A hidden Chicago gem

One of our first stops on our Chicago getaway (click here for the overview blog of our recent trip) was the Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s not far off the interstate, and I’m sure I’ve seen the sign for it dozens of times, but I never gave it much thought. My husband chose it as a place to kill time before checking into the hotel and as an addendum, of sorts, to our Longwood Gardens  visit in Pennsylvania in late summer. We took the kids there, which isn’t always conducive to a leisurely walk through the gardens.

Here, though, on our own, we could stop and read the plant markers, savoring the sights and smells of green.

When I look at these pictures, I can’t even believe I was in Chicago when I took them. The city never ceases to surprise me in some way.

The conservatory has palms, ferns, poinsettias (in season, which they happened to be), fruits and desert plants.

Here’s a cactus skeleton, 100 years old:

And beautiful art mixed with the beauty of nature. These are glass sculptures the conservatory purchased after housing an exhibit of this artist’s creations.

I’ve not been much of a plant person in my life, but it’s growing on me, pun not necessarily intended. I have an aloe plant in my kitchen that sparks something in me when I see it. A sign of life. I’ve never been very good about taking care of plants, but I suddenly want to add them to the decor in our house. There’s a sense of peace that comes from greenery.

So, we left the conservatory with a souvenir. A tradescantia zebrina plant, also known as an inch plant or a wandering Jew. (Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?) We’re tending it carefully until we can get it back to Pennsylvania to repot it and take better care of it.

A cool souvenir. The start of more to come, I hope. I can feel my thumb changing from black to shades of green.

All because of a couple of hours spent in a conservatory in a somewhat rough part of Chicago.

Did I mention the conservatory is free with free parking? If that’s not reason enough to check it out, then nothing else I can say or show will convince you.


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