The Clearing ~ A Dream of Jen Jensen, Landscape Architect

As a Midwestern lover of landscape architecture, I could not help but take the walking, story tour of the Jens Jensen inspired folk school called ‘The Clearing’, in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin

Jens Jensen was born near Dybbol in Denmark on September 13, 1860. He worked on his family’s farm until the war came to his country. After serving his mandatory military service and becoming engaged to Anne Marie Hansen, Jensen decided to immigrate to America. He landed in Florida, moved to Iowa and then Chicago, Illinois, where he took a job as a park laborer in 1888. He learned during his first opportunity to design a garden using native plants, after all of his exotic plants died. Later in his career, he formed the conservation movements that led to the creation of the Cook County Forest Preserve District, the Illinois State Park system, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore. After that, he went into private practice and designed landscapes for Henry Ford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Rosenwalds, Florsheims, Ryersons and the Beckers.

Fast forward to his retirement at age 75, Jensen purchased land in Door County, Wisconsin and achieved his longtime dream of establishing “The Clearing” whose mission is “to provide diverse educational experiences in the folk school tradition, in a setting of quiet forests, meadows and water.” The Clearing was to be a place where city people could renew their contact with nature.


The main house


Mertha Fulkerson was a close aide to Jens. This woven piece of art (Mertha’s talent), is dedicated to her 18 years of service to The Clearing.

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One of the classrooms    ||   The main sitting room of the house

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Jens had a one room shack that overlooked the lake. I would have totally lived there. One room, very little upkeep!

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He was adamant that facing west towards the setting sun was magical.  There were many nooks to sit facing west.


He believed in the circle. A circle of learning, dancing and conversation.

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If you’d like to see some of his original drawings, click here!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

43 thoughts on “The Clearing ~ A Dream of Jen Jensen, Landscape Architect

  1. I love that these magical places with beautiful views can still be found in our overcrowded, busy world. A step back in time and solace for the soul. Thanks for this one. 🙂


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