The only thing more annoying than the polar vortex, are the people who whine incessantly about it. Sure, we’ve been riding a meteorological rollercoaster the past few months. Mother Nature is still laughing at the calendar which belies that Spring has arrived. But, hey, that bitch is in charge. So, deal with it! I did. Two Fridays ago, it was 47 degrees. Having no time or money to fly off to a proper tropical paradise and no one to play with on that particular day, I decided to hop the CTA Green line to the Garfield Park Conservatory which is a mere 15-20 minute ride from downtown Chicago.
I have been a fan of conservatories for a long time. They offer a quick, dirt-cheap respite from the brutally cold weather and a little patch of peace all year round. The warm and humid rooms of Garfield Park Conservatory are home to a wide array of exotic plants and flowers, both local and international, under a huge glass dome which filters in natural sunlight. Can I get an AMEN for Vitamin D?! Just the medicine needed for battling “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”
At Garfield Park Conservatory I could daydream for an hour or two and pretend I was on a tropical island far, far away. Upon entering this glass wonderland, I was immediately seduced by the bright colors, intoxicating fragrances and an urgent need to peel off two outer layers of winter clothing. Bam! Instant Summer!
Within minutes, my pulse and breath slowed down, my teeth stopped chattering, my body stopped shivering, my jaw unclenched and my shoulders relaxed and dipped away from my ears. I took my time meandering through Palm Room, Fern Room, Sugar From The Sun room and the Elizabeth Morse Genuis Childrens’ Garden. My eyes gazing high and low at stunning plants, flowers, trees, grass, fruit and moss from all over the world. A few of the other rooms here are closed currently for renovations, so I will definitely be returning to get a fresh fix!
I am not a gardener. Truthfully, my thumb is a much paler shade of green than most! However, I do enjoy the transportive and tranquil powers that conservatories offer. It is hard to be grumpy in such a beautiful place. On this particularly cold Spring day, I enjoyed a make-believe vacation-on-a-shoestring. A “stay-cation under glass”, if you will!
Garfield Park Conservatory was built in the early 1900’s. It is located in Garfield Park on Chicago’s west side. Admission and parking are free. However, they do invite you to a leave a small, optional donation upon entering. The CTA Green Line stops 1/2 block away from the main entrance. Like many conservatories, Garfield Park hosts flower shows and other events throughout the year. The wildly popular “Beer Under Glass” event will take place on May 15th. “Fleurotica,” a runway fashion show where the designs are made from this conservatory’s plants and flowers, is scheduled for June 12th.
Garfield Park Conservatory’s outside garden is also quite lovely. It even features a labyrinth (score!) around which I took a relaxing turn. I have walked labyrinths in many urban and country gardens around the world. Their origins are unknown but they span many cultures and faiths. Labyrinths are winding walks that lead to a central core. They are a great mode of meditation and therapy. Cheaper than going to a spa or a shrink!
For more information about Garfield Park Conservatory, visit www.garfieldconservatory.org.
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.