Wisconsin Garden Wonderland
Swaths of color
To a canvas of green grass, Dale has applied swaths of sun-loving red bee balm (Monarda) and spots of bold 'Red Volunteer' daylily (Hemerocallis). Down low are the chartreuse leaves of 'Southern Comfort' coral bell (Heuchera), and up high the red-tinged castor bean (Ricinus). Amid all that boldness, subtle purple emerges via ferny love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) and spiky globe thistle (Echinops). In the inky darkness under maple trees, tall sunny-yellow stalks of Ligularia and leafy green hostas provide contrast.
Fittingly in this varied landscape, serendipity plays its part. Birds plant sunflowers. Vines tangle through bike spokes. "We just go with the flow," Dale says. For instance, one water feature consists of a family heirloom hand pump and an old crock. "The water used to run over the top of the crock. Then a piece broke off, and water flows out the hole. I like it better now."
The garden has evolved over 20 years: Sun-loving plants get moved when trees shade them, and each year brings new specimens. Joan says, "Our gardens are always changing; we never leave anything alone."
One constant, though, is a focus on more blooming beds and less lawn. "Grass is a chore," Dale says. "Flowerbeds are pure joy," Joan concludes.
Pictured: Red bee balm lures butterflies.