>The Arboretum signs have recently been moved and repainted by volunteers. Submitted photo

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The Ladd Arboretum is having a party from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on June 15. Everyone is invited to bring their reusable water bottles and refill them with fresh Evanston water, sample the display of healthy nibbles, enjoy the woodlands and compare notes with walkers, birders and plant enthusiasts.

The Arboretum is located south of McCormick Boulevard between Green Bay Road and Emerson Street. Recently, volunteers and park staff have moved and repainted the Arboretum signs so they can be seen from passing cars. Also, planted under each sign are plants that look good, last long and do not need constant care. Plants for shade are under the sign at Green Bay Road; plants for sun at Emerson.

The Arboretum area had its beginnings more than 100 years ago, when a channel was dug to move sewage away from Lake Michigan. The Arboretum was born when Edward Ladd, publisher of The Evanston Review, died in 1956. His friends wanted to honor him with a park. They looked around Evanston and finally decided to do something with the bare bank of the channel where temporary housing built after World War II was being removed. The City signed a lease from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the first tree, a gingko, was planted in 1959.

The Ladd Arboretum was formally dedicated on June 19, 1960. On Jan. 26, 1961, the Rotary Club of Evanston voted to create an International Friendship Garden on the site; they ordered and planted 120 trees, each representing one of the nations in Rotary at that time. A flower garden in the shape of the Rotary emblem – a wheel – was added at the east end. The City of Evanston contributed $10,000.

Ladd Arboretum volunteers created the Evanston Environmental Association to support educational programs and, in 1974, raised money to build the Evanston Ecology Center. A major addition was added in 2001.

The Evanston Channel Trail, a measured-distance walking, running, and biking trail, has just been finished. Its creation began one morning when children from Bessie Rhodes grade school measured and marked the distance from the Rotary Garden to Independence Knoll.

The Ladd Arboretum is a place of peace, beauty and great educational value. It is a perfect spot to visit year-round. Hundreds of people each day walk their dogs, ride their bikes, smell the flowers, or just sit on a bench, reading a book or talking with friends.

The Ladd Arboretum is a great example of what can be accomplished when citizens and their city work together. Everyone should come and enjoy the party at
the Ladd Arboretum on June 15.