Weather.com forecasts the high temperature to be four degrees above zero today with a wind chill of -20. Very pleasant conditions—if you happen to be a penguin or a polar bear.
If you’re already tired of frigid weather and can’t hop on a jet to Kailua, there’s a far more affordable alternative: take the Green Line to 300 N. Central Park Avenue in Garfield Park.
The Garfield Park Conservatory offers welcome relief from the outside cold and there’s plenty of greenery within the friendly confines. It’s also the perfect environment for a photo safari. That’s where I was on Sunday with a dozen members of the Chicagoland Digital Photo Meetup Group. Our challenge was to find an artistic way to capture plants.
“I always try and challenge myself at the Conservatory and today’s challenge is symmetry,” said our leader Annette Levgard. “Try to find palm fronds or leaves that mirror themselves top to bottom or side to side.”
Another tip from Annette for those who haven’t been to the Conservatory before: if you drive there, leave your coat in the car. It’s quite warm and humid inside.
The conservatory is known as “landscape art under glass.” It was built between 1906 and 1908 and designed by Jens Jensen, with assistance from Schmidt, Garden, and Martin (practitioners of the Prairie School).
Garfield Park and the conservatory are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The conservatory is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays). Admission is free.