Simplicity with Grace: The Wilder Park Conservatory Restoration Story

After a long winter, staff is excited to finish the last leg of the Wilder Park Conservatory Project - the landscaping.  One of the basic principles of landscape architecture is for the landscape to accentuate the building like a picture frame and not draw attention away from the masterpiece.  This specific landscape principle will be applied to the surroundings of the historic Wilder Park Conservatory, resulting in Simplicity with Grace.  The landscaping is expected to hit completion by Friday, April 18.

Several site issues had to be addressed with regard to views, maintenance, and budget.  When driving into Wilder Park from the southwest, one of the first landmarks is the white-trimmed Wilder Park Conservatory, restored to its historic splendor.  The landscape frames the building with simplicity, seasonal interest, and the sophistication of a bygone era.  Blossoms frame the Conservatory from early spring through autumn along with native Prairie Drop seed grass, symbolizing Elmhurst's past.  The two upright Japanese Yews continue the existing theme created by the surrounding pines and spruces and complement the mirror architecture of the building.  Evergreen trees and shrubs provide contrasting interest during the winter season.

Strolling down the north walk to the "Link" (the receiving area connecting the Conservatory and greenhouse), the holding area is screened from view by an attractive wooden fence.  A park bench donated by the Elmhurst Garden Club accents the south Link entrance.  Lawn edging of paving brick reduces sod maintenance along the edge of the building while providing a porous environment for rainwater to dissipate into the surrounding soils.  A brick paver path from the Wilder Park Formal Gardens is extended to meet the Conservatory walkway, tying the two realms together.

Due to construction, the Arborvitae screen was removed and will be replaced by an attractive butterfly garden containing both native and lush, ornamental flowers blossoming throughout the growing season, attracting and helping to enhance the butterfly population.  A stand of stately Dawn Redwoods and Canadian hemlock will provide a privacy screen, separating the support building and the intimate setting of the formal Wedding Garden.