Since 2012, Nature’s Perspective has been developing a restorative garden and waterfall at Three Crowns Park, a senior community in northwest Evanston that has served its residents for over a century.
In the early spring of 2012, Ariel Schrodt, a new resident of Three Crowns Park, had a vision of creating a memorial garden for his late wife, Ellen. He wanted to recreate the pond that he and his wife had lovingly built together at their previous residence. He donated several tons of Chilton Limestone boulders that he had used to build his own pond.
Throughout the summer, the community at Three Crowns came together to raise funds by selling memorial pavers and other donor items. In late summer, the community’s fundraising goal was reached, and our design for a restorative water garden was selected.
The end of construction coincided with the fifth anniversary of Three Crowns’ 2007 facility expansion. Despite the cold and windy weather on October 29th, 2012, many made it outside for a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Restorative Garden Design Principles
Outdoor spaces of all sizes and settings are designed based on a set of principles. An outdoor area at a senior community must be easily navigable on paths of a smooth, hard material. It must also allow access, circulation, and full use by persons with disabilities. Beyond accessibility, these photos show other design principles that came into play in this design:
These photos show how the layout invites exploration. The path was designed with materials that replicate the colors of a forest floor. It winds through other garden elements to create hidden views.
The senses are brought alive in this space, especially during peak summer bloom. Many butterfly species can be observed making the garden their home.
A memorial garden can be the perfect place for quiet reflection. Three seating areas in the restorative garden provide safe, protected areas surrounded by lush plant life changing by the season. We can’t think of a better place to sit and enjoy nature.
Updates Since 2012
All landscapes are constantly in flux, even from one day to the next. Gardeners quickly learn to view these changes at opportunities for improvement. Here are some of the major changes made to the garden at Three Crowns Park in the last three years.
Shade Tree Replacement
The aging Norway Maple was nearing the end of its life due to girdling roots. It was decided to replace the shade tree with a more unique specimen. A State Street Miyabe Maple was chosen for its corky bark and reliable golden fall color. This tree was selected from the collections at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. It is known for its supreme urban tolerance and adaptability to clay soils.
Waterfall Basin Renovation
The local river gravel in the waterfall “pond” basin was replaced with more striking Mexican Beach Pebbles. These come from Baja California on the western coast of Mexico. The stones are polished due to wave action, and have an impressive color especially when wet.
Some of the original foundation plantings from 2005 remained on the southern end of the garden around McDaniel Courts. These tired Yews were removed in favor of expanding the perennial plantings around the entire eastern side of the building for a cohesive look. More Prairie Dropseed grasses were added to continue the mass, along with Blue Fortune Hyssop and Swamp Milkweeds for seasonal color.