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Join the nation in honoring the legacy of Fredrick Law Olmsted on his 200th anniversary.



Kathleen Jones, March 26, 2022

Horticulture Meets History: The Design Principles of Frederick Law Olmsted

Before becoming America’s Father of Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted tried many vocations, all contributing to his success as the leader of the American Park Movement. His defined landscape design styles and principles continue to be used today.  Learn how his early experiences contributed to his success and how he incorporated consistent principles into his most prominent works.

This lecture and slide show was given at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden on March 26, 2022, by Des Moines Founders Garden Club member Kathleen Jones. The lecture about Olmsted follows a brief introduction about Garden Club of America and the Des Moines Founders Garden Club.

Justin Martin, March 29, 2022

Justin Martin Lecture ‘Frederick Law Olmsted: an Enduring Vision’

Author Justin Martin, ‘Genius of Place’: A Biography of Frederick Law Olmsted, speaks about one of the most influential historical American figures the average person knows least about.  Martin explores Olmsted’s early years, how he came to landscape architecture, and his relevance to modern times.

Martin’s lecture was presented on March 29, 2022, as part of Des Moines’s Olmsted 200 Week at the Waveland Golf Course Lodge.  Martin was previously a writer for Fortune and has been published in many newspapers and periodicals.  He has also authored several historical and biographical books.  Martin’s books are meticulously researched and written in a style akin to fiction. 


Kirk Brown, March 31, 2022

Kirk Brown Portrays Frederick Law Olmsted

Accomplished garden writer, horticulturist and actor Kirk Brown entertains and enlightens the audience with his portrayal of Frederick Law Olmsted.  ‘200 Years of Growing America’ is a dramatic presentation on the life of the Father of Landscape Architecture who created urban spaces for all people and began a conservation movement protecting our natural wonders that is still challenging the world today.

Mr. Brown’s program was held during Olmsted 200 Week, on March 31, 2022, at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, the first building constructed in Des Moines in accordance with the City Beautiful Movement that swept the country following the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  Olmsted not only designed the grounds for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago but succeeded in setting the tone of the sensational and inspirational ‘White City’.


Audio Recordings

Steve Nelson-Vaux, Historian

About Frederick Law Olmsted

Steven Nelson-Vaux is an Iowa treasure, a virtual encyclopedia of history, stories and the quick mind to connect many elements of the history he knows together. His knowledge of Greater Des Moines history is a marvelous resource to all who connect with him. His volunteer work with the Des Moines Parks & Recreation Department is exemplary, and he leverages that knowledge in a conversation about the Des Moines Founders Garden Club's programming Mar 26-Apr 1, 'Olmsted 200 - Parks for All People."

Des Moines Founders Garden Club

Kathleen Jones, Jane Flanagan, Loulou Kane

The Des Moines Founders Garden Club prepares for their exceptional contribution to the sweeping national "Olmsted 200 Week" - the celebration of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted. This innovator founded the concept of landscape architecture, with one of his first projects the designing and creation of New York City's Central Park. The DMFGC has planned a week of engaging programs featuring two national presenters. Events are free. Listen as committee co-chairs Kathleen Jones, Jane Flanagan, and Loulou Kane provide insights and enticements into these events at the end of March.

Justin Martin, Author

Genius Of Place The Life Of Frederick Law Olmsted

Respected historian and author Justin Martin shares an in-depth conversation about the subject of one of his books, Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted. Truly a Renaissance man of the 1800s, Olmsted was the flash point and inspiration for many things we take for granted today, especially when it comes to public parks, such as Central Park in NYC.

Kirk Brown, Actor

200 Years Of Growing America For DMFounders Garden Club

Kirk Brown is a preeminent portrayer of Frederick Law Olmsted, and entertains and educates audiences of business owners, garden clubs, and history lovers with his energetic and passionate, horticulturally-related presentations. His personification of Frederick Law Olmsted is electrifying.

Explore More

Explore the 2022 History Walks in Des Moines' oldest parks

Walk the trails in Des Moines' three oldest parks—Grandview, Union, and Greenwood—and learn about their early beginnings and stories.


Landscapes For The Public Good
at Water Works Park

Experience a special exhibition, which focuses on Olmsted’s life story, his major landscape commissions, and their relevance for contemporary society. Learn about Olmsted’s trailblazing philosophy about the natural world and how he shaped it for public benefit.

Olmsted 200 Week is presented by Des Moines Founders Garden Club in partnership with Des Moines Parks & Recreation, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, Des Moines Public Library, and Des Moines Water Works Park.