The Chicago Botanic Garden has the largest collection of in the world and is one of the most visited public gardens in the United States. The Chicago Horticulture Society was founded in 1890, and was formed to recognize the flower and horticulture shows and support and improve the parks in the city of Chicago. After a period of inactivity, the Society was once again restarted in 1943. In 1963 the society was granted 300 acres of forest land on the outside of the city, it was then the Chicago Botanic Garden was born.
Groundbreaking of the Garden was in 1965, and the doors were opened in 1972. Since that time, the mission of the garden has been focused on three factors; education, collections and research. From its very inception, the Garden has employed leading landscape architects such as John O. Simonds and Geoffrey Rausch.
The Garden has since been expanded to cover 385 acres and has 23 display gardens and 3 native habitats. The garden has been designed so that no matter what season it may be, there is always something blooming. There are waterways, ponds, special events, exhibits and tram tours for visitors who want to view the gardens in comfort.
In the Aquatic Garden, guests can view water lilies, lotus flowers and over the hill is the Bulb Garden. In the Bulb Garden guests can view tulips, narcissus, ornamental onions and other flowering plants. In 2000, the city of Chicago unveiled a donation of 19 different bonsai trees received from master Japanese bonsai master, Susumu Nakamura. The gift boosted the Gardens collection of bonsai trees to over 185 in total, making it the most formidable public collections in the world.
The Circle Garden is a display garden that contains blooming annuals that are changed out with each season. Named for its circle shaped boundaries, this portion of the park contains a dancing fountain along with two private gardens off to the side. The Crescent was designed by architect Dan Kiley, which merges traditional with modern. There are bold displays of plants in the center of the garden and hundreds of evergreen boxwoods which are at various heights and tiers. Along the brick pathway, guests then venture into the Heritage Garden. The Heritage Gardens are designed in the traditional style of Italian botanical gardens and contains fourteen plant beds with flowers that are grouped according to their scientific classification. In the middle of the garden, there is a meditation fountain with medicinal plants from all over the world planted around it.
There are also several other gardens contained on the grounds such as the; Greenhouses, Lakeside Gardens, McDonald Woods, Native Plant Garden, a Rose and Sculpture Garden and several other areas to explore. The Botanic Garden also has a library, Adult Education Center, After School and Summer Camp programs, Pre-K to 8th grade plant education classes, a Community Gardening and Horticulture Therapy program as well. Guests are invited to tour and explore everything the park has to offer and experience the ever changing beauty of nature in its finest setting.