Thursday, June 11, 2009

Garfield Park Conservatory

The Final Fling

Just a short walk from the hotel we got on the green line to Harlem. Who knew there was a Harlem in Chicago or even where Harlem was? The green line was supposed to drop us off right at the conservatory. That was all we needed to know and with a little help from the amused young lady in the booth, how to pay for the ride in their automated ticket machines.

We got off the train at Garfield Park and headed into the big green park space on the left instead of the cityscape and buildings on the right looking for glass houses.

Could this be the conservatory? I've never seen one with a gold dome and brick walls. Maybe it is the entrance building.

Wow what an entrance. But it was under construction and not open. The name said it was the Field House. Maybe the glass houses are behind it. Nope. Not a glass house to be seen as far as the eye can see. A map? Nope. Aha a sign that says conservatory. Pointing the way we had just come. Well the Field House was worth the detour. There sure aren't any buildings like this in the parks on Maui.

Now at our destination, I admired the fountain at the front entry. I liked the juxtaposition of the formal rectangular stone basin filled with the more natural stone in the pond. It did have one major defect. The water jets made it sound like a hot tub - not my idea of a soothing garden sound. I suppose on a cold winter day in Chicago that might be a pleasing sound.

Three large Hibiscus kauaiensis were one of the first things I saw coming into the conservatory. Twenty years in Hawaii and I doubt I ever saw one of these endangered hibiscus. A little search reveals no such hibiscus exits. It must be Hibiscus kokio subsp. kokio.

I was growing and propagating Hibiscus kokio subsp. saintjohnianus for a while before I left.

Nice bromeliads.

The Garfield Park Conservatory like Lincoln Park had a house dedicated solely to ferns and cycads, the forest primeval.

And ponds filled with water lilies .

Still waters reflect glass roofs even though they are shallow.

And then there was Chihuly. Now that is mighty impressive and such a fitting work for the water garden.

After the wet came the desert house, filled with succulents in a huge array of shapes, sizes and styles.

This Sanchezia nobilis in the children's garden house had leaves and flowers fully twice the size of the Sanchezia speciosa I used to grow.

This was another mighty fine conservatory impeccably maintained and with an interesting and diverse collection. I am just glad I can walk through these things without feeling like I am being stabbed in the heart.

But wait there is more. Step out through a side door and you enter the Monet garden.

Is this what a peony is really supposed to look like? I'm not sure I am liking the fried egg look, but damn that is a lot of flowers on that peony.

The perennial beds were laid out in a formal style and included espaliered fruit trees and wisteria trained as standards. You can see Diane, a local Chicago garden blogger, of The Garden of Live Flowers. She accompanied my friend Ani from Michigan and me on several of the tours. It was nice to be able to rely on a local when needed.

The glass house makes for an interesting background for roses and Chionanthus.

Very strange cabbage.

And out the back door was another garden in the New American style of landscaping.

Full, full sun on flat, flat ground. I don't have any of that.

It doesn't mean I can't borrow some concepts. I liked the blue glass that was sprinkled in the gravel path too.

I didn't see it until I turned to go back in, but this back wall of the conservatory was really cool. Nice wall color.

The Garfield Park Conservatory is an incredible asset to Chicago. Truly an enjoyable horticultural treasure.

Now it is time to go. This was the final garden tour of Chicago Spring Fling. Back to the green line.

Thank you to each and every one of the Chicago Garden bloggers who organized and set up such a fantastic weekend of enjoyable company and wonderful gardens to visit. You did a great job.


lola said...

Great pics. Sometimes it does feel like a stab in the heart.
All was beautiful but that was Chicago. Some good ideas but must settle down to what is offered to us in our realm.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It's funny, but I've never thought of fried eggs when seeing a white Japanese Peony. (It could be because I don't eat eggs sunnyside up.) I will always think of them now.

Pam/Digging said...

I almost hate to admit this, Christopher, but the peonies in general didn't do anything for me. They seemed too big and gaudy. And yes, I do see fried eggs there too.

Now the lilacs! Those I loved.

Christopher C. NC said...

Lola, I am just happy I am so busy enjoying new kinds of gardening that I am not missing the tropical plants.

MMGD, that is the first thing I thought when I saw those.

Pam, you get used to the peonies over time and they don't seem so blousy. I have to admit so far I am not all that impressed with lilacs.

Cindy, MCOK said...

Thanks for the tour of Garfield Park. I missed that one but the rest of the bloggers probably didn't need another tour's worth of me saying "oh, I grow that one outside in the garden!"

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a familar sight through your eyes because it makes it look so different.

lisa said...

You got some great shots! It's almost as good as being there...hope I can make it to Buffalo next year.

Diane said...

Those were about the only peonies I've ever really liked!

I need to get down into the actual park one of these days - thanks for sharing your photos! Some of the Park District architecture is rather stunning, nothing like the utilitarian shelters of my hometown parks.