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Morton Arboretum’s largest donation to date means an expanded play area for kids and more

Written by
Laura Rote

The sprawling wonderland that is Morton Arboretum continues to grow, thanks to a recently announced five-year, $63 million campaign that's raised more than $35.6 million in its early stages. As part of the Growing Brilliantly campaign, you can expect to have even more fun among the 1,700-acre park in coming years. Here are just a few of the highlights:

An enhanced Children’s Garden. The Children’s Garden, already an award-winning endeavor, will see improvements to its Wonder Pond as part of the campaign. The kids will be able to access the pond all the way around, so they can roll up their pant legs, splash around a little, and even watch as tadpoles hatch. The deck area around the pond will be expanded, and families will soon appreciate a new arbor for more shelter from the sun on warm days. Plus, tired tots will be able to relax on five new log benches made from recycled wood from the arboretum’s grounds. The entire area will be stroller- and wheelchair-accessible.

A new South Farm. This area’s buildings date back to the 1930s, and a lot has changed since then. For starters, the arboretum has more than quadrupled in size. As part of the campaign, the arboretum is getting a new operations center, transportation hub and expanded plant production facilities—with 5,400 square feet of new greenhouse space. This project is already underway and expected to be complete in 2017. Construction began in February.

Rendering Courtesy Morton Arboretum

The Center for Tree Science. This new initiative will bring together tree scientists, students and others in the field for special projects and training.

The arboretum, open 365 days a year, is worth the short trek to Lisle for its beautiful grounds and diverse programming. This summer, when you're not perusing the trees or taking a hike, you can also check out theater productions like The Jungle Book or The Iliad, The Odyssey and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less, or take the kids to visit Ribbit! the Exhibit.

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