Wikipedia states, “The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest and most impressive conservatories in the United Sates. Often referred to as “landscape art under glass,” the Garfield Park Conservatory occupies approximately 4.5 acres inside and out and contains a number of permanent plant exhibits incorporating specimens from around the world (including some ferns that are over 300 years old). Additionally, thousands of plants are grown there each year for displays in Chicago parks and public spaces.”
My first visit to the Conservatory was February 21, 2009. I was amazed by what I saw when I walked through the doors into the Palm Room. I left the cold Chicago winter and walked into a tropical rain forest. As I moved my way from room to room, I was extremely impressed with the variety of plants and was left speechless by the beauty that surrounded me. The kids had the best time exploring their surroundings and I had a blast capturing it all with my camera.
What is more amazing then the beauty that is found under the glass panes of this giant greenhouse, is the fact that the admission and parking is completely free. Even during this economic turmoil the country is experiencing, The Garfield Park Conservatory has remained open for free, every day of the year. Every time that I bring the family, we are sure to place our donation in the box, located at the main entrance.
No matter what time of year you decide to visit the Conservatory, you will never be disappointed. At Christmas time the showroom is filled with countless poinsettias, in a variety of reds, whites and pinks. We dressed the kids in their Christmas outfits one year and used the showroom as a backdrop for holiday pictures. After the holidays, the showroom is turned into a tropical paradise. A warm welcome on cold winter days. As you can see, the flowers bring out the best in the kids. Yep, their head tilters.
I’m looking forward to spending more time in the outdoor gardens this summer. Our visits have been mainly in the winter, so staying inside was our only option. After my visit this past Saturday (to view a brief slide show of the visit CLICK HERE) and stepping out into the Monet Garden and being surrounded by tulips, I knew I was missing out on some major photo opportunities. The Conservatory has three beautiful outdoor gardens.
The Conservatory was severely damaged last year. Here is their description of the events as described on the home page of the website.
“The Garfield Park Conservatory sustained catastrophic damage in the June 30, 2011 hailstorm, shattering approximately half of the glass panes in the roofs of the historic Fern Room, Show House, and ten propagation greenhouses. The glass panes in the Desert House also sustained significant damage. The pathways, ponds and plants in the Fern Room, Show House, Desert House and propagation houses were covered with broken glass, and shards of glass hung dangerously from the roofs. Until the roofs were repaired, rain caused the ponds to overflow, and direct sunlight destroyed and killed the plants that have been so carefully and lovingly conserved for so many years.”
The Garfield Park Conservatory has been a friend to the people of Chicago for over 100 years. Hopefully, we can come together as a community to help rebuild this “landscape art under glass” to it’s original beauty.