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Chicago Area Gardens to Visit

If you’re looking for a wonderful way to spend a weekend morning or afternoon this spring, head to one of the many beautiful public gardens here in the Chicagoland area. Some are well-known, others are not. All are worth the drive.

Better Known Gardens:

Chicago Botanic Garden        

Millenium Park        

The Morton Arboretum        

Garfield Park Conservatory        

Lincoln Park Conservatory


Lesser known gardens worth visiting:

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Fullerton Pkwy. & Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614
A designated National Historic Landmark, this "hidden garden" in Lincoln Park was designed by noted landscape architect Alfred Caldwell (1902- 1998) in the prairie style.  It’s a peaceful oasis in the city that’s worth a visit when you plan a trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Jackson Park Perennial Garden and Osaka Japanese Gardens
59th Street and Stony Island Avenue, Chicago, IL
This elegant park, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, offers acres of parkland, reflecting pools, a perennial garden, and the Osaka Japanese.  Recommended by my daughter’s teacher, we visited the Osaka Japanese Gardens one spring Sunday afternoon.  Despite the need of a little TLC, this garden surprised us all with its beautiful details and borrowed views of the Science & Industry Museum.

Anderson Gardens
318 Spring Creek Road
Rockford, IL 61107
This formal 5-acre Japanese Garden features waterfalls, spring-fed ponds, tea house, gazebo and many quiet areas for contemplation.  Enhanced by lanterns, bridges, granite pagodas, water basins and gates, every path you take draws you into the calm of the Japanese aesthetic and further away from everyday life.  We’ve enjoyed this garden in every season and consider it well worth the trek to Rockford.

One South 151 Winfield Road
Wheaton, IL 60187-6097
The 500-acre estate of a former editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune is comprised of 29 acres and features 22 individual display gardens.  Showcasing the trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants that thrive in Midwest growing conditions, Cantigny is smaller than the Chicago Botanic Garden, but inspires the home gardener in much the same way.  Reminding me of the beauty that nature offers every day, Cantigny draws me in any time I am in the Western suburbs.

Bahai Temple
600 Sheridan Road
Wilmette, IL 60091
The oldest Baha'i House of Worship still standing has nine gardens radiating outward from the ornate domed building's nine sides.  Hedges demarcate each of the garden rooms and each is profusely planted with colorful flowers.  Uplifted describes how I feel when I visit this garden.  (If you ever take a trip to Israel, be sure to visit the Bahai Temple in Haifa.  The gardens and the views from the top of Mount Carmel are breathtaking!)

Reprinted from MODE Landscape Design Vol 7: Nothing Says Spring like Peonies, March 2012

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