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Open Days this Sunday for Gardens in Lake Forest, Highland Park, and Winnetka

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Events, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program – June 23:

On Sunday, June 23rd, make plans to become inspired by five private gardens in Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Winnetka, opening to the public to benefit the Garden Conservancy, a national non-profit whose mission is to preserve exceptional American gardens across the country. Admission is $5 per garden and children 12 & under are free. No reservations needed, tours are self-guided, and are rain or shine. Visit www.opendaysprogram.org or call toll-free weekdays, 888-842-2442.

The two Lake Forest gardens are NOT TO BE MISSED. Incredible: one of them has a grape arbor said to date back to Frederick Law Olmsted. Visitors will see modern and classical sculpture within the landscapes, classical garden arches creating a passage through a parterre, enclosed garden rooms, a topiary garden, views of Lake Michigan, a garden designed by Rosemary Verey, colored waves of native plants, and the ancient precision of labyrinth geometry.
Fairlawn Arbor

2-CIMG6899

Additional area Open Days will take place on July 21 in Elburn and West Chicago; and July 28th in Lake Forest and Mettawa – mark your calendars!

Darrel Morrison and the “Native Flora Garden” in Brooklyn

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture, Public Gardens and Parks, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Congratulations to landscape architect Darrel Morrison, a friend to many designers here in Chicago who have known him since he taught at the University of WI Madison, for a wonderful article about his new native-to-NY-area garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [BBG]. Read the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/garden/native-flora-garden-opens-at-brooklyn-botanic-garden.html?pagewanted=all

Darrel was starting this garden when I had the opportunity to visit our daughter, Danielle, in Manhattan in 2011. Darrel and I went to dinner and he told me about the fun of going with BBG Curator Uli Lorimer to discover rare plants at the pine barrens in New Jersey, for example. Taking seed from these plants and then assuring their success in Brooklyn meant engineering duplicate soils [isn’t that amazing?], a story broadly told in the article. Read more

A Few News Briefs…

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Conservation and Ecology, Gardeners & Designers, Historic Places, Landscape Architecture, Plants, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Having grown up in Weston, Connecticut, there are a few East Coast preferences that I will never shake. One is the New York Times. I read it assiduously. So from time to time I’ll post some news and/or links that gardeners, conservationists, environmentalists (yes there is a diff between conservationists and environmentalists), land use planners, and whoever else is reading this blog might be interested in. And please, comment or write a follow up article…this blog is not supposed to be just the Queen Bee sounding off. It is here to exchange information, questions, and great commentary (emphasis on “great”).

Here are some snippets:

  • Sally Jewell is the new 51st Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Who, you ask? Sally Jewell, 57 (young!) former CEO of REI, an outfitting store that is hard not to like. Jewell has no political experience, but she is a mountain climber so that bodes well for running an agency in Washington DC with 70,000 (!) employees, an $11B budget, and stewardship of 20% of the land in the U.S.. Why are you, a mere backyard gardener or landscape professional, interested in Interior? Because the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2012 designated the country’s newest National Wildlife Refuge, called “Hackmatack”, in McHenry County and overlapping towards Lake Geneva, WI.. You are also interested because Interior administers the Endangered Species Act (thanks to Tricky Dick Nixon, 1973). Also, Interior regulates the private leasing of our national lands for oil wells and the like (pipelines). And it sells Duck Stamps (thanks to Herbert Hoover, 1929) to duck hunters, which raised $700 million for wetland conservation in 2013. Interior makes a difference in each of our lives.
  • Columbus, Indiana, is an “unlikely trove of midcentury modernism”. Oh, how I want to make a road trip here and see not only 70 examples of great architecture, but great landscape architecture. For example, you can tour the 1957 house designed by Eero Saarinaan and Kevin Roche [oooh, a fuchsia conversation pit!] but the gardens designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley. Alas, the Monet water lilies that was in this house was sold in 2008 for $40 million. Did any of you happen to purchase it?
  • A future post will cover the gardening impact of 400 ppm CO2 levels. We know we must plant trees and more trees, but should we be burying the dead ones instead of chipping, burning, or letting them lie on the ground to disintegrate? The latter options are ways to accelerate the release of more carbon. What do you think?

Anywho, this NYTimes article explains that average worldwide warming has now been proved to be 5 degrees, warmer over land (such as Chicago) and even higher at the Poles (15 degrees). Actually, a 2008 article about weeds loving CO2 (REQUIRED READING!) says that the average city condition NOW compared to the suburban temperature is exactly what is predicted worldwide…. This is what I know. There is no question that Santa is shaving his beard cause he’s too hot: the NYTimes reports that in 2010, only four ships carrying 110,000 tons of cargo made the northern passage between Asia and Europe. In 2012, 46 did, carrying 1.3 million tons. Less ice? Scary.##

 

 

 

 

The Charles Dawes Mansion: A Landscape Designed by O.C. Simonds for a Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Posted on by weedpatchgazette in Gardeners & Designers, Landscape Architecture | 2 Comments

In 1911, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gates Dawes asked Ossian Cole [O.C.] Simonds to design a landscape for their new home at the corner of Greenwood Street and Sheridan Road in Evanston, Illinois. The couple, along with their twenty year old son, Rufus, moved into the mansion in 1909.

East Facade of the Dawes Mansion
The East Facade of the Dawes Mansion

Mr. Dawes was an important banker, president of the Central Trust Company of Illinois. He also spent time in this nation’s capitol when called by President William McKinley to become Comptroller of the Currency. Dawes did much to reform banking after the devastating Panic of 1893. He ran for Illinois Senator in 1902, but lost. Experts believe that Theodore Roosevelt, who became President following the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, pragmatically sided with Illinois’ “Old Guard” Republicans against “reformers” like Mr. Dawes, who disliked the machine politics of Cook County.

Dawes Mansion

Dawes Mansion, Evanston, IL (1915)

The Dawes’ residence (now the home of the Evanston History Center] sits high on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. It was designed in the French chateau style by architect Henry Edwards-Ficken of New York for Northwestern University’s treasurer and business manager, Robert Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard bought this beautifully-sited property in 1882, but the house was built in 1894-96, just after the World’s Columbian Exhibition of 1893. The Sheppards were unable to keep the house after a financial scandal (it appears that he took out a loan for Northwestern University but put only his name on the real documents) whereupon the Dawes’ bought it. Thus, it had little landscape. Mr. and Mrs. Dawes preferred a naturalistic style of design, although they asked for a terrace for entertaining. While the residence’s front door faces south, the east facade faces Sheridan Road and just beyond that, Lake Michigan. The views of the lake are lovely, particularly from the second floor bedrooms.

  • Dawes Mansion
    Dawes Mansion, Evanston, IL (1915)

Simonds’ plan for the landscape created small views through the trees to Lake Michigan and asymmetrical masses of shrubs at the base of the house to reduce its immensity. The plan created an important sense of arrival in the south-facing front yard by planting elms along the front walk. The main perimeter of the two acre property was enclosed with a privet hedge and groves of spruce, ash, elms, sugar maples and evergreens that allowed pedestrians to glimpse the house but which assured the privacy of its occupants.

Simonds added a wild garden with oak, elm and snowberry on the north side, east of the stables. The east slope of the terrace features hawthorn, honeysuckle, barberry, roses, and Japanese lilac, and along the foundation are forsythia, roses and hydrangea. It appears that Simonds was trying to marry French formality and American informality.

Today the landscape has deteriorated but its “bones” are intact. Some years ago, a group of students, led by landscape architect Barbara Geiger, who is also Simonds’ biographer, created a historic survey and restoration plan. We hope that a sponsor (Evanston Garden Club are you reading this?) comes forward to restore this iconic landscape architect’s vision.##