Garden History

English Walled Garden opened English Walled Garden Opened

Designed by John Brookes, the English Walled Garden contains six “rooms” that demonstrate traditional English gardening styles: Vista Garden, Cottage Garden, Pergola Garden, Daisy Garden, Courtyard Garden, and Checkerboard Garden.

Gravel Hill construction Three Prairie Demonstration Gardens Constructed

This area was dedicated as the Suzanne S. Dixon Prairie in 1993, featuring plants that thrive in fen, gravel hill, and sand environments. 

First Plant Evaluation Notes First Plant Evaluation Notes Published

The journal, published by the Garden’s research team, shared plant evaluation research with the horticultural industry.

Gateway to the Garden Campaign

This campaign helped fund the Gateway Center (now Visitor Center), the English Walled Garden, and the Plant Resource Center.

Gateway Center construction Gateway Center Opened

Visitors were welcomed to the Garden in this new facility with a Garden Café and Garden Shop. Currently, the building is called The Visitor Center.

abies sibirica Garden Collection Surpassed One Million Plants

The plant census topped the million mark with 1,127,757 plants! The 1 millionth plant was Abies sibirica, collected by staff members Galen Gates and Richard Hawke in Central Siberia in 1993.

Turnbull Woods Garden Acquired Turnbull Woods

Cook County Forest Preserve District transfered management of 85 acres of Turnbull Woods to the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the Garden’s scientists became responsible for its restoration.

Skokie River restoration Restoration of Skokie River Began

In partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, the Garden undertook the restoration of land along the Skokie River.  As a demonstration of stream bank restoration, five wetland areas were created with more than 69,000 plants.

Learning Garden for the Disabled construction Learning Garden for the Disabled Redesigned

First called the Garden for the Handicapped and later named The Buehler Enabling Garden, this area was redesigned to include colorful raised beds, dramatic container gardens, adaptive tool displays, and model exhibits illustrating gardening techniques that can be used to make gardening accessible to everyone.

College First student College First Program Launched

This eight-week, paid, summer internship program began to reach 20 Chicago Public School students per year.  Participants continue to receive career mentorship, field ecology and conservation science experience, and college preparation.

Collections trip to Russia Collections 2000 Launched

The first of a series of plant-collecting trips began.

Century Plant flowers Agave Americana Bloomed

A century plant, Agave americana, attracted attention as it flowered for the first time in 30 years. Chicago Botanic Garden staff removed a glass panel of the Arid Greenhouse’s roof, enabling the plant to grow and bloom.

Barbara Whitney Carr New Leaders Appointed

Barbara Whitney Carr became the Garden’s fourth CEO and Chicago Horticultural Society President. Kris Jarantoski became Director. Thomas J. Nissly became Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer.

Rice Plant Resource Center The Rice Foundation Plant Resource Center Dedicated

The building with office space for horticulture staff along with laboratory and research space for science staff was designed by Moretta & Sheehy. 

McGinley Pavilion McGinley Pavilion Dedicated

The new facility created space for public activities and private events.

McDonald Woods Mary Mix McDonald Woods Dedicated

The entire 100-acre woodland was dedicated as Mary Mix McDonald Woods.

Circle Garden Opens Waud Circle Garden Opened

Named for its circular boundary, the garden opened with a fountain and two “secret” gardens to each side. Unusual combinations of annuals changed each season.

English Oak Meadow English Oak Meadow Opened

The Betty Brown Meadow, a hillside of blooming bulbs, flowers, and shrubs set amid a variety of oak trees, opened to the east of the English Walled Garden.


The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden The School of the Chicago Botanic Garden Opened

The School opened with an array of adult education classes and training for amateur and professional gardeners. It is currently called the Joseph Regenstein, Jr. School of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden The Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden Renovated

The display was transformed into a learning center, complete with public demonstrations and activities.