Gardens & Collections

Whether it’s the food we eat or the oxygen we breathe, we are connected to plants every second of every day. Garfield Park Conservatory’s mission is to examine, explore, experiment with, and explain our relationship with plants. Over our one-hundred year history, we have pursued those goals and more. We continue to grow exotic plants in striking landscapes, creating the world in Chicago’s backyard. Our collection is constantly evolving. We acquire new specimens, create new hybrids, and our Show House changes several times a year. The Conservatory is a unique institution- it is an historical icon in constant transformation.

We continue the legacy of our founder, Jens Jensen, that “the country must come to the city”, by sustaining an urban oasis with plants inside the glasshouses and outside in gardens. Whether your visit is to learn more about plants or to simply enjoy their beauty, we invite you to share the wonder that is the Garfield Park Conservatory. There is no other place like it on Earth. 

Palm House

At 65 ft high and 90 ft wide, this is the largest room in the Conservatory. It is designed as an idealized tropical landscape, featuring more than 70 graceful palms, as well as other plants from warm habitats all around the world.

Fern House

Jens Jensen, who designed the Conservatory in 1906, wanted to give visitors a glimpse of what Illinois might have looked like millions of years ago. Lush ferns, rocky outcroppings and an indoor lagoon evoke the swampy landscape of prehistoric Chicago.

Sugar From the Sun

Four themed botanical environments – water, air, sunlight, and sugar – help visitors discover how right now, inside every leaf, plants are capturing sunlight and using it to change small parts of air and water into sugar – the energy that sustains life on Earth.

Desert House

The Desert House holds one of the region’s most varied collections of cacti and succulents. These plants owe their popularity to their spectacular and unique forms, the promise of brilliant, short-lived flowers and their ability to withstand harsh, dry conditions. The size of the plants in this room varies from the tiny living stone plant to the large century plants.

Aroid House

Indoor gardeners are sure to find something familiar here, as many aroids are popular houseplants. A variety of aroids growing in a landscape setting are on display. A spectacular feature is the “Persian Pool,” sixteen yellow lily pads, which were created by the world acclaimed glass artist Chihuly expressly for the Aroid House.

Show House

This room is the site of spectacular flower shows each year. Much of the plant material displayed in the shows is grown at the Conservatory. The original 1908 layout of the room was restored following the 2011 hailstorm, and includes the large central ellipse that was designed as the feature display for flower shows.

Horticulture Hall

Named one of Chicago’s top ten event venues, this public space sparkles with festive flowers and greenery. This room houses bistro tables for the public to sit and enjoy the greenery around them or have a snack. After hours, the room can be transformed into an amazing setting for weddings, corporate receptions, or performance space.

Outdoor Gardens

The 12 acres of outdoor gardens include the City Garden, Demonstration Garden, Play & Grow Garden, Monet Garden and Sensory Garden.

E.M.G. Children's Garden

The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden is a fun and comfortable indoor setting for families and school children. A giant, meandering vine with larger-than-life sized roots, seed, leaves and flower provides opportunities for children to play while learning about plants.

Digital Tours

Explore the Conservatory houses with your very own digital tour guide! It’s free and web or app accessible, on-site and from home. CLICK HERE to access a variety of tours for all ages and interests.

Conservatory Campus Map

Prepare for your visit by downloading a printable pdf of the Conservatory Visitor Map.