The warm relief of the Gethsemane Garden Center | Best of Chicago 2021 | Buy Local | Chicago Reader

The warm relief of the Gethsemane Garden Center

It was a bitter cold February day—the kind of day that Chicago is famous for, and the kind of day that makes lifelong residents wonder why they haven't broken down and moved to Miami—when I first explored Gethsemane Garden Center.

On this particularly brutal day, I met up with a friend to take a walk around Andersonville. In a pre-pandemic reality, we might have gotten lunch indoors or simply rescheduled, but the need for human interaction outweighed the frigid temperatures, and we weren't going to risk exposure to the virus to get it.

After trudging along the frozen ground for a few miles, she pointed us in the direction of Gethsemane. When we walked in, the heat of the greenhouse provided instant relief, but the gorgeous assortment of plants—bonsais, succulents, pots full of greens hanging from nearly every direction—floored me.

I'm something of a plant novice, with only a single succulent in my custody. But Gethsemane makes me want to empty my bank account and fill a car I don't have with everything I can fit under both arms. While I practiced restraint that day, I know I will be back soon to find a little beautiful something to brighten my apartment (which has also become my classroom and office).

There will probably be some cold days still before summer, but there is still beauty to be found even in the darkest Chicago winter; Gethsemane has enough beauty to go around until the next blizzard.

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