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Press Release: The Morton Arboretum breaks ground on new grand garden for upcoming centennial celebration

Major garden feature to be a central attraction

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LISLE, Ill., (June 29, 2021)—The Morton Arboretum is breaking ground June 30 for a lush, colorful new 2-acre garden and gathering space, in preparation for its centennial celebration in 2022.

The Grand Garden will be a reimagination of the Arboretum’s Hedge Garden, which was created in 1934 and featured a variety of shrubs arranged as formal hedges, popular in home landscapes at that time. The Grand Garden is designed to honor the historical view and layout of the earlier garden in a transformed setting showcasing the beauty and diversity of plants.

“The Grand Garden will become a new centerpiece of the Arboretum guest experience—it will be a must-see destination,” said President and CEO Gerard T. Donnelly, Ph.D. “It will appeal to the public’s appetite for beauty and experience, with colorful plantings, delightful water features and spaces designed for celebration and joy in a gorgeous outdoor landscape garden.”

It will be a garden of grand scale, including three main spaces—Centennial Plaza, the Celebration Garden, and the Joy of Plants Garden—stretching 255 yards east to west. Each area of the garden will provide guests with a unique experience, from a series of plant-filled garden rooms to a terrace for weddings and other celebrations.

The $15 million garden will be funded with philanthropic gifts covering capital costs and endowment funding for its continued care and maintenance. Leading donors, Doris Christopher, founder and chairman of Pampered Chef, Anna Ball and Susannah Ball, and the Hamill Family Foundation, have made seven-figure gifts to the garden project. Anna Ball is president and CEO of Ball Horticultural Company and serves on the Arboretum’s Board of Trustees. Overall fundraising for the project has exceeded $12.6 million to date.

“I am delighted to be among those who support this new garden during what is a milestone moment in the Arboretum’s history,” Doris Christopher said. “The beauty, charm and immersive experience this garden will offer appealed to me, as I know it will to the members and visitors who will enjoy it long into the future.”

In recent years the Arboretum has made a number of different site improvements to engage guests and advance its tree-related mission, with the latest major specialty garden being the Children’s Garden, which opened in 2005.

The Grand Garden is expected to open in September 2022 during the Arboretum’s centennial celebration, which will include a major tree planting initiative to add more than 1,000 trees throughout the seven-county Chicago region. “The regional forest is vital to the health and wellbeing of communities, as it currently provides $416 million in annual ecosystem services,” Donnelly said, adding, “For the next century and beyond, the Arboretum’s centennial tree plantings will provide essential benefits to people, such as clean air, improved health, stormwater management, shade and natural beauty.”

In addition to the new garden and tree planting initiative, plans are underway for a variety of special events and educational programs as the Arboretum celebrates its hundredth anniversary and shares its vision for the future throughout 2022.

Established in 1922 by Morton Salt Company executive Joy Morton, the Arboretum is a nonprofit organization with a mission to plant and protect trees for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world.

The Grand Garden renderings are available in Dropbox.