On the road between Cedar Falls and Decorah, Iowa last May
After running off 30 Christmas cards yesterday, we found it hard to stop and churned out this oner for the nephew's birthday. He professes philosophy in northeastern Iowa and tied the knot there last summer . . . We motored out for the wedding in a rented Lincoln Towncar, and this was one of the shots in the rearview mirror en route between our motel and his college, where they're carrying out a restoration of the campus designed in the early years of the twentieth century by the renowned heartland landscape architect Jens Jensen. Jensen designed a number of important midwestern public landscapes and private estates for Henry and Edsel Ford among others. A snippet from the Jens Jenson Legacy Project website:
Everywhere he championed his core conviction: people must have some contact with the "living green" -- flowers and plants native to their home. To Jensen, landscape architecture was not just a profession, nor was the use of native plants just one style among many -- they expressed his near-mystical belief in the renewing and civilizing powers of nature. He was a reformer with his hands on a spade and his head in the clouds.
While we don't insist on native plants -- as our old mentor Peter Del Tredici, Senior Research Scientist at the Arnold Arboretum, always said, naturalized can be just as good or better as long as they don't become weedy and crowd out the natives -- we love the Jensen philosophy and are reminded of perhaps our all-time favorite quotation, from Henry David Thoreau:
The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him.