The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois was established on December 14th, 1922, by Joy Morton. The Morton family was the owners of the Morton Salt Company and Joy's father Julius Sterling Morton was the founder of Arbor Day. The Joy Morton Thornhill Estate built in 1910, was part of the original basis of the Arboretum area.
The Arboretum covers 1,700 acres and is made up of various types of gardens with plants and trees from specific geographical areas. There is an area of restored Illinois prairie and over 4,000 different species of plants and trees and over 185,000 cataloged plants from all around the world. The Arboretum has fourteen miles of hiking and biking trails and nine miles of roadway.
The Sterling Morton Library was designed by famous Chicago architect Harry Weese in 1963, and is set on the east side of the Morton Arboretum. The building was constructed in honor of Sterling and Joy Morton and houses the many resource materials of the Arboretum. The library has over 25,000 volumes of books and magazines, as well as thousands of non-book items relating to plants and trees.
The Arboretum has a "Children's Garden'', which is a four acre interactive garden and a one acre "Maze Garden''. Other areas of interest include the Fragrance Garden, Hedge Garden and a Ground Cover Garden. The Arboretum also features the Schulenberg Prairie, which is one of the largest restored prairie areas in the Midwest. The facility offers year-round educational programs for both children and adults in the areas of Horticulture, Botanical Artwork, Ornithology, Natural History and Nature Photography.
The Visitor Center is the starting point for any visit to the Arboretum. There is an inviting staff employed to answer questions, address concerns and show visitors around the grounds of the Arboretum. The Visitor Center provides pamphlets, tickets, guide books, binoculars, membership and entertainment information. On the east side of the Arboretum, guests will find an Information Desk, The Arboretum Store, a restaurant, cafy, an orientation hall, plant clinic and an events room.
The gardens portion of the Arboretum are located on the east and west sides. Each one is carefully manicured and contains a distinct theme or purpose. The gardens are in many different shapes, sizes and colors. The staff encourages visitors to get up close and experience the wonders of the gardens. The tree collections include oaks, pines, maples and elms; in total the tree collection includes more than 14,000 different types of trees, shrubs, bushes and other plants.
The Arboretums mission is to both educate and inform people and children about the wonders of nature. The displays are set up to allow guests to be entertained, educated and to encourage them to participate in the preservation of nature. Through the gardens, plant and tree collections, visitors are able to gain a better appreciation for the diversity, wonder and beauty of nature.