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Evanston is a green city committed to growing greener. The successful public plantings that have been developed over the years by the City and its citizens working together are full of good ideas.
Starting at the east end of Davis or Church streets, one can walk through Cornelia Lunt Park, with its remnant of the oak grove that made Northwestern University’s founders cry out, “This is the place.” Patriots Park boasts a memorial flagpole, Blue Star memorial marker and plantings designed to reduce mowing time.
Going north to the Northwestern University campus visitors can find free parking after 4 p.m. in the south end parking lot off Sheridan Road. This location offers a great view of the Chicago skyline and provides a starting point for walking the elegantly landscaped campus.
Farther north on Sheridan Road is Garrett Place, with free two-hour parking from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. One can visit the charming Garrett Seminary Chapel garden and continue east to the entrance of the Shakespeare Garden. Designed by Jens Jensen, this garden was created in 1916 by the Garden Club of Evanston to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Many of the flowers Shakespeare mentioned in his works, along with accompanying quotations, are included.
Continuing north on Sheridan Road to Central Street, one can go west on Central to Stewart Avenue and explore the tiny Highland Garden Club Oasis. Going farther west on Central to Ewing Avenue, then south four blocks takes one to the Dwight Perkins Forest Preserve. Turning back east on Central to Green Bay Road and then south to McCormick Boulevard leads one to the Ladd Arboretum.
The arboretum, from Green Bay Road to Simpson Street, is an example of what Evanstonians have accomplished by working together. Bridge Street cuts the arboretum in two. On its east side is the Evanston Ecology Center. On the west is the International Friendship Garden, planted and maintained by the Rotary Club of Evanston. A block south on Bridge is the Hill Arboretum Apartments Garden, planted and maintained by the Highland Garden Club and filled with many ideas of what can be done with perennials in the shade.
South on Ridge to Lake Avenue and east to Oak Street is the award-winning Merrick Rose Garden. The huge collection of beautiful roses is planted and maintained entirely by Evanston Park staff.
Finally, for a delightful rest stop, one can go south on Ridge Avenue, west on Oakton Street, then south again on Dodge Avenue to the Levy Senior Center Courtyard. Sitting at one of the tables located under the shading vines, a visitor can admire the annuals and perennials in the courtyard’s elegant raised beds. In this relaxing place, it seems natural to go over the notes from a tour of the City and decide what to do to grow Evanston greener.