Poinsettias, trains part of flower shows

December 1, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Snow fell outside as the holiday flower show -- and its 1,500 poinsettias -- blossomed inside at Garfield Park Conservatory. The plant was discovered in Central America in 1828- and it's still hard to tame.

"They are actually more of a kind of a wild looking plant and with the proper fertilization and the manicuring and pruning we get them to look like they are now," Matthew Barrett, Garfield Park Conservatory, said.

The red leaves, called bracts, that signal the holidays are not the plant's flower. In fact, those red bracts conceal the flower inside.

"The bracts... and on the inside of those bracts is the poinsettia flower which is really small and insignificant. So the plant is not really grown for its flower. It's grown for its bracts, the leaves," Barrett said.

The poinsettias on display now got their start in the Garfield Park Conservatory grow house in May.

While red steals the show at Garfield Park, it's a multitude of colorful poinsettias at Lincoln Park Conservatory.

"The difference is they have a red flower show, red Poinsettias. And we have pink, maroon and white," said Rose Bilas, Lincoln Park Conservatory. "And trains."

Three model trains chug through poinsettia pines and forests of flowers. "The little children. Their eyes sparkle when they see the trains. It's just a beautiful place to be," Bilas said.

The free shows run through January 9.

Garfield Park Conservatory
Daily Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Wednesdays: 9 am - 8 pm
300 N. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624-1996
(312) 746-5100

Lincoln Park Conservatory
2391 N Stockton Drive
(between Fullerton Ave and Webster Ave)
Chicago, IL 60614

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