Oak Park, IL
The Elsie Jacobsen Discovery Garden at the Oak Park Conservatory
creates a space that invites both children and adults to explore nature in all
seasons. It contains nooks and paths with opportunities to observe, touch and
interact with plants and natural materials, through self-guided activities and
facilitated programs. A water feature powered by an interactive pump travels
the length of the garden from North to South. The garden also has comfortable
places to sit and relax. Plant selections demonstrate the many varieties native
and adapted to northern Illinois.
Altamanu Inc carefully considered all of these amenities in order to
feature sensory experiences organized around two big ideas: plants have
different characteristics and all life needs water. These ideas are simple
observations but have layers of complexity that can be explored through
self-guided or facilitated activities. Plant life is characterized and
compartmentalized in the garden as Flowering/Exotic, Aquatic, Xeriscape and
Forest/Woodland. Water is expressed through the moving water feature and a
managed stormwater solution that involves the depressed water garden, rain
gardens and bioswales along the parkway.
of the Elsie Jacobsen Discovery Garden in 2015 fulfilled a long-held strategic
goal of the Friends of the Conservatory to collaborate with the Park District
on an outdoor education/demonstration garden.