Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

One of the great perks of getting to go on a tour for my latest book is the ability to visit different cities around the country and have some downtime to visit the conservatories and botanical gardens. Out of all my travels over the years, Chicago was never on the list. Of course, when I visited The Windy City, it was literally the rainiest day on record since 1943. (Perhaps a more apt name at that moment could have been The Rainy City). 

Soggy conditions didn't dampen my mood, however, and I made sure I landed nice and early at O'Hare so that I could fit in visits to both the Garfield Park Conservatory, for which this blog post is dedicated to—and the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which will be the topic du jour in a subsequent post.

Going to Chicago in March is a crapshoot, but going to Chicago in March during the rainiest day in recent history means that I only got to check out the indoor components of the conservatory. The outdoor gardens are nearly six times larger than the indoor ones, but believe me: there is plenty to see in the greenhouses! As a matter of fact, I completely ran out of space on my camera, which didn't even happen when I went to the forests of Costa Rica. Sure, I was killing some time, but I tell you: this was one of the more beautiful spaces that I've seen; and best yet—it was free (donations accepted) to attend, as it's part of the Chicago Parks System, making it even that much more special. I would add this to your "Must See" Conservatory list; and I just found out I'll be going back to Chicago in the summer months, so hopefully in a few months time, I'll be posting more photos from the outdoors. Hope you enjoy the virtual tour of 200+ images! 🌿

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A Never-never plant (Ctenanthe lubberiana)

A Never-never plant (Ctenanthe lubberiana)

A new leaf emerges from a Philodendron sp.

A new leaf emerges from a Philodendron sp.

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The aptly named "Bloodleaf" (Iresine lindenii) 

The aptly named "Bloodleaf" (Iresine lindenii

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A Philodendron unfurls a new leaf alongside a bromeliad. 

A Philodendron unfurls a new leaf alongside a bromeliad. 

I think this is a type of Bougainvillea. 

I think this is a type of Bougainvillea. 

Bromeliad, up-close

Bromeliad, up-close

A Spathoglottis plicata. 

A Spathoglottis plicata. 

Aechema sp. Bromeliad

Aechema sp. Bromeliad

Pink nerve plant (Fittonia sp.)

Pink nerve plant (Fittonia sp.)

Pilea depressa, otherwise known as large creeping Charlie. 

Pilea depressa, otherwise known as large creeping Charlie. 

A butterfly amaryllis, which seems to be in season for blooming (Hippeastrum cybister x papilio)

A butterfly amaryllis, which seems to be in season for blooming (Hippeastrum cybister x papilio)

White candles (Whitefieldia elongata) at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

White candles (Whitefieldia elongata) at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Syngonium podophyllum albo-variegatum growing at the conservatory.

Syngonium podophyllum albo-variegatum growing at the conservatory.

The metallic sheen of the Aluminum plant (Pilea cadieri). 

The metallic sheen of the Aluminum plant (Pilea cadieri). 

Stilt or Parallel Peperomia (Peperomia puteolata)

Stilt or Parallel Peperomia (Peperomia puteolata)

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I've always been tempted to lay down in the bed of Fittonia verschaffeltii, otherwise known as Miniature Silver Nerve Plant for its striking silvery white veins.

I've always been tempted to lay down in the bed of Fittonia verschaffeltii, otherwise known as Miniature Silver Nerve Plant for its striking silvery white veins.

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy'

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy'

Stilt peperomia (Peperomia puteolata) was the first peperomia that made me fall for the genera. I love its pinstripes and firm leaves and it's gorgeous here at the conservatory.

Stilt peperomia (Peperomia puteolata) was the first peperomia that made me fall for the genera. I love its pinstripes and firm leaves and it's gorgeous here at the conservatory.

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy' unrolling

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy' unrolling

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy' and Calathea musaica at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy' and Calathea musaica at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

The unique venation and markings of Spirit Calathea (Calathea musaica).

The unique venation and markings of Spirit Calathea (Calathea musaica).

Close-up on Calathea musaica at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Close-up on Calathea musaica at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy'

Calathea 'Helen Kennedy'

White flowering Calathea 'Encore' 

White flowering Calathea 'Encore' 

The aptly named spiral flag (Costus barbatus) rises above the prayer plants. 

The aptly named spiral flag (Costus barbatus) rises above the prayer plants. 

A Stromanthe stromanthoides 'Triostar', which is one of my favorite prayer plants. 

A Stromanthe stromanthoides 'Triostar', which is one of my favorite prayer plants. 

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Calathea bella growing large at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

Calathea bella growing large at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

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Torn leaves, Calathea bella

Torn leaves, Calathea bella

Peperomia pereskiifolia, which is a lovely variety I'm on the hunt for. 

Peperomia pereskiifolia, which is a lovely variety I'm on the hunt for. 

Peperomia pereskiifolia at the Garfield Park Conservatory.  

Peperomia pereskiifolia at the Garfield Park Conservatory.  

Trailing watermelon begonia (Pellionia repens)

Trailing watermelon begonia (Pellionia repens)

A Ficus elastica variegata at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

A Ficus elastica variegata at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus)—I had never seen one with such pronounced red etching!

Bird's nest fern (Asplenium nidus)—I had never seen one with such pronounced red etching!

Light shining through a peacock plant (Calathea makoyana)

Light shining through a peacock plant (Calathea makoyana)

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Fittonia and Bromeliad at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Fittonia and Bromeliad at Garfield Park Conservatory.

Jacob's Coat (Acalyha wilkesiana) 

Jacob's Coat (Acalyha wilkesiana

Gold-dust plant (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata')

Gold-dust plant (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata')

Bromeliad (Vriesae fenestralis)

Bromeliad (Vriesae fenestralis)

Malayasian draecena (Draecena reflexa) 

Malayasian draecena (Draecena reflexa) 

Bromeliad, up-close

Bromeliad, up-close

Gorgeous coloration, plant unknown. 

Gorgeous coloration, plant unknown. 

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Mexican breadfruit (Monstera deliciosa)

Mexican breadfruit (Monstera deliciosa)

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Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) 

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila

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  Tillandsia usneoides or Spanish moss is a type of epiphytic plant commonly found throughout the southern U.S. and Central and South America.

 

Tillandsia usneoides or Spanish moss is a type of epiphytic plant commonly found throughout the southern U.S. and Central and South America.

Sunlight takes thousands of years to be created, about eight minutes to reach earth, and a fraction of a second to be captured and used by a plant.

Sunlight takes thousands of years to be created, about eight minutes to reach earth, and a fraction of a second to be captured and used by a plant.

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Vanilla planifolia

Vanilla planifolia

Pink quill (Tillandsia cyanea) 

Pink quill (Tillandsia cyanea

Maranta leuconeura erythroneura in bloom at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Maranta leuconeura erythroneura in bloom at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis 'Ma'afala')

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis 'Ma'afala')

A very verdant Vanilla planifolia orchid.

A very verdant Vanilla planifolia orchid.

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Cacti at Garfield Park Conservatory

Rows of pastel hues lined the glass walls and center aisle of the Conservatory's cacti and succulent room. There were ample specimens to ogle over.

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Succulents embrace

Succulents embrace

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Walking Sanseveiria (Sanseveiria pingulcula)

Walking Sanseveiria (Sanseveiria pingulcula)

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Adenia fruticosa or clover vine

Adenia fruticosa or clover vine

Dioscorea mexicana or Elephant's foot

Dioscorea mexicana or Elephant's foot

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Kalanchoe tomentosa

Kalanchoe tomentosa

Parodia leninghusii

Parodia leninghusii

Parry's agave (Agave parryi)

Parry's agave (Agave parryi)

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Flower Room, Garfield Park Conservatory

The blossoms in this room were most impressive. The pinks and reds were almost "too much" for the eyes. I thought my pupils needed to adjust to the barrage of color until I overheard another passerby say the same. Too much of a good thing? I'll let you decide...

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Matthiola

Matthiola

Pocketbush flower at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

Pocketbush flower at the Garfield Park Conservatory. 

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Aroid House, Garfield Park Conservatory

Philodendrons, Anthuriums, and Monsteras—oh my! I got to discover many new varieties of Aroids, which I hadn't had a chance to see at other conservatories. So step inside and see a little of what I saw!

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Alocasia macrorrhizos otherwise known as Borneo Giant Elephant Ear. 

Alocasia macrorrhizos otherwise known as Borneo Giant Elephant Ear. 

Creeping philodendron (Rhaphidophora decursiva)

Creeping philodendron (Rhaphidophora decursiva)

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Philodendron 'Mandaianum'

Philodendron 'Mandaianum'

Red leaf philodendron

Red leaf philodendron

Philodendron 'Lynette'

Philodendron 'Lynette'

Anthurium

Anthurium

Alocasia Sting Ray

Alocasia Sting Ray

Philodendron

Philodendron

Philodendron rugosum otherwise Pigskin philodendron

Philodendron rugosum otherwise Pigskin philodendron

A few Caladium among the Drop-Tongue (schismatoglottis neoguineensis

A few Caladium among the Drop-Tongue (schismatoglottis neoguineensis

Philodendron plowmanii

Philodendron plowmanii

Crystal Anthurium (Anthurium crystallinum)

Crystal Anthurium (Anthurium crystallinum)

Drop-Tongue (Schismatoglottis neoguineensis)

Drop-Tongue (Schismatoglottis neoguineensis)

Spathyphyllum

Spathyphyllum

Syngonium rayii among Aglaonema

Syngonium rayii among Aglaonema

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Anthurium podophyllum

Anthurium podophyllum

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Anthurium podophyllum

Anthurium podophyllum

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Aglaonema

Aglaonema

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Cocoloba granifolia

Cocoloba granifolia

Philodendron goeldii

Philodendron goeldii

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Anthurium houstonianum

Anthurium houstonianum

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Aroid infloresence

Aroid infloresence

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Fern Room, Garfield Park Conservatory

Someone shared that the Fern room at the Garfield Park Conservatory was built in the 1930s. Admittedly I'm typing this and have not checked on that statistic, but my golly—if that's the case—well done to those who had constructed it. It was by far my favorite room of the entire Conservatory: lush, verdant, and intoxicating!

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