Monday, January 28, 2013

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The Garfield Park Conservatory

Entrance view Garfield Park Conservatory
View from the entrance of the Garfield Park Conservatory
Every winter, there comes a time when I need a major infusion of green. Call it "cabin fever," "garden withdrawal" or whatever you like. It's a need that can only be cured by a glass ceiling, high humidity and lots of tropical plants.
I had a particularly bad case this past weekend, prompting a visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.
This complex, built 105 years ago, is truly a treasure. How can you not like a place that includes Spider Bouquet (Clerodendrum quadriloculore), Never-Never Plant (Ctenanthe lubbersiana), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia australis), Song of India (Dracaena reflexa variegata) and Trailing Watermelon Begonia (Pellionia repens)?

Palm Room at Garfield Park Conservatory
The Palm Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory

The Palm Room, which greets visitors off the main entrance, is impressive to say the least. In addition to the various palms, there are several orchids currently in bloom including potted Cymbidiums, Nun's Hood orchid (Phaius tankevilliae) and ground orchids (Spathoglottis plicata cultivar).
Hood orchid at Garfield Park Conservatory
Nun's Hood orchid
The conservatory's famed Fern Room also is open again after being devastated by a hail storm on June 30, 2011. Some parts haven't been replanted yet and won't be until the damage is permanently repaired this coming summer. It still is a tranquil retreat.
Waterfall, Fern Room, Garfield Park Conservatory
One of two waterfalls in the Fern Room
Pond, Fern Room, Garfield Park Conservatory
The central pond in the Fern Room
Fishtail ferns in the Garfield Park Conservatory
Fishtail ferns on the mossy rocks of the Fern Room
View of Fern Room at Garfield Park Conservatory
Another view of the Fern Room
There's a lot more to see, but I ran out of time. I'm sure I'll be back before spring finally comes to the Chicago area. While amaryllis, paperwhites and various plant and seed catalogs help, they only work for so long.
Where do you go when you need a green "fix" this time of year?
By Karen Geisler
White Bird of Paradise, Palm Room, Garfield Park Conservatory
White Bird of Paradise in the Palm Room

Palmetto palm, Garfield Park Conservatory
Palmetto Palm

Jungle Flame flower Garfield Park Conservatory
Jungle Flame
Mexican Horncone, Garfield Park Conservatory
Mexican Horncone
Ground orchid, Garfield Park Conservatory
Ground orchid

Crocodile fern, Garfield Park Conservatory
Crocodile fern
Spider Bouquet at Garfield Park Conservatory
Spider Bouquet


  1. Great tour! Now getting to Garfield before spring is a top priority for me!

  2. Karen what a great the fern room. I get my green fix from my herbs and other greens I grow in the basement under grow lights.

    1. I'm going to have to dig out my grow lights from the basement and do likewise. I've been making more soups and fresh herbs are really much better for that.

  3. Great shots of the Fern Room! That waterfall is lovely. I had cabin fever last week, too--I guess it was from being stuck inside during the arctic blast. So I took a walk to the lake. But I also like to visit conservatories and indoor gardens! Thanks for the tour!

    1. I liked the photos you took on your walk to the lake. Wish our snow would have lasted longer, but it has all melted. Sounds like you're in for a lot more snow in the next few days. Take care!

  4. Karen, I'm just getting caught up with your blog. What a great place this is to escape from winter blues or blahs. Just looking at your photos gave me a lift. I must confess, though, that since I'm one of those people who tends to let house plants grow and propagate out of control, I always have plenty of green in both my house and my office at work. -Jean

    1. Glad you have plenty of inside green. The number of my houseplants has fallen as the number inside has risen. I'm trying to reverse that trend this year with amaryllis and paperwhites.