nee … the word is French and the ‘g’ is silent)
In 1911 he was elected President of the Tribune Company and devoted the next 44 years to publishing and editing the Chicago Tribune.
He created an important media empire, the Tribune Company, which grew from a single newspaper to a media giant including WGN radio and tv stations.
McCormick gave generously to many charitable organizations. Chicago-area museums, universities, hospitals, youth organizations, and animal rescue groups regularly received funding from him. Today, his philanthropic spirit continues through the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
“Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Display Gardens galore …
Where to start? The gardens at Cantigny are absolutely beautiful! There is something amazing to see around every corner …
The various sections are very creatively and cleverly planned. I always garner ideas with their color and plant combinations. Step outside your comfort zone and try new varieties of flowers and foliage plants, then mix perennials with annuals for a breathtaking long-blooming display …
One of my favorite display gardens at Cantigny is the Idea Garden. A joyous area with a riot of hues and a touch of whimsy. In recent years they’ve featured a sensory garden with interesting plants you can touch and/or smell.
Another area is fittingly called the white garden. The garden features a myriad of white flowering plants in a formal setting with boxwood and taxus hedges.
This interesting and cheerful mix of coneflowers, snapdragons and gaillardias together really caught my eye! I’m a big fan of orange, coral, yellow, and purple flowers.
There’s unexpected pops of color everywhere from garden beds, hanging baskets and interesting container combinations.
Cantigny’s rose garden is one of my all-time favorites! A fabulous collection of both traditional roses and newer varieties … it never disappoints. I love that each type of rose is labelled so you know what you are looking at. Each cultivar is mass planted for an eye-catching display of gorgeous color.
One of the first things longtime Cantigny Park visitors might notice is that the rose garden has been relocated to be near the Visitors Center. The space includes a trellis gazebo for wedding ceremonies, a small lawn, and a surrounding 7-foot privacy hedge of Japanese yew.
Project New Leaf
At this writing, Cantigny Park is undergoing a multi-year revitalization project. Project New Leaf began in late 2016 and will take place in phases over five years. The project will enhance almost every area of Cantigny Park, allowing current and future generations to enjoy the beauty and attractions of the 500-acre estate.
As Project New Leaf opens up the landscape, finding your way around the park will be easier, especially on paths that improve wheelchair and stroller accessibility.
Here’s the scoop …
The mission of Cantigny Gardens in Wheaton IL is to promote the beauty, enjoyment and education of horticulture and to protect our natural environment.
For more info on planning a visit to Cantigny go to their website for program information, parking and navigating, and updates on the renovation project.
In conclusion, Cantigny Park as a whole offers something for everyone: garden enthusiasts, World War I historians, hikers, music lovers, and nature aficionados.
We hope you found this post about Cantigny Gardens interesting and helpful! Let us know your thoughts and what you like most about Cantigny Park by visiting our contact page …