I am one of those crazy people who just keep buying new plant when there really isn’t any room for the ones I already have. What can I say, I like plants. It’s fun to watch them grow and they can make even dumpy surroundings look nice when they’re well cared for. I grew up with parents who always had gardens and a nicely landscaped yard, but I think part of my plant obsession stems from the Gethsemane Garden Center.
This place is ridiculously cool for people who like plants and still impressive for those who just sort of tolerate plants. Taking up a few blocks on the north side of Andersonville, this garden center has quickly become my favorite place to buy plants, planting supplies and to just wander around for hours.
The primary draw for me at Gethsemane is their greenhouse. It houses an amazing selection of orchids, succulents, cacti, ferns and tropical plants. Everything is arranged beautifully and by plant type so you won’t have any trouble finding what you’re looking for. I also love peeking in on the birds that call the greenhouse home, Lucy and Leakey (great anthropological names), as they are super cute and are always singing and bouncing around. Inside the greenhouse is also a wide selection of nice pottery for indoor plants and all the supplies you could need to get started.
Just off the greenhouse is the Wild Pansy (someone clearly was an anthropology major) Garden Shop where you can pick up specialty gifts and home decor. While some of it is pretty expensive (ok, most of it) it’s still worth a look if you have the time. They carry all kinds of beautiful glassware for indoors and outdoors and some pretty amazing seasonal decor. Their displays at Christmas are worth visiting, even if you don’t need anything at all and just want to get in the spirit.
Aside from the main buildings, Gethsemane has several large lots that stock their wide selection of flowers, herbs, veggies, bushes and trees. It’s arranged in a way that you can just sort of browse if you’d like, especially though the larger plants and fountains, or find what you need with a little help from staff. Visiting there recently I was wowed by the amount of beautiful flowers in bloom outdoors and they always seem to have arrangements set up of the most lovely seasonal plants.
This place is far from being run of the mill when it comes to selection and service. They carry many plants that you aren’t likely to see at Home Depot anytime soon (giant bonsai, check. rare orchids, check) and are always more than willing to answer any of your questions on when and where to plant your selections or even to help you pick out plants that would work best for your needs. I’ve never had a problem with service at this store and more than once people have gone out of their way to help me and provide me with instructions. Additionally, they host open houses a few times a year that sometimes feature guest speakers. Most recently a cacti and succulent expert who works with Martha Stewart was there speaking. Pretty cool if you want to learn more about plants, and not something the average garden center offers.
Many of the people running the store have pretty strong backgrounds in plants including a former employee at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a Northwestern professor of Landscape Design, a naturalist, and a professional florist to name a few. Their expertise is something you can see reflected in the quality of plants they provide and the awesome service you can get as a customer who may or may not know much about plants.
Gethsemane is located at 5739 N. Clark St. is open from 9-5 Mon-Fri (9-8 in the summer) and 9-6 Sat and Sun. There is a parking lot, but if you’re there on a busy weekend you’ll likely need to pay for street parking unless you want to wait Check out their website here.