Photo by Mary Ann Grumman

The Grosse Pointe Wildflower Trail Garden at Lighthouse Park

{Planted 1937}

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The Grosse Pointe Lighthouse stands on a projection of land which was given its name by the 17th century French fur traders, when Pottawattomi roaded the area. In 1673, Marquette and Joliet canoed past the point with their voyaguers on their way east following their exploration of the Mississippi, and Marquette may well have camped here when he returned in December of the following year. The first white man to settle in Evanston built his camping on these grounds in 1826.

As shipping increased on Lake Michigan, there were several wrecks on the treacherous offshore shoals, prodding the United States government into building the lighthouse, completed in 1873, along with the accompanying duplex for its keeprs, who kept the oil lamp lighted day and night. The light is automatic now and the double house is coocpied by the Superintendent of the Lighthouse Park District, which maintains the park, and by the Nature Center of the Evanston Environmental Association.

In 1937, the Park Board gave permission for the plainting of a wildflower trail to the Garden Club of Evanston, who hired the well-known landscape architect, Jens Jensen, to draw the plans. Native herbs, which had been used for medicinal purposes by the indians, were preserved. Tress already here were black oaks, honey locusts, basswood, sugar and silver maples, black cherries, and American elms. Mr. Jensen's plans added pin oaks, cut-leaf maples, weeping birches, wild crabapples, and wild cherries, as well as witch hazel bushes. The first planting included eight varieties of violets native to Evanston, a fern collection, and hundreds of wild plants, many of them from places about to be destroyed by highway or residential development, or from the gardens of generous club members. Plantings were designed to give the appearance of a natural woodland, except that each species was grouped in a mass to make a better show with the taller plants placed to the outside of the borders and the shorter plants toward the path. A fountain was installed west of the picnic shelter at the south side. Later, a garden seat was added.

Dr. Margery Carlson, retired Professor of Botany at Northwestern University and honorary garden club member, brought her energy and know-how to the chairmanship of the Nature Trail in 1960. At that time, much restoration work needed to be done. New plants were purchased. Dr. Carlson, a willing teacher, made the garden a learning experience.

Under her direction, her committee members became knowledgeable about the quirks of Jack-in-the-pulpit, Solomon's seal, and Bishop's cap. When dr. Carlson stepped down from her chairmanship in 1979, Mrs. Charles Bronson, a committee member, stepped into her gardening shoes. Under her able direction, the work and beauty continued. In the ensuing years up until the present time, the Garden Club of Evanston members have worked diligently maitaining the Wildflower Trail Garden.

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Flowers and Ferns growing at The Grosse Pointe Wildfower Trail Garden

  • Bellwort - Uvularia grandiflora
  • Bishop's Cap - Mitella diphylla
  • Black snakeroot - Cimicifuga racemosa
  • Bloodroot - Sanguinaria candensis
  • Blue lobelia - Lobelia siphilitica
  • Blue cohos - Caulophyllum thalictroides
  • Buttercup - Ranunculus spetentroinalis
  • Canada violet - Viola canadensis
  • Carrion flower - Smilax herbacea
  • Celandine poppy - stylophorum diphyllum
  • Cow parsnip - Heracleum lanatum
  • Crested iris - Iris cristata
  • Dogtooth violet, white - Erythroium americanum
  • Dogtooth violet, yellow - Erythorium americanum
  • Dutchman's breeches - Dicentra cullaria
  • Early meadow rue - Thalictrum dioicum
  • False bug bane - Trautvetteria caroline
  • False rue anenome - Isopyrum biternatum
  • Hepatica - Hepatica americana
  • Jack-in-the-pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum
  • Joe Pye weed - Eupatorium maculatum
  • May-Apple - Podophyllum peltatum
  • Rue anenome - Anemonella thalictroides
  • Shoy lady-slipper - Cypripedium reginae
  • Smooth yellow violet - Viola pensylvanica
  • Solomon's seal false - Smilacina racemosa
  • Solomon's seal, true - Polygonatum biflorum
  • Spring beauty - Claytonia virginica
  • Sweet-cicely - Osmorhiza longistylis
  • Toothwort - Dentaria laciniata
  • Trillium, dwarf white - Trillum nivale
  • Trillium, great - Trillium grandiflorum
  • Trillium, recurved - Trillium recurvatum
  • Twin leaf - Jeffersonia diphylla
  • Virginia blue bells - Mertensia virginica
  • Waterleaf - Hydrophyllum virginianum
  • White baneberry - Actea pachypoda
  • White snakeroot - Eupatorium rugosum
  • Wild geranium - Geranium maculatum
  • Wild ginger - Asarum canadense
  • Wild ginger - European Asarum virginicum

Ferns

  • Bladder fern - Cystopteeris bulbifera
  • Christmas fern - Polystichum acrostichoides
  • Everygreen wood fern - Dryoteris marginalis
  • Fragile fern - Cystopteria fragilis
  • Interrupted fern - Osumnda Claytoniania
  • Lady fern - Athyrium Felix-fernia
  • Maidenhari fern - Matteuccia Struthioteris
  • Royal fern - Osmuda regalis
  • Sensitive fern - Onoclea sensibilis