On an overcast day like today, at the start of Chicago spring (a relative oxymoron) we are dearly missing one of our favorite things any day of the week: sunshine. That plus our propensity for getting cold all the time make us crave a lizard-like existence, basking under the rays for hours on end. With that in mind, this week’s edition is all about Chicago greenhouses, where we can receive a magnified dose of every last scrap of sunlight on the dreariest of afternoons.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Despite a major wallop to its glass panes during an intense hailstorm this summer, the Garfield Park Conservatory has reopened all of its display houses to the public (though the restoration process is still underway.) The massive campus includes six greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls, home to plants from tropical, like the rare Double Coconut Palm, to those which weather the dry desert climate.
Urhausen isn’t a public park district; it’s mainly a place to go when you’re looking to add plants to your home or garden, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent destination to catch some concentrated sunlight and lush floral scents. The family-owned, two-acre greenhouse is nestled in the heart of Lincolnwood, IL, a village with some 13,000 residents that rubs shoulders with Chicago somewhere past that huge Home Depot on Lincoln Ave. Urhausen grows vegetables, annuals, perennials and herbs, and since the staff does the growing, they can help you learn more about any of the aforementioned plants.
Kilbourn Park & Organic Greenhouse
Chicago Park District’s only organic greenhouse, the Kilbourn Park Organic Greenhouse hosts lots of events for folks of all ages. The Harvest Garden youth program was created for kids interested in getting their hands dirty, while Garden Buddies caters to toddlers. Adult workshops and classes are available too, educating interested gardeners on the care and raising of organic plants in the city.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Built at the end of the 19th century, this Victorian beauty is home to a room dedicated to orchids. If that isn’t reason enough to visit, consider a trip for the world weary Scheelea Palm, a souvenir of the Field Museum’s trip to Brazil in 1929 (how one transports a palm tree from Brazil is another story.)