Designed by Danish-American landscape architect Jens Jensen in collaboration with a group of Prairie School architects and a New York engineering firm, the Conservatory celebrated its centennial last year.
This shot is from a visit during the year-long centennial celebration.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Conservatory and it's outdoor gardens are crown jewels of the Chicago Park District.
Jensen conceived the Conservatory as a series of naturalistic landscapes under glass, a revolutionary idea at the time. The shape of the structure is inspired by the haystacks of the Midwest, and complements the plant collection it houses. The Palm House, restored in 2003, is home to 84+ varieties of palms. This huge Scheelea palm was sprouted from a seed in 1926 during an expedition to Brazil, led by Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. The poem below was included on the plaque describing this specimen:
If I were growing out in nature
I'd be twice this height in stature.
As it is I'm under glass
Where I'm biggest in my class.
Winding paths delight the senses.
The shades and textures of green are a visual, tactile joy.
Beautiful, naturalistic displays made it easy to forget we were in the heart of the big city.
Agave americana in the Desert House
Don't be fooled (I was for a moment,) the birds perched on the martin house aren't real, they're sculpture.
Tough, city-hardy plants and recycled urban materials are artfully combined.
Can you tell I loved this garden?
Last year I visited the Conservatory in March when the outdoor gardens were still sleeping. After seeing them it's safe to say I'd go back for the outdoor gardens alone.
The visit to Garfield Park Conservatory Sunday morning with our warm, friendly group was a wonderfully memorable end to months of hard work, blood, sweat, sometimes controversy, and even a few tears.
I'm incredibly proud of our organizing committee and our commitment to the success of Spring Fling through all the challenges we faced. The warm, heartfelt expressions of gratitude we received throughout the event made it all worthwhile.
Garden Bloggers Spring Fling, conceived in Austin, Texas in 2008, came to Chicago in 2009, with plans already underway for a third year in Buffalo, New York. Our best wishes go out to the organizers of 2010's Garden Bloggers Spring Fling for another successful, memorable event.