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Garfield Park Conservatory & Sunken Garden

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The original conservatory was designed and constructed in 1914 by the extremely well respected German landscape architect George Edward Kessler. The original conservatory complex consisted of a palm house, two show houses, two plant houses, a propagating house and a service building. In 1954, the aging and deteriorated conservatory glass house was replaced with a welded aluminum frame conservatory (below) that still stands today. At the time that it was constructed, it was the first all-aluminum, all-welded greenhouse in the United States.

The straight Art Deco-style lines replaced the curving line styles used in the original 1914 construction (above).Renovations to the entire park in 1997, included the introduction of the permanent rainforest theme inside the conservatory that still exists today. The conservatory is currently used in many youth and adult education classes with rainforest and nature-related themed programs. It is the host of a wide variety of plant species including palms, orchids and ferns as well as plants that are major rainforest products like cacao (chocolate), chicle (chewing gum), papaya, vanilla, banana, coffee and several varieties of citrus.

It is also the home to a few animal species as well. Although they are commonly well camouflaged it is always an enjoyable challenge to spot one of our green anoles, tree frogs or zebra finches. Due to the sensitivity of the other living things inside the conservatory, pets are not permitted into the facility.


On October 29, 1916 the Sunken Garden was dedicated and opened to the public. Like the Conservatory, the Sunken Garden was built by the design of respected German landscape architect George Edward Kessler. It included brick walks, three lighted fountains and concrete vases at the walk intersections By the end of the 1930's the Sunken Garden had grown and matured. The plantings were lush, but their general layout still conformed to Kessler's original formal design.

The formal gardens were originally surrounded by outlying informal perennial plantingToday the areas that were formerly outlying perennial beds are now large formal turf areas used frequently throughout the warmer months for wedding ceremonies and an ongoing summer concert series known as Music in the Garden. There are 2 main floral displays that change each year in the Sunken Garden: spring tulips which generally peak in mid-April, and summer annuals that peak June-September. beds and curving fish ponds that are no longer present

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Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon10:00 AM5:00 PM
Tue10:00 AM5:00 PM
Wed10:00 AM5:00 PM
Thr10:00 AM5:00 PM
Fri10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sat10:00 AM5:00 PM
Sun1:00 PM5:00 PM
Notes: None Listed


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