By William H. Tishler
Jens Jensen (1860–1951) was one of America’s most distinguished landscape architects and a pioneering conservationist. During his long and productive career, this Danish-born visionary worked for and with some of the country’s most prominent citizens and architects, including Henry Ford, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright. He became internationally renowned for his design of landscapes throughout the Midwest and beyond, his contributions to the American conservation movement, and his design philosophy that emphasized the significance of nature in people’s lives. He found inspiration in the landscape, particularly the plants native to a region, and was an environmentalist long before the term became popular.
Today, Jensen is perhaps best remembered for establishing The Clearing on Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula. But the outspoken views in his writings—many of which were included in ephemeral planning reports, early newspapers, and now out-of-print journals—are virtually forgotten, with the exception of his two small books. Jens Jensen: Writings Inspired by Nature is an anthology of Jensen’s most significant yet lesser-known articles, including a Saturday Evening Post piece that enabled him to reach the largest audience of his publishing career. The scope of Jensen’s thoughts represented in this collection will further solidify his legacy and rightful place alongside conservation leaders such as John Muir and Aldo Leopold.