Last week, work was completed on the installation of a new, sustainable landscape at Glenbard West High School's Memorial Field in Glen Ellyn. I was thrilled to design the landscape for this project, not only because I knew that the new plantings would make a big difference in the look of the west side of the field, but also because of the historical significance of the location and the wonderful people I was lucky enough to work with along the way.
A Brief History
Village President Amos Churchill initiated the purchase of the land where Memorial Field and Memorial Park now sit from the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in 1895 with the intention to build a park and train depot. The theme of the park turns to honoring Civil War veterans, however, in 1911 when two cannons, a flag pole, and a cast iron horse trough were added.
A ball park was added after Glenbard West High School opened in 1923, and a rich tradition of sporting begins on the site, while veterans continued to be honored there. In 1927, the Glen Ellyn Women's Club has 170 crabapple trees planted in the creation of a Soldier's Pathway in the spirit of environmental conservation and to honor WWI vets. The trees have since died, but the memorial stone was found and returned to the site. In 2010, the Pathway was paved with concrete and dedicated concrete pavers and a state-of-the-art turf field was installed.
Back in early spring, 2012, I worked with a group of interested folks, including school staff, members of the community, and donors, to develop a number of goals that drove my design:
- To remain true to the original intentions of the Glen Ellyn Women's Club and other interested groups by continuing to honor our local veterans and promote environmental conservation;
- To add more spring and fall color;
- To soften the effects of the lights on neighbors; and
- To include low-maintenance and native plants.
With those goals in mind, I included native plants like serviceberry, switchgrass, prairie dropseed, black chokeberry, amsonia, and sumac. A large, diseased, berry-dropping mulberry tree in the circular patio cut-out was removed and replaced with an 'Accolade' Elm, developed locally by the Morton Arboretum. Improperly planted and dying crabapples were replaced. Dense evergreens and lilacs were added that will eventually minimize some of the light and noise. Lots of low-growing grasses were included to eliminate mowing and provide a long season of interest. Click here to continue and view pictures.