Visiting the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago

On a recent family trip to Chicago we visited my friend Jackson, who runs Okay Type, in Logan Square. That put us close enough to Garfield Park Conservatory to visit before we returned to our hotel in the suburbs.

I haven’t been to many large conservatories and I was thoroughly impressed by the scale of the place. The first hall houses huge palms trees that instantly make you feel like a small understory creature. It’s the perfect feeling for exploring the place.

Perhaps the most impressive plant there.

My favorite space was the Fern Room, which felt like a dream I’ve had since I was ten. At that age I was obsessed with rainforests and whenever I sketched plans for my ideal house, something I did regularly, it would always have an attached jungle—a glass room full of plants, birds, and lizards. The only animals here were fish.

In the Desert House, an agave plant was in bloom for the first time in 50 years—right through the roof. Agave plants will only bloom once and then die, so it was making the most of it.

Lastly, of the conservatory’s outdoors gardens, the kids Play & Grow Garden was nice surprise. It’s a fun, natural setting and a great feature for parents that are visiting with a child.

Agave americana in bloom.
The outside garden patio and entrance to the Desert House.