About the Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory is home to hundreds of different plants from the world's tropics. The conservatory is 10,000 square feet. Even on the coldest winter days, you can warm up in the conservatory and see what's blooming! The space also has various educational displays and many special events throughout the year.
Original Conservatory Design
The original Conservatory was designed and constructed in 1916 by respected German landscape architect George Kessler. It consisted of a palm house, two show houses, two plant houses a propagating house and a service building. The original structure was designed with traditional curving roof lines.
In 1955, the aging wooden Conservatory was replaced with a welded aluminum framed building in the art-deco style. This is the Conservatory that remains today. At the time this Conservatory was constructed, it was the first aluminum building in the United States.
Renovations were made to the entire park in 1997, of which included, the introduction of a permanent rainforest theme in the Conservatory. The Conservatory now houses a wide variety of plant species including palms, orchids, ferns, cacao, vanilla, bananas and coffee.
Current Conservatory Design
The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden includes three acres of European classical formal gardens. The garden's seasonal fountains, formal flower displays, concrete urns and bowls are historically maintained as George Kessler would have designed them in the 1910s. This beautiful step back in time is a welcome break from the busyness of city life.
On October 29th, 1916 the Sunken Garden was officially dedicated and opened to the public. Both the Conservatory and Sunken Garden were designed by respected German landscape architect George Kessler. Kessler was known for many architectural accomplishments throughout Indianapolis and he is the one for whom Kessler Blvd was named. Kessler also had the honor of studying under Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York Central Park along with many other parks and gardens. Kessler created brick walkways, 3 lighted fountains and concrete urns and bowls at the walkway intersections. While some of the original flower beds have been converted to turf and all of outdoor fish ponds have been removed, much of the original architecture remains today.
These converted turf areas now serve as host outdoor concerts and weddings in the warmer months. The rest of the garden remains as European classical display garden with two main floral displays each year. In the spring thousands of tulips bloom and in the summer they are replaced by colorful annuals. We can never be quite sure when everything will be in bloom and look its best, so if your looking to have an event in the Sunken Garden keep that in mind. The fountains are also seasonal and run from mid-spring to mid-fall every year.
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