Bob Grese M.S.L.A.


M.S.L.A. Landscape Architecture, 1984, University of Wisconsin

B.L.A. Landscape Architecture, 1978, University of Georgia

Professor/Theodore Roosevelt Chair of Ecosystem Management

Bob Grese serves as Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. My teaching and research involve ecologically-based landscape design and management that respects the cultural and natural history of a region. I am particularly interested in the restoration and on-going management of urban wilds and the role such lands can play in re-connecting children and families with nature. I have long been fascinated by the work of early designers such as Jens Jensen and Ossian Cole Simonds who borrowed from the native landscape in their work. There is much to be learned about their designs and their fate over time. I have a growing interest in green roofs and other low impact design strategies.

Awards and Grants:
Theodore Roosevelt Chair of Ecosystem Management, 2013; Honorary Member, Garden Club of America; Honorary Director, Wild Ones (national); Advisor of the Year Award, Michigan Leadership Awards, University of Michigan, April 2006; "Bob Grese Deep Roots Award," 2002 by the Ann Arbor Chapter of the Wild Ones

Research Interests:
My research interests have included:

  • Restoration of urban wilds, especially prairie and oak savanna ecosystems at Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Social aspects of ecological restoration and volunteer stewardship programs and networks
  • Documenting the work of early designers such as Jens Jensen and O. C. Simonds who advocated for native vegetation and developed a strong regional emphasis in their work

Current/Recent Research:

  • Children’s nature play/children’s gardens

  • Cultural and natural history of Nichols Arboretum

  • History of ecologically-based design—work of Jens Jensen and O.C. Simonds

  • Prairie/oak savanna restoration

Teaching Interests:
My teaching emphasizes ecologically-based landscape design, ecological restoration, and community involvement.

Current/Recent Teaching:
Ecological Restoration; Place and Environment Design Studio

Selected Publications:

Grese, Robert E. 2015. “Engaging people in the design of landscapes.” Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing Out Our Best edited by Rachel Kaplan and Avik Basu. Ann Arbor: Maize Books (Michigan Publishing). Pp. 329-346.

Grese, Robert E. 2014. “Time and change in the landscapes of Jens Jensen.” History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes. 34:1 (January-March): 28-37.

Grese, Robert E. 2011. The Native Landscape Reader. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press in conjunction with the Library of American Landscape History.

Heslinga, Justin L. and Robert E. Grese. 2010. “Assessing Plant Community Changes Over Sixteen Years of Restoration in a Remnant Michigan Tallgrass Prairie,” American Midland Naturalist. 164: 2 (October): 322-336.

Grese, Robert E. 2010. “Trends in Botanical Gardens and Arboreta: Connecting Kids to Nature.”SITES:Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. (Spring) 5-7.

Grese, Robert E. and David Michener. 2006. “Ethics, Water Conservation, and Sustainable Gardens:,”Landscape Architecture. 96: 6, pp. 76, 78, 80, 82-85.

Grese, Robert E. and David Michener. 2005. “Ethics, Water Conservation, and Sustainable Gardens,”Public Garden. 20: 4 (2005): 16-19.

Ryan, Robert L. and Robert E. Grese. 2005. “Urban Volunteers and the Environment: Forest and Prairie Restoration.” Urban Place: Reconnecting to the Natural World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. pp. 173-188.

Donald Gray, Robert Grese, and Tammy Orlow. 2004. “Saving School Girls’ Glen: Erosion control and watershed restoration in a University arboretum.” Erosion Control. 11: 2(March/April): 34-45. (

Ryan, Robert, Rachel Kaplan, and Robert Grese. 2001. "Predicting Volunteer Commitment in Environmental Stewardship Programs." Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 44(5): 629-648.

Grese, Robert E. and John R. Knott, editors. 2001. Michigan Quarterly Review, Special Issue: "Reimagining Place." Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan. pp. 1-6.

Grese, Robert E., Rachel Kaplan, Robert L. Ryan, and Jane Buxton. 2000. "Psychological Benefits of Volunteering in Stewardship Programs" in Restoring Nature edited by Paul Gobster and Bruce Hull, Covelo, CA: Island Press. pp. 265-280.

Grese, Robert E. 2000. "The Landscape Architect as Conservationist: Jens Jensen and the Native Landscape" in Midwestern Landscape Architecture. edited by William Tishler. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. pp. 117-141.

Grese, Robert E. 1999. "The Landscape Art of Jens Jensen" in Recovering the Prairie edited by Robert Sayre. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 124-143.

Grese, Robert E. 1995. "The Prairie Gardens of O. C. Simonds and Jens Jensen." Regional Garden Design in the United States. edited by Therese O'Malley and Marc Treib. Washington, D. C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. pp. 99-123.

Grese, Robert E. 1992. Jens Jensen: Maker of Natural Parks and Gardens. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 304pp


3576 Dana

(734) 763-0645

Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 North Dixboro Road; Nichols Arboretum, 1610 Washington Heights