Mar 21 2024

News from Kruse: March 2024

Filed under Kruse House

A Hint of the Master: Jens Jensen and the Kruse House Garden
By Keith Letsche

Black & White Photo of Jens Jensen seated in one of his council rings.

Jens Jensen seated in one of his council rings


You may have wondered where the ideas for the distinctive rock terraces and pond came from that you see in the Kruse House Garden. The source of these is likely the master landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951). Born in Denmark, Jensen emigrated to Chicago in 1884, where he took employment with the city’s West Park Commission, working his way up from laborer to general superintendent of the West Park system. During this time, he designed or redesigned the system’s major parks like Humbolt, Garfield, and Douglass Parks, and his masterpiece, Columbus Park. In 1920, he started his own landscape architectural practice, creating gardens for prominent client’ s like Henry Ford and Ford’s son Edsel.

Jensen used natural features of the Midwestern landscape as themes for his designs. Terraced tiers of rocks were intended to invoke the rocky outcroppings of the Midwest’s post-glacial landscape.  Often the focal point of his rocked terraces was a small grotto that featured a pond or a “council ring,” a circular arrangement of rocks for sitting. At the height of his influence in the 1920s and 1930s, his designs inspired much imitation, and the large size and natural contours of the Kruse House lot provided a perfect opportunity for the Kruses to realize what then a very contemporary garden design based on Jensen’s ideas. Compare the Kruse House lily pond below with the one next to it that Jensen designed for Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate in Gross Point, Michigan.

Photo of the pond in the Kruse Garden. It is surrounded by rocks and natural greenery.

Kruse House Lily Pond

Photo of rocky pond

Grotto pond at Fair Lane, Henry Ford’s estate in Grosse Point. Michigan

Feb 15 2024

February 22nd Meeting: Backyard Birds and Bird Feeding

Filed under Meetings

By Ruth Kyme

Our February speaker is David Brooks, a professional naturalist with the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg. In his program, Backyard Birds and Bird Feeding, we will learn the “how to” of attracting a variety of birds to our property through properly maintained feeding stations and plantings that offer both food and shelter. The program will also include a who’s-who of common local birds and some of the migrating birds to be observed in the spring and fall.

Meeting Location: St Andrew Lutheran Church (NE Corner of Prince Crossing & Geneva Road.)

Meeting Time:

  • 6:45PM Arrive & Mingle
  • 7:00PM Business Meeting
  • 7:15PM Program

Feb 15 2024

News from Kruse: February 2024

Filed under Kruse House

By Barbara Darrah

Photo of yellow Winter Aconite with brown leaves and rocks.January was a long dark month this year. There wasn’t even enough sunlight to cause the snow to glisten. For the first time, our solar panels generated no electricity, and the extended subzero temperatures  knocked out the heat in our greenhouse. So, it was with excitement and delight one early February morning that I discovered the dancing yellow petals of the winter aconites in our front yard. Nothing beats these early reminders of spring as winter slowly begins to fade away.

Thus it was that I decided to make a journey to the Kruse garden to see the place where I first encountered these gentle reminders of spring’s renewal. Much to my disappointment, I couldn’t find any sign of them there. Don’t get me wrong; the garden still had the quiet beauty of winter’s simplicity. The unique shapes of the trees and the bushes stood out and the little frog prince by the pond gazed longingly for just a murmur of green.

At this time of year, we can feel winter’s dull and gray grasp beginning to weaken. There is a bit more sun, a few hints of green and the hidden secrets of new life shyly begin to appear. The lethargy that comes from winter’s darkness starts to lessen and new projects come to mind. I expect that the aconites will come back at Kruse, perhaps even a snowdrop or two, and in my mind the garden will begin to grow again.

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