Public Botanic Gardens & Arboreta Near Chicago

Chicago's official motto is Urbs in horto (meaning "City in a Garden"). Here are some of the best places to see gardens in and around the city!

Garden City State Acres Miles
Ladd Arboretum Evanston IL 23 3.9
Chicago Botanic Garden Glencoe IL 385 3.9
Lincoln Park Conservatory Chicago IL 3 13.7
Lincoln Park Zoo Chicago IL 35 13.9
Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago IL 5 15.3
Lurie Gardens Chicago IL 5 16.7
Morton Arboretum Lisle IL 1700 26.4
Cantigny Gardens Wheaton IL 29 27.8
The Gardens at Ball West Chicago IL 6 29.6
International Friendship Gardens Michigan City IN 100 51.7
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens Valparaiso IN 360 54.9
Boerner Botanical Garden Milwaukee WI 1000 59.2
Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve Niles MI 105 73.6
Rotary Botanical Gardens Janesville WI 20 75.5
Wellfield Botanic Gardens Elkhart IN 36 94.7
Madison Olbrich Botanic Garden Madison WI 16 105.9
University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum Madison WI 35 107.6
Purdue Arboretum West Lafayette IN 24 123.5
Frederik Meijer Garden & Sculpture Park Grand Rapids MI 158 124.8
Fell Arboretum at Illinois State University Normal IL 490 127.9
Bickelhaupt Arboretum Davenport IA 14 128.8
Illinois Wesleyan University Arboretum Bloomington IL 80 129.2
Leila Arboretum Battle Creek MI 72 129.9
Luthy Memorial Botanical Garden Peoria IL 5 135.2
Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden Mahomet IL 5 136.8
University of Illinois Arboretum Urbana IL 160 141.3
Vander Veer Botanical Park Davenport IA 33 151.2
Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Dubuque IA 52 154.9
Slayton Arboretum Hillsdale MI 14 159.6
Green Bay Botanical Garden Green Bay WI 47 168.3
W. J. Beal Botanical Garden East Lansing MI 5 171.2
Christy Woods Muncie IN 18 178.6
White River Gardens Indianapolis IN 3 180.9
Springfield Washington Park Botanical Garden Springfield IL 20 189.6
Dow Gardens Midland MI 110 205.0
Nichols Arboretum Ann Arbor MI 123 205.4
Matthaei Botanical Gardens Ann Arbor MI 300 208.7
Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park Traverse City MI 25 210.2
Hilltop Gardens at Indiana University Bloomington IN 5 212.6
Hayes Arboretum Richmond IN 355 217.3
For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum Burton MI 383 219.3
Schedel Arboretum & Gardens Elmore OH 17 232.2
Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens Waterloo IA 35 235.4
University of Northern Iowa Botanical Center Cedar Falls IA 243.1
Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark Dayton OH 243.3
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory Detroit MI 243.4
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Cincinnati OH 85 265.5
Boone County Arboretum Union KY 121 268.5
Missouri Botanical Garden St. Louis MO 75 275.4
Schoepfle Garden Birmingham OH 70 282.7

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Field-Grown vs. Greenhouse-Grown Plants

Plants which are well-adapted to our local climate are most often field-grown (outside). Field-grown plants are generally cheaper and have the advantage of already somewhat acclimated to our cold winters, but that means they’re not artificially far along in the spring and tend to bloom at the normal time in our area.

Spring annuals and tender perennials are typically grown in Greenhouses so they can be ready and luxurious exactly when customers want them. Some perennials are also “forced” into early bloom in greenhouses. In May, there can be a very big difference between field-grown and greenhouse-grown plants of the same type. The latter typically look good right away (so they’re a great choice where that’s important), but we typically pay a premium for it.

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