The Indiana Insider Blog

You Have to See This Tropical Oasis in… Central Indiana?


The front entrance.

The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Garden sits nestled in Indy’s near southside. For those wishing to escape into a tropical oasis, or retreat into the beauty of a formal garden this spring and summer, a trip to Garfield Park should be top on your to-do list.

A view from inside.

A view from inside.

The 10,000 square foot conservatory features hundreds of different tropical plants, offers numerous programs throughout the year, and sells a variety of plants to bring a bit of the tropics home with you.

The Sunken Gardens

Tulips in Bloom at the Sunken Gardens

Garfield Park itself is the oldest city park in Indianapolis (University Park and Military Park are owned by the state) and developed throughout the 19th century. In 1908, Indianapolis hired the German-born landscape architect George Kessler to modernize the landscape. Kessler’s designs culminated with the Sunken Gardens, which were finished in 1916.

George Kessler

George Kessler

Kessler also built the first conservatory in 1915. However, by the 1950s, the conservatory had become so dilapidated that a new structure was built of aluminum and glass, the first of its kind in the United States.

A genuinely tropical oasis.

A genuinely tropical oasis.

After additional renovations in the 1990s, Indy Parks programmed the Conservatory with tropical plants “including palms, orchids, ferns, cacao, vanilla, bananas and coffee.”  Bromeliads (pineapple), mahogany trees, and a sacred fig ‘Bodhi’ tree exist as well, interspersed with fantastically colored flowers everywhere one looks.

The Watefall

The Waterfall

The Conservatory generally features a rainforest theme, with a large waterfall, a koi pond, and some resident reptiles and amphibians.

Formal Gardens

Formal Gardens

The formal gardens to the west of the conservatory feature enormous beds of tulips in early spring, and a variety of annuals in late spring, summer, and fall. The fountains sit just below the Conservatory and are arguably, the center of the entire formal garden.

Tropical Flower

Tropical Flower

Garfield Park Conservatory offers activities year round, making it an ideal retreat not just in spring and summer, but also to escape the cold winter months.

From the orchid show.

From the orchid show.

2017 Spring Events Include a Series of Exciting Programs

ORCHID SHOW: April 22 – 23
Orchid show featuring many varieties from the Midwest. The Central Indiana Orchid Society sponsors the event. Event is $4 per person and $10 per family.

The Conservatory offers free admission from 1-5pm on Sunday, April 30.

Master gardeners from the Indy area will be on hand selling plants and providing advice for those new to gardening from 9am – noon.

BONSAI SHOW: June 3 – 4
The Indianapolis Bonsai Club will showcase their amazing collection and answer questions about the unique plant. Cost is $4 per person and $10 per family.

Tropical of many.

Tropical Flower…one of many.

The Conservatory also offers a series of spring and summer programs for the whole family, but make sure you register in advance by calling 317.327.7275, or visiting For a full list of all programs this year, visit the Indy Parks website for full details.



The Garfield Conservatory and Sunken Gardens is located at:
2205 Conservatory Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46203


General Admission: $2/person
Show Admission: $4/person or $10/family

Conservatory Hours
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sunday: 1 – 5pm

Sunken Gardens Hours
October 15 through April 15: closes at 5pm
April 16 through May 15: closes at 9pm
May 16 through October 14: closes at 10pm

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