We’re full tilt in the holiday season now, like it or not. Thanksgiving came in with a flurry of turkey, gravy and pie and December started in the blink of an eye. We’ve hardly had time to think about the holidays and here we are with 11 days left until Christmas and two days into Hannukah. It’s hard to believe. And maybe some of you were already donning your sweaters, Santa hats and reindeer antlers. But if it’s been harder for you to feel that holiday spirit and get excited, maybe all you need is a little push in the right direction.
For me, there’s hardly a better way than to walk into a winter wonderland, and that’s exactly what you’ll find (for free, no less) if you head out to the Garfield Park Conservatory. Each year, the conservatory puts on a Christmas show under their beautiful domes, and this year’s ‘Fire and Ice’ is a beautiful study in contrasts. Beautiful poinsettias run the gamut from snowy white to yellow, orange and deep shades of red. Charred wood posts and logs mix with fresh flame-hued reds and yellows and glossy red peppers lend the right color and heat to the floral fires. Meanwhile soft grey greens and silvers mix with ivory and white to emulate a snowy winter day. It’s not all there just to look at, though. ‘Fire and Ice’ is still an exhibit meant to educate- from facts about wildfires and frost cycles to the plants themselves and how they survive the winter. You’ll come for the showy flora and learn a thing or two as you snap photos and take in the serenity of the place.
It’d be hard to find a more peaceful place to get yourself geared up for the holidays. While the conservatory isn’t exactly a city secret, it’s also less often visited than it should be. Change that. Even on a bitter cold, grey day, you’ll find a walk through the lush landscapes a welcome change from the leafless trees and frozen ponds. It’s revitalizing, calming, and very, very Christmaslike. Admission to the Garfield Park Conservatory is free, and the conservatory has its own Green Line stop, as well as ample street parking. There’s no real reason not to get out there and enjoy the beauty the holiday brings.
Garfield Park, located at 300 N. Central Park Ave., was created in 1906-07 by park superintendent and landscape architect Jens Jensen. The conservatory was designed by Jensen in collaboration with Chicago Prairie School architects Schmidt, Garden and Martin. The conservatory was meant to be a centerpiece for the three great west side parks: Humboldt, Douglas and Garfield.