Monday, April 14, 2008

Garfield Conservatory's 100th Birthday Celebration

Sunday April 13th 2008 was a day for celebrating 100 years since opening the doors to the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago.

Above is a picture (click on picture to enlarge) of Julia Bachrach co-author of the book 'Inspired By Nature', a history of Garfield Park, The Garfield Conservatory and the surrounding neighborhood. I was able to attend her 30 minute presentation on the history of the Conservatory and its more recent outreach programs that have made Garfield an important member of the local urban green movement.

Seems Garfield Park was initially the largest of the three west side parks Columbus,Humbolt and Garfield (originally known as Central Park), designed by William LeBaron Jenney. The park was opened to the public in 1874. In 1905 Jens Jensen was appointed superintendent of the west park system and made the decision to replace three already crumbling small working green houses with one large display house open to the public. Although fraught with problems it became a sensation drawing visitors from far and wide with its unique Landscape Under Glass.
The book has pictures of both the early days and recent improvements along with plenty of park and west side history. It is a great story well presented.

Here are a few pictures taken of the latest in an ongoing renovation of the conservatory.

Once called the Sweet House it is now Sugar From The Sun,the story of how plants use sunlight to produce the food of life. (click picture to read)

You can see bananas,pineapples,guava,sugarcane,oranges and even cocoa growing throughout.

What a beautiful exhibit that continues the tradition of landscaped spaces under glass.

Not just an attendee but also a Master Gardener volunteer, along with eating birthday cake I helped to distribute 100 free trees and explained planting and care instructions to recipients. Then off on a park wide tree trek to discover trees 100 years or older.

Lead by Jim Dehorn of Chicago Treekeepers we attempted to estimate the age of several trees. First the trees were identified. Then trunk circumference measured at a height of 4.5 ft. This is divided by mathamatical pi, then multiplied by the number of years it takes that particular species of tree's trunk to grow one inch.

1. Work in groups of 3 or more.
2. Determine the species of tree.
3. With a tape measure, find the circumference of the tree (in inches) 4 1/2 feet above the ground.
4. Determine the diameter of your tree.
Formula: Diameter = Circumference divided by 3.14 (pi)
5. Calculate the age of the tree.
Formula: Diameter X Growth Factor

Tree Species-Growth Factor
Red Maple - 4.5
White Oak - 5.0
Silver Maple - 3.0
Red Oak - 4.0
Sugar Maple- 5.0
Pin Oak - 3.0
River Birch- 3.5
Linden or Basswood - 3.0
White Birch - 5.0
American Elm - 4.0
Shagbark Hickory - 7.5
Ironwood - 7.0
Green Ash - 4.0
Cottonwood - 2.0
Black Walnut - 4.5
Dogwood - 7.0
Black Cherry - 5.0
Redbud - 7.0
Aspen - 2.0

How Old Is My Tree (pdf)

Telling A Trees Age (article)


Green Ash- circumference of trunk at 4 and 1/2 ft above ground = 90 inches

90 divided by 3.14 (pi) = 28.7

28.7 x 4.0 (growth rate) = 114.8

age estimate 114.8 years

OK, so it is only an estimate.
City trees tend to have problems like pollution or disturbance that may slow growth or if without competition for sun and nutrients, grow a bit faster.
But what a fun way to at least get an idea of how old a tree might be.



Blogger Annie in Austin said...

How cool that you were part of the 100th celebration, Gloria! The book sounds fascinating.

It's probably 15 years since I was at the Garfield Conservatory - but family members still living in IL go to see the spring flowers. The azaleas were a major event when I was a kid!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

16/4/08 10:56 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Annie, a post like this may have little appeal to anyone outside the area but I think the conservatory is a great community resource. There is so much to see and do both in the conservatory and the gardens outside. The neighborhood surrounding Garfield park has many community gardens growing both food and flowers. They can learn whatever they need through the programs and partnerships at Garfield.
Has any of your family been to the Chocolate Festival in February? Many local vendors give away loads of choclate samples and sell even more. The cocoa beans are harvested and attendees learn how cocoa is processed. Last year I manned a table about sugar also coming from plants. It was great fun.

19/4/08 2:08 PM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

I'll have to ask about the chocolate festival in other years - maybe they went and didn't tell me!

BTW, another Chicago-area blogger mentioned the Conservatory a couple of days after you did - Garden Girl...we Austin bloggers will be outnumbered by the Northern Illinois group pretty soon!


19/4/08 4:14 PM  

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