On June 29, a day of programs will celebrate Jens Jensen, the famed landscape architect. Jensen dedicated his life to making the modern city livable by championing both the preservation of natural areas and equal access for all citizens. The Evanston Public Library will host the morning session, and Jens Jensen Evanston will host the afternoon session.

All events are open to the public; registration is available by calling 847-448-8620 or by visiting  https://evanston.libnet.info/event/2483971.

The morning session will consist of a screening of the award-winning documentary film, “Jens Jensen: The Living Green,” at 9:30 a.m., followed by commentary and remarks by Robert Grese, author of “Jens Jensen: Maker of National Parks and Gardens.”

Mr. Grese teaches landscape architecture at the University of Michigan School of Environment and Sustainability, Ann Arbor, and also serves as director of the Matthaei Botanic Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. His teaching and research involve ecologically based landscape design and management that respects the culture and natural history of a region. Mr. Grese is particularly interested in the restoration and ongoing management of urban wilds and the role such lands can play in reconnecting children and families with nature.  

The afternoon session will include a guided visit to three nearby Jensen sites. Bob Grese will provide a short orientation to the Shakespeare Garden at Northwestern University, Mahoney Park Wildflower and Bird Sanctuary in Kenilworth, and the Jens Jensen landscaping at the Harley Clarke mansion. After these visits there will be an informal gathering with Mr. Grese in the shelter house in Lawson Park to discuss the quality of the habitat and the wildlife experience in the Lighthouse Complex area. He will show how Mr. Jensen’s use of native plants provides a model for habitat restoration and residential landscape design. Local habitat experts will be invited.

Mr. Jensen’s legacy is found throughout the Chicago region – from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to the Indiana Dunes National Park. Two of his designs are located here in Evanston: the nation’s first Shakespeare Garden, on the Northwestern University campus, commissioned in 1916 by the Garden Club of Evanston; and the landscaping around the 1927 Harley Clarke mansion on the lakefront.