Garden History

Celebrations Celebrations Debut

The Garden’s five-week holiday festival dating back to 1976 was renamed, Celebrations!.

A Rare Affair A Rare Affair Debut

The Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society hosted its first Rare Affair, a biennial rare plant auction.

Garden 2000 Campaign

A campaign helped grow the endowment of the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Harvest Ball Debut

The Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden hosted its first Harvest Ball fundraising gala with proceeds supporting Garden programs.

Puryear Sculpture Puryear Sculpture Donated

An untitled pair of breeches sculpture by Martin Puryear was given by Ernest P. Waud, III, and placed atop a hill south of the Japanese Garden.

First Guild Meeting
The first meeting of the Guild of the Chicago Botanic Garden was held on October 14, 1998.
Buehler Enabling Garden Opens Buehler Enabling Garden Opened

A new garden was dedicated to promoting accessible gardening for people of all abilities.

Bulb Bazaar The Bulb Bazaar Debut

The Woman’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society planned this sale of spring-blooming bulbs in time for fall planting.

Prized Bonsai Donated to Garden Prized Bonsai Donated to Garden

Japanese bonsai master Susumu Nakamura donated 19 prized specimens to the Garden.

Antiques & Garden Fair Debut

The event opened, offering the best in classical and contemporary garden furnishings, botanical art, and home and garden design from exhibitors from the United States and Europe.

Junior Railroad Construction Junior Railroad Exhibit Opened

Visitors watched miniature trains traverse 12 of America’s national parks. The exhibit now features nearly 50 familiar American landmarks and is called Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America.

Plants of Concern program Plants of Concern Inaugurated

This rare plant monitoring program was designed to allow citizen scientists to assess regional long-term trends in species. 

Shoreline Restoration Began Shoreline Restoration Began

Informed by a study revealing that 80 percent of the Garden’s lakeshores were experiencing moderate to severe erosion, an extensive shoreline restoration project was launched.

Blooming Campaign

The Blooming Campaign helped fund many gardens and buildings including Evening Island, Arch and Serpentine Bridges, and Spider Island.

Spider Island Spider Island Opened

Surrounded by birches, alders, and serviceberries, the island opened to reveal tranquil views of the lake and shoreline. The island was named after the donor’s wife who was nicknamed Spider. Through her love of all living things, it was said, she couldn’t even hurt a spider.

Botanic Garden Center Opens Botanic Garden Center Opened

The new facility created space for teaching and administrative operations. This building is now called the Barbara Whitney Carr Administrative Center.

Kris Jarantoski Executive Vice President Appointed

Kris Jarantoski was appointed Executive Vice President.

CLM Internship Program Launched

In partnership with the Federal Bureau of Land Management, the Garden launched the Conservation and Land Management Internship Program. The mentoring program was developed to train and employ graduates from various fields. Participants help land managers protect and preserve public lands.

Gardens of the Great Basin Gardens of the Great Basin Opened

Evening Island (formerly Evergreen Island), Lakeside Gardens, and Water Gardens opened. Together, they represent the largest horticultural development in the Chicago Botanic Garden’s history.

Native Plant Garden Naturalistic Garden Renovated

The updated garden housing woodland, prairie, bird and butterfly gardens, was renamed the Native Plant Garden.