Garden Photo of the Day

GPOD on the Road: Garfield Park Conservatory

A beautiful garden under glass

inside Garfield Park Conservatory

Hello all! It is Joseph your GPOD editor here, taking you along on a recent trip I took to Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. I’d not been there before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The stats on the website are impressive: 4.5 acres under glass, over a hundred years old, an exceptional collection of rare plants. The actual experience blew me away! I’ve visited conservatories in lots of cities, but this was one of the best. Not only does it contain beautiful plants, but they are arranged into a wonderful indoor landscape. I also love that admission is free and that the conservatory is easily accessible by train, so everyone in the city can enjoy the space. And given how long and cold Chicago winters are, having a space like this to visit has got to be almost essential.

aroid plant section of the conservatory

The conservatory is divided up into a variety of different rooms, often with a specific theme. This is the aroid room, devoted to this one family of plants. It is amazing to see the incredible diversity within this one group.

close up of bright green and pink philodendronA beautiful resident of the aroid house is Philodendron ‘Moonlight’.

conservatory dry house full of various cacti and succulentsThe dry house is very cool, full of everything adapted to desert habitats.

close up of crested euphorbiaI’ve seen crested euphorbia (Euphorbia lactea cristata ‘Variegata’) as a houseplant many times, but I never realized it could get so huge.

ferns in the conservatory with large pondMaybe my favorite part was the fern room—no flowers, just lush, beautifully diverse foliage.

large planting of various green fernsEvery surface of the fern room is covered with rich green.

closer view of fern pond with koi fishThe water in the fern room had clouds of koi.

large fern with a unique shapeMaybe my favorite fern in the fern room was paper staghorn fern (Patycerium × elemaria).

close up of a bright purple and pink bromeliad flowerWhat an incredible flower spike on this bromeliad (Neoregelia sp.)!

close up of light purple reed orchid flowerA beautiful bloom of a reed orchid (Sobralia decora)


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View Comments


  1. JaySifford 11/18/2022

    Wow. That fern room has my name written all over it. I could curl up and live in there for awhile, that's for sure.

  2. User avater
    simplesue 11/18/2022

    Wow it is a beautiful conservatory!

    Reminds me so much of Pittsburgh's Phipp's Conservatory EXCEPT in one rather shameful way- Phipp's admission is $uper Expen$ive.

    I would gladly make a generous donation on each visit to any conservatory that had free admission.
    The Fern Room is my favorite too, I could live in a room like that!

  3. btucker9675 11/18/2022

    What a glorious place!

  4. [email protected] 11/18/2022

    Joseph, thank you so much for sharing this treasure with us! I don't see a trip anywhere near there in my future, but you never know, and you have really tempted us with your photos. And FREE? What a gift to the community - wonderful.

  5. fromvirginia 11/18/2022

    Wow… incredible. Must see when I’m there. Thanks for taking us along.

  6. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 11/23/2022

    I, too, really liked the fern room!

  7. theconstantdecorator 11/23/2022

    Wow Joseph! Thanks for sharing this. Everything described is magical. 100 years old✅ Rare plants✅ Vast & under glass✅✅ I loved the dry house. I have always dreamed of a garden in the desert. I just visited Falls Park in Greenville, SC and was impressed by its design. It really invites you to meander into every part of its glorious space💚 Definitely worth a trip

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