Sunday in the Garfield Park Conservatory with Judy – Part I

Last Sunday Judy and I met Danny for breakfast in Logan Square, then visited the Garfield Park Conservatory for the first time in years. The Conservatory is a Chicago landmark, built in 1906 and designed by Jens Jensen, the great landscape architect of the Prairie Style. We wanted to see some green plants, but also we wanted to see how the Conservatory had recovered from the devastation caused by a hail storm in June, 2011.

Garfield Park Conservatory
2011 Hail Damage, Garfield Park Conservatory. Photo: Chicago Park District

The storm shattered half the glass panes over large sections of the conservatory. Through heroic efforts, the conservatory was reconstructed using temporary poly-carbonate sheeting. Starting in April, the Conservatory will be closed so that structural repairs can be made and permanent glass panes installed. It will not re-open until 2014.

Highlights of our visit included Chihuly glass installed with a pond and waterfall. I think I saw an article or blog post entitled “Beyond Chihuly Glass”. Are we supposed to be tired of Chihuly glass? I’ve never seen it anywhere else, so I like it.

Garfield Park Conservatory Chihuly Glass

We visited the Desert House,  where there was a sprawling cactus I didn’t see a name for, but which provided a pretty persuasive argument for keeping your shoes on.

DSC_0731

There was also Saguaro Cactus, and a Saguaro Cactus skeleton.

Saguaro Cactus

I thought this Century Plant was impressive. They bloom once after 2o or 30 years, then die.

Century Plant

In the Children’s Garden there were tropical fruit trees and plants, including this banana.

Banana

We walked through the Palm House, where we visited the Scheelea Palm. This is the Conservatory’s largest and oldest Palm, grown from a seed planted in 1926.

Scheelea Palm

Garfield Park Conservatory

Oh, and there was also some useful horticultural tips. For example, this helpful sign on pruning.

DSC_0710

On Friday I will post the strange and beautiful tropical flowers we saw at the Garfield Park Conservatory, in honor of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – seeing as there is still very little blooming outside in our area.

25 Comments on “Sunday in the Garfield Park Conservatory with Judy – Part I

  1. You are lucky to have such a great conservatory nearby. Lots of interesting plants! That huge agave makes me want to move south! Pruned? I have some weeds that need to be “pruned.”

    • Yes, I was surprised by the cactus skeleton, like the cactus was made of poles bound together by succulent material. Perhaps the poles are bundles of xylem and phloem.

  2. The glass in the water garden is truly lovely…it works for me here, probably because of the reflectivity and transparency of both water and glass. I’m not a fan, however, of glass in the garden in general. I like the chunky stuff–wood, iron, terracotta, concrete, and stone.

  3. If you’ve seen one Chihuly, you’ve seen them all. And after seeing these pics (great, btw), visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, OH, and visiting our local botanical gardens, I am beginning to think all Midwestern conservatories are the same, too. Do conservatories in desert states and tropical areas feature plants from the northern latitudes? Regardless, conservatories offer a great respite from late winter/early spring blahs. Glad Garfield Park is recovering from the hail damage.

  4. I am hearing about chihuly glass first time. Need to look up internet about them. That crawling cactus looks amazing. That was some kind of serious hail damage. I hope nothing was damaged.

  5. Makes me want to remark…”oh really, did they prune that plant?”

    What a beautiful sight that conservatory is…it will be lovely once again when it is finished.

    Jen

  6. The kids and I are frequent visitors to Garfield. They offer a kid project every Saturday, including planting young plants and seedlings. Did you slike down the slide in the kids garden?

    • I thought the kids’ garden was very nice, though we didn’t take many photos. I did want to slide on the slide, but Judy restrained me.

  7. What a magical place, so glad they repaired the damage! Thanks for this wonderful tour.

  8. Looks like a really impressive garden! It’s great having days out to places like this. I’m always amazed by the cacti! I just love them!!

  9. ATTENTION JENS JENSEN FANS AND VISITORS OF CHICAGO’S PUBLIC PARKS: JENSEN LANDSCAPED THE CITIES WEST SIDE PARKS IN HIS “PRAIRIE STYLE”, AND HIS SECOND FAVORITE PRAIRIE TREE SPECIES “THE ASH” THAT HE PLANTED THOUSANDS OF ARE NOW DYING FROM THE EMERALD ASH BORER. GO SEE THESE PARKS BEFORE THEY LOSE THEIR 98-130 YEAR OLD ASH TREES IN 2013 BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. I AM WORKING TO PRESERVE AS MANY AS POSSIBLE SINCE THEIR INDIGENOUS LIFESPANS ARE 300-6OO YEARS, AND ARE ONLY TEENAGERS AT 120. PLEASE CHECK OUT MY BLOG ON THIS SAME SITE FOR MORE INFO ON THIS MODERN DAY EXTINCTION OF THE AMERICAN ASH TREE.

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