Annual Report

Annual Report

Annual Report

A Message from the Chairman of the Board and the President & CEO

Nature is in demand, and we are ready to meet the moment.

In 2022, the Garden marked 50 years of extraordinary growth with a celebration from May through September that included nature-inspired art installations, popup events, an interactive exhibition, and more. You’ll see photos and other memories from Flourish: The Garden at 50 in this special edition of the Annual Report.

The Garden continues to grow, and we need the financial foundation and infrastructure to meet growing public demands and expectations. In February 2022, we began charging a per-person admission fee for nonmembers. At the same time, we broke ground on a new project that will create a much-improved visitor experience. In front of the Visitor Center, you’ll see that a new Welcome Plaza is taking shape. By the end of 2022, we’ll have a visitor friendly and traffic-free entry plaza, a new lakeside Stone Family Picnic Glade, and new electric trams.

We celebrated our 50th birthday amid great change. In 2022, our attendance was the second highest in history, with 1.17 million visits to our Glencoe campus. At the same time, we shifted to a general admission fee, updated our membership program, fenced off a huge construction site for our Welcome Plaza in front of the Visitor Center, and saw the return of competition from other pre-pandemic activities.

We also continued to shift the perception of the Garden from a destination to a generous idea that motivates people to get involved in preserving and protecting our planet. We see this happening every day through our urban agriculture program, Windy City Harvest, which distributed 100,000 pounds of produce through various market channels. In addition, our horticulture, science, and urban agriculture programs continued to respond to national and international requests for insights, advice, and support. Our Negaunee Institute for Plant Conservation Science and Action scientists led international workshops on how to prevent the loss of genetic diversity in botanic garden collections, a process known as the “studbook” approach.

Now, building on the momentum of 2022, our staff is working on big-picture planning to set our course and shape our thinking for the next five years. We are in a strong position to maintain our trajectory of growth as we create our 2024-28 strategic plan; we know that this work will be driven by our purpose to connect people to the power of plants so people and the planet may thrive. We’ll continue to remain curious in how we approach our work and take risks to achieve our vision—just as we did more than 50 years ago, when the Garden started out as an “impossible dream.”

In a final nod to our 50th birthday, you’ll find specially designed postcards in the back of this Annual Report. We hope the postcards will allow you to share the Garden—and your support—with others. The Garden and its entities flourish because of your belief in our mission. As we look to the next 50 years, we want to thank you for raising your voice with ours for the plants that sustain and enrich our lives.

Jean and Michael

Michael R. Zimmerman, Chair of the Board and Jean M. Franczyk, President & CEO


We cultivate the power of plants to sustain and enrich life.