Oak Park Conservatory

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.
Completion 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.