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Parks, Plants and People – The Impact of Jens Jensen in Evanston

June 25th, 2022 @ 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM


Join The Evanston Public Library, Jens Jensen Gardens, and the Evanston Garden Club on Saturday, 6/25 for Jens Jensen Day ’22, a celebration of the rich native plant and gardening history of Evanston.

The program will focus on three influential Evanstonians: Anna Rew Gross, Donn Werling, and Margery Taylor Carlson, and will include presentations at the library followed by a tour of the Lighthouse Beach gardens.

Gross, Werling and Carlson were all influenced by the work of famed Danish-American landscape architect, Jens Jensen, whose design work can be seen in both the city of Chicago (Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, and Douglass Park among others) and in Evanston. Jensen’s most notable design in Evanston was the Shakespeare Garden (the first of its kind in the United States) on the grounds of Northwestern University and the Wildflower Trail on the grounds of the Grosse Point Lighthouse. Both were commissioned by the Garden Club of Evanston. His largest and most ambitious landscape in Evanston was the 4.7 acre landscape designed in 1927 for the Harley Clarke mansion, located at 2603 Sheridan Road.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Donn Werling, was the first and only person with the official title of City of Evanston Naturalist. He also served as Director of the Ladd Arboretum, Evanston Ecology Center, and the Lighthouse Nature Center from 1973 – 1982. He is now retired from the University of Michigan where for 19 years he served as Director of the Henry Ford Estate, one of Jensen’s largest and most recognized works. Donn is also advisor to Jens Jensen Gardens in Evanston.

In 1915 a friendship between Anne Rew Gross (1864 – 1946) and Jens Jensen (1860-1951) grew into a professional relationship that changed the focus of residential plantings from nonnative plants species to designs centered around the use of native plants. In May 1916 the first plant sale was held in Raymond Park and has continued to be an annual event to this day.

Margery Carlson (1892 – 1985), an early member of the Garden Club of Evanston and the first full time woman faculty member of Northwestern University, was another influential Evanstonian who will be celebrated. She traveled throughout the world collecting botanical samples (some of which are still archived at the Field Museum), organized Victory Gardens, and was one of the founders of the Ladd Arboretum. Her legacy continues to enrich our lives today.

The Program will begin at 10:00 AM in the community room of the main branch of the Evanston Public library. There will be a lunch break from 12:00-1:00 and at 1:15 on site participants will travel by bus to Lighthouse Park where the program will continue with more discussion and Q&A with Donn Werling. Tours of the landscape rehabilitation work underway, native plant demonstration garden, Alfred Caldwell Stonework, and waterfall will be offered. Members of the Garden Club of Evanston will be on site to conduct guided tours of the historic Lighthouse wildflower walk (designed by Jensen in 1937). Light refreshments will be provided.

Further information can be obtained by emailing or on the website

Please note the morning program will be both in person at the library and also on Zoom. The Zoom link will be sent to registered participants the day before.


June 25th, 2022
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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Evanston Public Library

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