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Alabama Adventures: Longleaf Pine Treasure Forest

After hearing about Pinus palustris from several southern botanist friends, I had to see the trees for myself! I had the great pleasure of ...

06 November 2014

Oak Park Conservatory: A Charming Slice of Paradise

Steve and I love Chicago, so that's where we spent the first bit of our honeymoon! On our way back home, we decided to visit one of the conservatories.

Unfortunately, Steve's phone died in the middle of our trip and we had no idea where we were going. In addition to that, he plugged the wrong place into the GPS: Garfield Park Conservatory. So there we were, driving aimlessly. Steve sighed. "You know, we could just go another day. I have no idea where we are..." But I insisted. "No, let's keep going. You have to believe we'll get there! TAKE A RIGHT AT THAT ROAD!" "WHICH ROAD?!" "THAT ONE! Don't pass it! Go right! RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT!"

I swear to you I had no way of knowing where we were or where anything plant-related would be, but five minutes later I spotted the Oak Park Conservatory. In a previous post I listed a bunch of public gardens that I would like to visit, and this conservatory was one of them!


After a victory cheer and a few I-told-you-so's, we strolled up to the entrance. It just so happened that on Mondays, they're open for 2 hours and we arrived exactly on time. "It was meant to be, see?!" I exclaimed as I dragged Steve past the reception desk and into a slice of botanic paradise.

Oak Park Conservatory is much smaller than Garfield Park Conservatory, and its in the middle of nowhere. However, it is charming all the same. There are three showrooms. Upon entering the first room, the Fern Room, Steve's eyes lit up. Ferns are his favourite! There were, obviously, ferns displayed as well as orchids. I have to admit, despite my dislike of most orchids, these ones were beautiful.



After wandering around the Fern Room for a bit, we curiously followed the sound of parrots.



The Tropical Room is home to three parrots, koi, goldfish, and turtles as well as many exotic plants. The most vocal of the birds was a dapper fellow named George. We were greeted with loud hellos and wolf whistles.



There were some air plants hanging out on some rocks with a little waterfall. The Tropic Room has three layers of plants, with a huge Fiddle-leaf Fig tree taking up a good portion of the upper canopy.



And, as always, my absolute favourite area was the Desert Room! There were so many interesting plants to look at, but I was focused on succulents, as well as the small corner with a carnivorous plant terrarium.



On our way back to the corridor, I noticed some lovely variegated ivy.



The gift shop happened to be open, and there were many pretty trinkets. As usual, I went right to the plants they had for sale! Steve took a liking to the Mimosa pudica {Sensitive Plant} and I fawned over the succulent dish gardens. The prices were extremely tempting and I nearly walked out with all the succulents. I settled for a lovely pair of succulents. I will give more details on them and other new plants I recently obtained in a future post.

We really enjoyed our trip to this conservatory. It was extra special considering our reason for being in the area. I mean, how many people get to spend their honeymoon in the sub-tropics, tropics, and desert?


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