I was at Cantigny yesterday, and was blown away. If you are not familiar with Cantigny, it’s the former country estate of Robert R. McCormick, who built the Chicago Tribune publishing empire. He fought in the First World War, and had a life-long interest in the military, so as well as building a mansion on the 500-acre estate, he displayed tanks and heavy artillery on the grounds. An early memory of mine is going with my family to Cantigny and being scared by all the big machines. Things have changed, and the gardens are turning into a showplace, and the tanks now are discretely stashed in a wooded area.
Friday morning, having a wonderful day off from work, I took a trip to check it out. After paying a nominal entrance fee, I parked, and went walking. You are greeted by fabulous annual displays. I had brought my camera and notebook, and immediately started jotting down ideas, because one of the delights of Cantigny is that, for the most part, they use common annuals such that you or I can find at plant nurseries, but use them in wonderfully imaginative ways. So be prepared to look and learn. The beautifully planted containers are particularly fabulous, and walking through Cantigny is like going to container school. It takes approximately an hour to walk through the gardens, including the “Idea” garden, and the rose garden. Cantigny is at 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL 60189, and its website is at http://www.cantigny.org.