Jens Jensen was a well known, successful landscape architect then he designed the grounds of Thorndale Manor in 1916. He was responsible for many estates and public parks in the Midwest including several in Lake Forest.
Called by his friend, Frank Lloyd Wright, "Nature's Poet", this Danish immigrant created totally American inspired gardens. Always preserving a sense of the plains and prairies, he used indigenous trees and shrubs only, all native plants and flowers. Reflecting the direction of Impressionist painters, Jensen was sensitive to light and shadow and the contrasts of sun and shade. This is evident in the placement of trees on the meadow lawn at Thorndale Manor. He frequently made use of rock walls, ponds and waterfalls, imaging the bluffs and ravines of Lake Michigan.
An ardent conservationist, Chicago has more wild land than any other large U. S. city as a result of Jens Jensen's work with the city. He founded the Clearings (school) in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin for the study of art and nature. The school is still open, holding week-long as well as weekend seminars.