The number one tourist attraction in Wheaton, Illinois according to Trip Advisor is Cantigny Park. And although I myself was a college student in Wheaton, and twenty some years later my daughter became a college student at Wheaton and later settled there, I had never been to Cantigny Park. Ashley and Jason (my daughter and son-in-law) had been there many times for banquets and performances but they never ventured into the park. The only part they ever saw was the building you see below, because that was where their events were held.
But now it was Memorial Day weekend, and we were looking for something patriotic to do. We attended the Wheaton Memorial Day parade in the morning (which was wonderful!) but needed something else to do to fill our day. So I went on Trip Advisor and googled "Things to do in Wheaton, Illinois" and Cantigny Park came up. It said they had a war museum and a tank park in addition to flower gardens. Perfect! What better thing to do on Memorial Day?
Unfortunately when we pulled up to the gate to pay our admission we were informed that both the war museum and tank park were closed for renovation. We were so disappointed. That's what my husband was looking forward to seeing the most...especially on Memorial Day! We almost turned our car around and left, but we decided to at least see the gardens, and I am so glad we did!
|Side View of The Robert R. McCormick Museum (mansion)
Cantigny Park is a 500 acre park that includes gardens, a 27-hole golf course, a picnic grove, playground (both areas closed as part of five year renovation project), hiking paths, two museums, a tank park, restaurants, and a gift shop. The park is the former estate of Joseph Medill and his grandson Colonel Robert R. McGormick , publishers of The Global Tribune.
We did not stop and spend any time at the visitor's center where I later found out there is a short movie you can watch to find out more about the history of the park. But I did talk to an employee who informed me that there are free tours of the Medill/McGormick mansion. She said tickets are on a first come/first serve basis and that we should hurry there first...so we did!
Before and after the mansion tour, we visited the gardens. It was late May in Illinois so the gardens were not in full bloom, but there was still plenty of color and interest.
Pictured below is the Rose Garden in the foreground and the Idea Garden in the background.
This trio of urns was in the center of the Rose Garden. They made the urns into a unique, attractive water feature. The Prairie Garden can be seen behind the water feature.
They had the hugest Allium flowers in the Cantigny Gardens. Mine only grow about half this size!
The Idea Garden is the place to get...what else? IDEAS for your own garden. I liked the height and interest this metal structure created in this small garden. I also liked the pergola in the background. I've always wanted a pergola in my yard!
Siberian Iris and Sage were in bloom when we were visiting.
Even though the roses weren't big or in full bloom yet, they still had a lot of beautiful flowers!
There was also a small pond garden in the Idea Garden.
A yellow flower was in bloom in the Prairie Garden when we were there. Isn't it gorgeous? I wish I could grow a prairie garden in my yard, but every time I try it just ends up getting filled with weeds! I love this! So low maintenance and so pretty!
This is the Octagon Garden. At the center of this eight sided garden is a Weeping Crab Apple. This garden changes with the seasons. Spring brings 7,500 spring bulbs, summer brings annuals, and in the fall mums and kale are the stars of the show!
Throughout the gardens were scattered these fun indoor/outdoor furniture pieces. Yes, they are meant to sit on! Their bright colors and fun shapes really added a lot of fun interest to the gardens. Behind the "couch" is the Dry land Garden.
There was a fun interactive fountain in the Formal Gardens that the kids loved to play in. The Visitor's Center can be seen in the background.
My favorite gardens were the shady paths. I enjoyed the solitude and the shelter from the sun. It also reminded me of my own woodland garden back home. These gardens were filled with a variety of shade loving plants and bushes and a large assortment of trees.
There were always plenty of places to sit and relax throughout the gardens. And thank goodness, cause there was a lot to see so it felt good to sit and rest awhile!
We discovered this horse topiary in front of the mansion. I had my son stand next to it to give you an idea of the scale. Isn't it amazing?
This is the view outside of the mansion. It's located on the side of the mansion, and you walk down this massive series of stairs to reach it (pictured in second picture above).
Have a Great Day! Amy
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