Like a Moss: CMWR Visits the Garfield Park Conservatory

The weather outside may have been frightful, but members of the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) found a delightfully warm and green corner of the city at the Garfield Park Conservatory this Winter Quarter, at our Walk and Talk event. Though our session on Monday, February 2nd was cancelled due to the snow day, CMWR members ventured out on Tuesday, February 3rd to board the appropriately-named green line and visit the conservatory. Attendees were given a sheet with some background information and dos and don’ts, which prompted them to (gently!) touch plants within reach and take pictures, but avoid picking plants or flowers.

Opened in 1908, the Garfield Park Conservatory holds six multi-faceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls. It is the sister conservatory of the Lincoln Park Conservatory, both of which are run by the Chicago Parks District. The Garfield Park Conservatory has about 100,000 species of plans, including about 40 species of palm trees, 150 species of ferns, and 600 species of cacti and succulents. Today, it is one of the top five largest conservatories in the country, covering about 14 acres in total, with the indoor display houses making up about 2 acres. Over 100,000 people visit the Conservatory each year.

Our visit began in the Palm House, where we were immediately greeted by the conservatory’s arching glass roofs and palm trees of all sizes, which provided the perfect spot for a group picture. We pushed through the jungle walkways and stopped to admire a coin fountain, with its coins placed in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day. In the Fern Room, we got up close and personal with the colorful koi, while in Horticulture Hall we admired the mosaicked Zellij Fountain, a gift from Chicago’s sister city, Casablanca. We weaved through Sugar from the Sun, which contained information plaques on where sugar comes from, and crouched under small gazebos with roofs made from the plants’ growing branches. Our visit ended in the Children’s Garden, where we took turns riding down the tunnel slide and waving at each other from the different nooks and crannies of the room’s interactive pathways.

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We finally had to leave our little oasis, but the Garfield Park Conservatory will always be there if you need an escape from the cold, city life of Chicago. Admission is free, so check out their website to plan your own visit!