GARFIELD PARK- Itching to rescue a puppy or kitten from your local Humane Society but don’t feel inclined to leave an animal roaming your apartment during the day?
The Garfield Park Conservatory has a solution.
The conservatory, 300 N. Central Park, has 500 tropical plants that can’t chew your shoes or scratch your floors but are in need homes before the snowy Chicago winter descends on the city.
After the June 30 hailstorm damaged 60 percent of the Garfield Park Conservatory, many tropical plants were moved outdoors for the remaining warm days. With winter approaching, the Chicago Park District felt it needed to act, and the plant sale idea was born.
“Lucky for us, we’re having unseasonably warm conditions, but because we can’t put the plants in the damaged glasses houses, we need help saving them,” said Zvezdana Kubat, spokesperson for the Chicago Park District. “Help give a plant a home before the cold winter months.”
The sale takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.-or until the last plant is sold- on Saturday Oct. 22 at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Most plants will be sold for $10 or less, though larger plants are likely to go for more. Master gardeners will also be present to advise customers on plant care.
Kubat said that in order to house the plants, the park district would need 34,000 square feet of plant storage that it currently does not have. Unique and endangered plant species, she adds, have been sent to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, but there is not additional space available for the remaining greenery.
“No plant is replaceable, but the species we’re selling, we can get again. The ones we’re not selling are very hard to find,” Kubat said. “We do have some endangered species that also will not be for sale.”
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, the botanic garden’s nonprofit arm, kicked off an online fundraising campaign last month. Its’ “One Pane at a Time,” effort is encouraging people to donate money to replace the shattered glass panes in the roofs of the Conservatory’s Fern Room and Show House. Money is also being raised for glass in 10 greenhouses.
Built in 1908, the conservatory is among the largest urban botanic gardens in the nation, with more than 180 acres covering its indoor space and outside grounds. The facility is insured through the Chicago Park District, but the hailstorm damage is still being assessed. With an estimated cost of $2 million just to clean up the shattered glass, all that is certain is that the plants left without a home need to be relocated.
“Plants that are in conservatories are in there for a reason,” Kubat said. “These plants will die before we get them into storage.”