Garfield Park Conservatory reopens gradually

West Garfield Park institution reopens outdoor gardens to non-members July 15

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By Igor Studenkov

Contributing Reporter

Monze Martinez, of Clearing, and Enrique Frores, of Logan Square, came to the Garfield Park Conservatory last Sunday afternoon, hoping to get into its iconic greenhouses, only to discover that all the indoor spaces were closed. The outdoor gardens were open, so they ended up on the west end of the City Garden, the largest of the outdoor gardens, where they got a good view of the vast green lawn.

"This kind of makes up for the closed greenhouses," said Martinez while she painted the surrounding landscape.

"It's a nice place to relax and enjoy the view," Flores added.

On July 15, the Garfield Park Conservatory's outdoor gardens will reopen to the public, albeit with restrictions. The gardens opened to members on July 8. To ensure that the gardens don't become too crowded, the conservatory requires visitors to make a reservation ahead of time.

Conservatory officials explained it may be a while before the institution's indoor spaces reopen.

The date for reopening the interior spaces hasn't been set, but once that happens, visitors will need to reserve their spots as well, and they won't be able to stay for more than 90 minutes.

Like other Chicago Park District indoor facilities, the conservatory has been closed since Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at home order took effect in March.

On July 1, the conservatory started mailing out Neighbor Pass postcards to all households living within half a mile of it. Anyone who presented the postcards could visit all outdoor gardens except the Play and Grow children's play area.

When the conservatory building reopens to the public, visitors will have to make reservations, according to the organization's website. In addition, visitors will only be able to stay for up to 90 minutes and they won't be able to reserve a spot after 5:30 p.m. The conservatory will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and it will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays for staff days.

The foundation and the park district already canceled all in-person activities and events through the end of 2020.

On July 12, around 10 to 12 people at any given time walked around and looked at the plants, while others relaxed. Some, like Martinez and Flores, came to paint.

Shannon Burch, of Lincoln Park, said that she is no stranger to the outdoor gardens, but it was her first time painting here. She recently started painting landscapes and thought a visit to the conservatory would provide some artistic inspiration.

"It's great to have something natural in the city and see people enjoying nature," Burch said.

She said she was looking forward to when the greenhouses reopen.


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