RoundTable photo

Members of the Rotary Club of Evanston rededicated the club’s International Friendship Garden in a ceremony on July 23. The garden is in Ladd Arboretum, which is west of the North Shore Channel and stretches between Green Bay Road and Emerson Street. At the ceremony, the club also unveiled a new sign for the garden to replace the one damaged earlier this year by winter weather.

Dick Peach, a former president of the Rotary Club, said Ladd Arboretum was named in honor of Edward R. Ladd, a charter member and second president of the Rotary Club of Evanston. After Mr. Ladd died in 1956, a group of his friends, six of whom were Rotary members, settled on the idea of converting the narrow strip of property along the canal into an arboretum.

During World War II, the entire area along the channel from Green Bay Road to Emerson Street was lined with two-story wooden U.S. Army barracks, which housed military and naval personnel who were studying at Northwestern University. Later these buildings were used by returning veterans and their families. The City of Evanston subsequently had the buildings torn down, leaving a desolate looking area – since only the concrete slabs remained. The development of an arboretum at the location began in 1957. The formal dedication of Ladd Arboretum took place on June 10, 1960.  

The Rotary Club of Evanston planned and built the International Friendship Garden in the early 1960s as a living symbol of goodwill toward all people of the earth. Over the years, 137 trees have been planted and dedicated to honor each of the countries represented by Rotary throughout the world, said Mr. Peach. One attractive feature of the garden is a large Rotary Wheel created by flowering plants. The garden is maintained through a partnership between the City and the Rotary Club.

 Rotary members “are hoping to get more people to enjoy the garden,” said Mr. Peach.

Wally Bobkiewicz, president of the Rotary Club and City Manager, said, “The Friendship Garden serves as a welcome map to every Rotary club in the world. … It’s a legacy that we leave for the Evanston community and it’s a legacy for the Rotary.”

The public is invited to enjoy the International Friendship Garden. It is located at the corner of McCormick Blvd. and Bridge Street in Evanston, just south of the Evanston Ecology Center. A free public parking lot is adjacent to the site.