Saturday, September 29, 2012


Cantigny was an area in France that Colonel Robert R McCormick (1880-1955) wanted to memorialize by naming his twenty-nine acres in Wheaton, Illinois, "Cantigny."  He had fought at this area in France during World War I and was intent on making his property a War Museum to honor the brave soldiers who stood beside him.  At Cantigny he had experimental gardens that tried new species of plants and tested theories of planting and harvesting.

Colonel McCormick became the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune Newspaper.

He was 6 feet 4" tall, 200 pounds and an excellent horseman.  His grandfather was Joseph Medill a publisher who the Medill School Of Journalism is named after at Northwestern University.

Robert thought of himself as an aristocrat who came from a long line of famous people, John and Cyrus McCormick, inventors of the reaper and owners of a company that would later become International Harvester.  He was an older cousin of Madeline Albright former secretary of state.

The visitors come now to his home, children climb on the tanks, visit his home and the war museum on the grounds.  However, the most beautiful areas are the many gardens.

The pumpkin people are already set up for all to enjoy.
King Tut Papyrus
The display areas are a gardeners delight because just about everything is labeled.
Mums, asters, carex and daisies
The interplanting of kale and grasses was very effective breaking up the placement of mums.
Cleome Seniorita Rosilita and Castor Bean
It was important this year to see the annuals that have held up to the summer heat.
Begonia Fortune Pink
These Begonias (Party Pink) are in full sun.
Dahlia Mystic Illusion
I grew this one and it performed great all summer.
Gomphrena Audray Pink
Gomphrena Fireworks
Verbena Bonariensis
This variety of Cosmos was not labeled, but still going strong.
Zinnia Uproar Rose
This is one I will be looking for next year.  Horticulturist on staff said this was one of the best they have grown.  My little fingers were dying to deadhead, even if just for looks!
Tamarix with Fine Wine Weigela
The Tamarix is a large tree like plant with red flowers, you need room for this one.
New Zealand Sedge Prairie Fire
This was the most beautiful cranberry red mum with a fascinating grass, could not find the name on either of these.  We couldn't tell if the grass was a Molinia or a Pennestium?
Pennestium Piglet
The use of smaller grasses in the middle of beds really works.
Pennestium Jade Princess
Isn't this a great looking plant, would remind you of cattails.
Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean Feather Grass)
This was a most impressive grass!
I don't usually plant annual groundcovers but I will have to rethink this for next year.
Alternanthera Little Ruby
This is a great groundcover that easily goes into fall, however, it is an annual.
Purple Sage (used as an annual groundcover)
Almost forgot to mention the hawk that was swooping around our heads supposedly looking for a mouse!


sharon said...

cant believe he posed for you on the best spot..what a loovely place..thanks for the tour

Balisha said...

I have been to Cantigny many times. Not since I moved to Byron though. Thanks for letting me follow along and relive some old memories.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Sharon,

I just pointed my camera up, sun was in my eyes, but I caught him.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Balisha, I had not been to Cantigny for many years. It is a beeautiful place.


Karen said...

Have always meant to get there but have never made it. Will have to redouble my efforts after seeing your lovely pictures!

Mary Anne said...

Eileen: Hate to admit it, but I have not been to Cantigny in years. I must go and enjoy the Fall offerings! Beautiful photos and information. As usual with your posts, I always take pen in hand and jot down some of your wise advice! Drove by your home the other day and Fall has arrived!Beautiful Eileen!


Glad the hawk didn't cause any ruckus. Only once has one flown into my garden. My cat was with me and I think the hawk wanted to fly off with him.

It's good to see what kinds of plants can handle adverse conditions and you nailed it with these photos. I can't believe that pink Begonia is in full sun. Is this another "bred for full sun" cultivar like the Sun Coleus?

I believe the Tamarix flowers are actually a medium shell pink color. Unless there is a new red-flowering variety which is entirely possible. Plant breeders are doing amazing things these days.

Have a great week.

Becca's Dirt said...

Looks like the weather was beautiful too. Gorgeous displays.

Jennifer said...

Hi Eileen, This would be a nice garden to visit if I ever make it to the Chicago area. Annuals really put on a show at this time of year, don't they? It is so impressive to see mass plantings of them.

joey said...

Delightful tour of Cantigny, Eileen! (You do them so very well!) Happy October :)

Zoey said...

Love the pumpkin people. What a fun project.

The King Tut looks nice planted in the ground. I have seen it used in containers where it is way too tall –flops over and looks like a big mess.

What a great garden of mums and kale. I bet it looks spectacular when the mums are in flower!

Interesting with the small grass in the middle of the beds. ..I may try this with one of the small grasses I just bought.

Pennestium Jade Princess is gorgeous! I hope I can remember that one.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Mary Anne,

I think Fall is my second favorite next to Spring. I love it right now with the leaves swirling and the colors changing.


Gatsbys Gardens said...


You would love this trip especially since all of the plants are labeled.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Grace,

The hawk did shake us up a bit, we even ducked.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Jennifer,

It is difficult not to use annuals to extend the gardening season. I have never seen so many mums and cabbages in one place.


Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Zoey,

The large King Tut was huge. I have used the smaller one in a container and that was even large.


Mitchel @ CheapSheds PTY LTD said...

Wow! Definitely a beautiful garden. It is really an amazing post. Those blooms are very lovely. Thanks a lot for the share.