I am a sucker for local events. The Oak Park Conservatory is hosting Uncorked Summer Nights on the last Fridays of the next few months. The first one was last Friday and I went with Naoto and our neighbor friend Karen to check it out. For $10, you get two drink tickets, a tour of the conservatory, passed appetizers and then a chance to mill around with other plant lovers both inside the conservatory and outside on the patio.
I’ve never been to the conservatory…what a shame because it is such a local treasure! The actual conservatory was built in 1929 and it holds more than 3000 plants. There are three sections in the conservatory–the fern room, the rainforest room and the desert room. Our docent gave us a thorough tour of each room and I took plenty of pictures.
Above is the view as you walk into the fern room. You are overcome with green, in the best way possible. Here are some other views from the fern room. I’m not sure what the first two plants are (I just loved their interesting shapes!), but the last one is a lemon tree.
As we walked into the rainforest room, we could feel the change in humidity. Three birds live in this room (they chatter at you as you walk by!) and there’s a river running though the room with a few large, colorful koi fish and a tiny turtle! (It’s hard to see the little guy in my picture, but he’s right by the koi’s tail.) We also saw a cacao tree (third picture down) and a huge fiddle leaf fig (not pictured), the biggest “thing” in home blogging since chevron.The last room, the desert, was dry and warm (obviously). I was most looking forward to seeing the century plant, an agave from Mexico that only blooms once every thirty years. The picture below is from a few weeks ago when the plant started growing through the roof of the conservatory. The book club ladies and I walked down one evening to take a peek at it poking through the roof of the conservatory. Sadly, before it had a chance to really flourish, it broke off in a bad storm the week before. But we got to see the blooms up close on display since the conservatory staff was able to save those from the broken plant. From the inside of the conservatory, the base of the century plant looks like an enormous, Dr. Suess-ish plant with a giant asparagus poking out of it. I’m really not a desert person, but I loved seeing the cacti and succulents up close. There were so many interesting ones! The one below was part of a series of enormous aloe plants. Naoto cut his leg on one. (We were warned not to touch the cacti!) There were also plenty of little mice frolicking about the plants in here. It was alarming at first (they were really out in the open!) but they quickly became fun to watch (as long as they didn’t run out into the walkways!) Karen took this picture of Naoto and me in front of the century plant. I decided to wear my new floral dress (as a departure from my usual summer black and grey and cat shirts) for the gardening occasion. I’m already looking forward to going back and exploring more during August’s Uncorked event!