Cantigny Park in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, IL, was the estate of Col. Robert McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune. Its 500--acre site is open to the public year round. It includes 30 acres of beautiful seasonal and perennial gardens, open space, two museums, picnic areas, and a golf course. The park hosts 400,000 visitors each year.
Creation of the Cantigny Park Hosta Garden began in 2011 when Lou Horton, then Northern Illinois Hosta Society (NIHS) president, approached the Cantigny horticultural staff with a proposal to create a hosta garden that might eventually become an American Hosta Society (AHS) National Hosta Display Garden. Cantigny Park and staff were happy to work with NIHS, and the following spring Cantigny and NIHS planted the initial 50 hostas, all donated by NIHS members. Two years later, the garden was relocated to a more desirable nearby site. Since then, NIHS has continued to receive plant donations from members as well as from Cantigny, commercial hosta growers and hybridiziers. NIHS has also purchased a number of desired cultivars.
At the end of the 2016 growing season, there were more than 200 hostas in the garden and an estimated 100 companion plants. By Spring 2018 the collection numbered 250 hostas and is expected to grow by another 50 varieties this year. On August 30, 2016, the American Hosta Society designated it an AHS National Hosta Display Garden, the 25th in the country and the one serving the largest metropolitan area of any of them.
The theme of the garden is to expand public knowledge of hostas, and to demonstrate through its displays how the many varieties can be used in gardens and landscapes. For example, the garden displays hostas as specimens and in clusters, borders, raised areas, among rocks, and (soon to come) in containers. Companion plants are used in the same way to enhance the collection.
Plaque displayed in Cantigny Park Hosta Garden, which was created jointly by NIHS and Cantigny.
Photos that show the development of the garden between October 2014 and August 2016.