Saturday, May 2, 2015

Grand Reopening - Desert House at Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

I've previously reported on damage and closure to Chicago's historic Garfield Park Conservatory, designed by Jens Jensen over 108 years ago. Several portions of the conservatory were repaired relatively immediately while other updates were done over time. This month (April 2015) the conservatory celebrated it's grand reopening. 

One of my favorite spots in the Conservatory is the Desert house. Here there used to be many pencil cactus and ponytail palms. Tucked in-between these tall succulents were some very unusual and rare plants.  When I give tours of the site, this room is always one where people want to linger and get closer to the "non-native" plants. It's also where children want to touch but parents are nervous!


Garfield Park Conservatory
Desert House - 2009

Garfield Park Conservatory
Desert House - 2009


So it was with much anticipation that I visited to see the renewed Desert House!  At first I was startled by how much more open the room seems - without the pencil tree that used to anchor the north side (all the way up to the ceiling) and with one of the large cactus severely cut back, the room is so much brighter!  There are also a wider variety of cactus and succulents as a result. Many plants which were previously maintained in the back-greenhouses and put on display at the reception desk, are now in the collection.  Plus the plants are spread out more - enabling viewing of each item more fully. This also makes it feel more desert-ish :)



Garfield Park Conservatory
Desert House - May 2015

Garfield Park Conservatory
Desert House - May 2015

Yup - still love it! As many succulents blossom in the springtime and/or in the evening - I suggest a Wednesday night might be a great time to visit.

Below a few more shots of the day.






Chicago's Desert! :)

Teresa