Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens
A Visit to Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens at Garfield Park in Indianapolis
While Chicago, Illinois is home to the Garfield Conservatory, one of the largest and most renowned in the nation, Indianapolis has it's own small conservatory at Garfield Park, on the southside of the city. Considerably smaller, the Garfield Park Conservatory and sunken gardens in Indianapolis does offer some advantages. Primarily it offers a quieter setting, one which gives visitors a chance to enjoy the gardens without the crowds.
I recently visited Indianapolis' Garfield Park Conservatory on a day in mid-June. It was cloudy outside, but bright and colorful in the conservatory's rain forest. I took a few snapshots while I was there and will share them with you here. If you live in or near Indianapolis or plan on visiting the city, I would recommend a visit.
About Garfield Park in Indianapolis
I lived in Indianapolis for many years and visited Garfield Park a number of times. Because I've enjoyed it over the years, I decided it was worth writing about so that others could get a glimpse of it, and perhaps decide to pay it a visit as well.
It is a 136 acre park and is the oldest park in the city. It is located south of downtown and is easy to access from Interstate 65. There is a map below, but exiting off of I-65 on Raymond Street, visitors can head west and then make an immediate turn on Shelby Street, heading south. Garfield Park is only a couple of blocks from the Shelby/Raymond Street intersection.
The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens are there of course, but there are other features as well. There is a Performing Arts Center, an Aquatic Center, tennis courts, a gym, an outdoor basketball court, walking trails, playgrounds, and more. In the winter, there is even a sledding hill available. You can find a map of Garfield Park here.
The Garfield Park Conservatory
While visitors can see the 10,000 square ft. rain forest in the Garfield Park Conservatory any day of the week on their own, there are also guided tours. A small entrance fee is requested, but for those who want a more educational/informative guided tour, there are a number of opportunities for groups, students, seniors, and others. The fees for entrance, the guided tours, their topics, and a schedule for the tours, can be found here.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is open from 10:00 - 5:00 Mondays through Saturdays and from 1:00 - 5:00 on Sundays.
Many of the tropical plants at the conservatory are labeled of course and they include vegetation from small ferns and flowers, to trees and even a few animals, such as fishes, frogs, and small birds. I even found a handful of displays with snakes, lizards, spiders, and so forth. There are a number of small ponds, cascades and waterfalls but I failed to get a snapshot of the largest waterfall.
Although you could take as little as 5-10 minutes to walk through the Garfield Park Conservatory, you would certainly be missing the majority of the plants that it has to offer. I found that as I stood admiring a palm tree for instance, I would suddenly spy some unusual growth buried in the thick vegetation nearby. Often brightly colored and oddly shaped. Certainly it's all vegetation common in a rain forest, but not in this midwestern location.
The conservatory was hosting only 3 or 4 young families and a group of seniors while I was there. It was certainly quiet enough to enjoy the water as it flowed over the waterfalls. The small children were clearly best suited for finding the tiniest of blooms in the heavy foliage.
When entering the building, I noticed that they had a number of plants for sale and later as I wandered outside, away from the formal gardens which lie west of the conservatory, I found a variety of more common flowers growing. It appeared that perhaps children participating in a course had planted them. (Below, I included a few snapshots of those as well.)
Time didn't permit me to wander about Garfield Park on this day. I took a single shot of the Conservatory from the far end of the Sunken Gardens and included it below. I've attended a number of summer concerts there and it makes a wonderful setting for these events. There are at least 3 or 4 fountains in the gardens, but on this somewhat rainy day, they weren't running.
The photo slide shows below will give you just a very small taste of the rain forest within the Garfield Park Conservatory and a bit of the surrounding park and gardens. If you'll be in the area, I'd recommend checking out their site which you can find from the links I included here.