There is a treasure here in Evanston. It is named Ladd Arboretum. The name is in honor of Edward R. Ladd, a founder, publisher and editor of the Evanston Review. It is located between Green Bay Road on the northeast, the North Shore Channel on the east, Emerson Street on the southwest and McCormick Boulevard on the west. It is home to the Evanston Ecology Center, the Grady Bird Sanctuary and Rotary Friendship Garden.
The arboretum is a lovely place for walking, running, biking and cross-country skiing within a naturalized setting of trees, brush, hedges, flowers, ornamental grasses, knolls and small grassy meadows and winding pathways. It has a picturesque gazebo that could serve as an attractive setting for a small wedding ceremony. It is a wonderful place for relaxing, birding, photography and even observing wildlife. Deer, coyote, chipmunks, rabbits and beaver are occasionally sighted there, along with numerous bird species including ducks, herons, kingfishers, thrushes, warblers, wax-wings and woodpeckers.
It is getting a facelift in phases by the City of Evanston, with improved pathways, new plantings and distance markers for runners.
Centrally located in the arboretum at Bridge Street is the Evanston Ecology Center, with parking close by. The Ecology Center houses offices and very friendly staff who provide educational programs for children and adults and services including community garden rentals, bird seed sales (and rain barrels while supply lasts), recycling of CFL bulbs and some electronics, such as used holiday lights and discarded cell phones. The center also includes a large room with a stone fireplace and large windows and is available for meetings for organizations and small parties and receptions. A smaller room used for classes also hosts a few small animals that children find fascinating.
Each year the Ecology Center staff provide seasonal programs such as Earth Day/Arbor Day events, summer camps for youngsters, canoeing and winter holiday activities. The Ecology Center is also host to the Green Living Festival presented by the Evanston Environmental Association and the City of Evanston. Each of the three years that this event has occurred, it has increased in attendance and the number of participating organizations and vendors.
Those who have never walked or biked in the arboretum or visited the Ecology Center might enjoy exploring it and discovering the sights of nature during the different seasons and the facilities and programs that await participants of all ages throughout the year.