Wisconsin Garden Wonderland
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Watch for brake lights when driving the quiet lane past the Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, home of Dale and Joan Jeanquart. It's hard for drivers to resist stomping on the brakes when they spot 12-foot-tall people striding through the yard. "They back up and sit awhile," Dale says.
Appropriately named Terra and Cotta, these "overgrown container gardens" stand on skeletons of concrete and metal piping. The giant couple and their dog, Francois, gain their regal stance from long-lasting German terra-cotta pots sprouting sedum, Plectranthus and ornamental grasses.
The pot people reign over a double lot brimming with the imaginative creations of Joan and Dale (a retired cop).
Click ahead to read more about Joan and Dale's creative garden. Pictured: Cotta is an impressive yard warrior.
Koi and pink water lilies fill three water gardens. In the evenings, a fire pit glows from the heart of a sunken sitting area. Surprising works of art wait for guests who take the time to explore dozens of flower beds.
Take the decorative bikes, which are almost a garden cliché. Bikes hanging on walls, not so much. White impatiens flow from the handlebar basket, and dark green leaves twine through the spokes. For parties, Joan and Dale sometimes transform a glass chandelier from flower vase to fish bowl. "The fish are a one-night-stand kind of thing. Afterward, we give them away to friends," Dale says.
Multihued blooms pull it all together. "I like to paint with plants as colors," Dale says. "It really is an art. I do it for myself, to express myself. It's my own garden palette to draw on."
Pictured: Koi add a flash of color to a water garden.
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.
The garden has evolved over 20 years: Sun-loving plants get moved when trees shade them, and each year brings new specimens. 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.
Garden tour: Hanging bike
A bike appears to levitate on a fence.
Garden tour: Fish bowl chandelier
Goldfish swim in a glass chandelier. The chandelier becomes a fish bowl only for parties; fish are then given to guests.
Garden tour: Up-close thistle
Purple globe thistle invites inspection.
Garden tour: A kingdom of greenery
A giant trio holds court over a vast assortment of horticultural "subjects." Terra's gown is made of climbing hydrangea.
Garden tour: Delightful detailing
Francois, the dog, has a mane of Mexican feathergrass.
Garden tour: Bright lilies
'Red Volunteer' is just one of hundreds of daylily cultivars in the garden.
Garden tour: Clever tool station
Dale Jeanquart designed this convenient birdhouse-look tool station.
Garden tour: Living wall
Framed sedum and succulents make living art.
Garden tour: Big beans
Colorful castor bean can grow to 8 feet tall.
Garden tour: Look closer
Terra's hat holds Silver Falls dichondra.
Garden tour: Slow-cooker flower containers
Impatiens in slow-cooker liners hang from a rope pulley.
Garden tour: Meet the gardeners
Dale and Joan under a clematis-covered arbor.