New shade evaluation display garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden (US)

The beauty and wonder of plants are integral to a living museum such as the Chicago Botanic Garden. A new plant production facility and display garden on the Kris Jarantoski Campus will ensure the Garden’s ability to maintain and even redefine horticultural excellence, support advanced plant conservation research, and expand its highly successful plant-based education programs. The campus is named in honor of Executive Vice President and Director Kris Jarantoski’s guiding vision.

The Wirtz-designed Shade Evaluation display garden – our first United States non-residential project – will feature a curvilinear scheme of strong, sculptural plantings. It will unite the entire south campus with a pedestrian pathway extending from the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Plant Conservation Science Center at the northern end of the Jarantoski Campus, through the new display garden, and returning to the main island.

The narrowness of the site, bisected by the dominant and very straight, functional road is visually undermined by a winding pattern of hedges and tunnel-like arbors of crabapples that form readable volumes, which constantly “jump” over the road. The paths will lead visitors through areas of bald cypress trees, high-spire dawn redwoods and European beech hedges, without revealing what lies beyond the next curve. The interpreted views into the nursery and greenhouses will allow guests to observe ‘behind the scenes’ in the plant production.

When completed the garden will form an interesting contrast to the brilliance of the Garden’s Dixon Prairie. The shade evaluation display garden will convert a challenging space into a world of its own with its personal unique identity. A garden for all seasons with plants selected for their form, texture and overall color.

We will, of course, keep you posted on the garden’s progress!