The Jens Jensen Gardens at the Harley Clarke Mansion was abuzz with activity Friday afternoon as several local residents planted trees on a site near the garden’s fountain.  

The effort was organized and led by Charles Smith, a landscaping designer and president of the Jens Jensen Gardens organization in Evanston.

ZS Associates, a business consulting firm located in Evanston, also sent personnel who joined with other volunteers, some affiliated with Evanston organizations concerned with horticultural and environmental issues.

Jens Jensen was an American landscape architect of the early twentieth century who designed many parks and green spaces in Chicago and the North Shore region, using a distinctive holistic approach. 

The city of Evanston granted the Jens Jensen Gardens organization temporary use of the Harley Clarke grounds (the mansion itself has been deserted for years), to make improvements to the gardens and hold educational activities there.

Smith took a break from digging and planting hemlock trees on a small ridge overlooking the fountain.  The area looks like a small grotto.

Charles Smith

He said the garden’s original design called for a backdrop of hemlock trees. The immediate goal in rebuilding this portion of the garden, he said, is to make sure it “is protected and preserved and made beautiful.”

Smith said it would “take a decade before (the trees) make an impression.”

To be effective, he says, a landscaper “must visualize the future,” adding that efforts done now to preserve natural landscapes ensure a legacy that will last much longer than the individuals currently championing those efforts. 

“If we don’t start now, it will never happen…we are doing this more for the generations that will follow us” he said.

Desiree Shannon relocated to Evanston in 2022 from Columbus, Ohio. She has a journalism degree from Otterbein College of Ohio. During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with the Washington...

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  1. It may take a decade before the trees make an impression, but the work being done will hopefully make an impression now. Thank you to everyone involved in this endeavor.

  2. Jens Jensen Gardens of Evanston and their leadership are civic treasures toiling to restore the gardens designed by a man who is a National treasure!
    Thank you Charles Smith and all your helpers!
    Respectfully submitted, Brian G. Becharas

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