July 27, 2022

Wordless Wednesday: July Fen

midsummer insets
July Fen
[Insets, L to R: Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Sawtooth Sunflower (Helianthus grosseserratus),
Virginia Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum), Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)]

spring insets
May Fen
[Insets, L to R: Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)]

January Fen

July 16, 2022

Sunday at the 2022 Fling:
Perfect Weather and More Great Gardens

Rotary Sunken
The sunken garden at Rotary Botanical Gardens

On the last day of the 2022 Garden Bloggers Fling, the weather was fabulous, as were the gardens.

millers 1

We split into two buses at separate gardens again, and the first garden my bus visited was the colorful, delightful garden of Jane and Duane Miller. It really makes a statement out front, with colorful paint, bowling balls, and display plants. It was bright and beautiful on this nearly cloudless summer day.

millers 2

Jane has a creative, artful way of arranging her garden items and plants. It's very welcoming and you want to wander into the nooks and crannies, to see what's around each corner.

millers 3

The vibrant plants and the unique props complement each other.

Ann Munson 3

Next, we headed to Ann Munson's peaceful, mostly wooded garden. She, too, has fun and artsy garden displays.

Ann Munson 2

Ann has lovingly cared for her garden for 43 years. She started with a small veggie garden, and has gradually expanded to include her entire 3/4-acre suburban lot. There's no lawn—paths and natural structures weave in and among the garden areas.

Ann Munson 1

Ann created her gardens using storybook themes, and the result is a warm, whimsical trip through a great collection of plants and props. 

Rotary 1

We next traveled to Janesville, Wis., to visit Rotary Botanical Gardens. I've always enjoyed this view, which you can access by climbing a few stairs to a patio that overlooks the Formal French Garden.

Rotary 2

The various gardens cover 20 acres, featuring 26 areas that surround a lake.

Rotary 3

Benches at the gardens share words of wisdom from historical sages.

Janet Aaberg 1

In the afternoon, we headed to Stoughton, Wis., about 30 minutes southeast of Madison. Janet Aaberg began creating her colorful garden in 1999, which features blooms and fabulous foliage from early spring through November.

Janet Aaberg 2

Lilies, colorful shrubs, and amazing climbing plants grace her sun-filled property.

Janet Aaberg 3

Janet shared a welcoming sign to say "hello" and "goodbye" to our Flingers.

Jim and Jay 2

The final private garden of the day was that of Jim Ottney and Jay Hatheway, also in Stoughton. When they bought the property, it was an untended field of weeds, an oil change sand pit, volunteer trees, and invasive plants. They turned over the entire lot by hand, transforming it into a tranquil sanctuary.

Jim & Jay 1

The result is a comfy oasis, filled with amazing plants and garden art. Jim describes it as "a private escape and a space where we can entertain small groups of friends."

Jim and Jay 3

Since I last visited, Jim and Jay also have beautified the nearby waterfront with the blessings of local officials.

Allen Centennial 3

Finally, we ended the Fling at the UW-Madison campus Allen Centennial Garden. It's described as the "artful living laboratory" of the university's horticulture department. Beautiful, healthy annuals and perennials are displayed in 14 areas of the compact 2.5-acre property.

Allen Centennial 2

Veggies, ornamentals, and plants of all types are displayed and tested here.

Allen Centennial 1

We think a youngster helped create this welcome sign.

And that was the end of the 2022 Fling! It was fun, educational, and done in the blink of an eye. We hope everyone who attended enjoyed it; we certainly were happy to reconnect with plant-loving friends we hadn't seen since the summer before the pandemic!

Thanks for joining me on this journey! To read more about the 2022 Fling and learn about the 2023 Fling, visit the Fling website.

July 11, 2022

Saturday at the 2022 Fling:
Artful Displays and Fabulous Foliage

Main entrance to Olbrich Botanical Gardens:
Bolz Conservatory and front gravel garden to the left and main lobby entrance on the right.

Our second full day of the 2022 Garden Bloggers Fling was a bit more relaxed to start. It rained in the early morning, which was fine for quick trips to the nearby Dane County Farmers Market and our brunch at Goodman Community Center. Then, it was cloudy through most of the day, which can be beneficial for some photo situations.

After the brunch, we headed for Olbrich Botanical Gardens. I specifically set a goal to take only a few photos at Olbrich this time—to focus on the people, truly observe the plants, and savor the visit. I've visited Olbrich so many times, and (God willing) I'll visit it many more in the seasons and years ahead (lucky me).

kuster 1

After Olbrich, our group split into two groups, alternating between three lovely West Madison gardens. The first one my bus toured was the garden of Tom and Cheryl Kuster. Their pond was impressive. There's something so relaxing about water features in gardens, and so many life forms to study. The larger garden is divided into 20 sections, and the pond winds through several of them.

kuster 2

I'm a fan of water lilies, both the pads and the flowers. They were magical in this garden.

kuster 3

Tom says he's a "collector of plants," and he certainly has an impressive collection of Sedums and Sempervivums, some of which border the pond.

fillingame 1

Next, we headed to Cindy Fillingame's garden, starting out with her welcoming front entrance. It featured artful arrangements of various foliage plants and lovely roses.

fillingame 2

I didn't get the name of this rose, but the newly opening blooms were stunning with soft dew and rain droplets.

fillingame 3

Cindy's miniatures—framed by hostas, ferns, and other foliage—were delightful.

brazill-golbach 2

Our final garden destination of the day was the Asian-themed garden of Linda Brazill and Mark Golbach. If you've never visited this garden, it's truly unique. It's a work of art and very organized, but it also conveys a sense of peace and tranquility. The Astrantias (A. major) were blooming, surrounded by plentiful shades of green foliage plants.

brazill-golbach 1

The garden has amazing stonework and structures, unusual trees, a Japanese tea house, and a gravel garden that mimics the movement of water.

brazill-golbach 3

On the porch, Linda had arranged beautiful pots with cuttings from the garden. A very thoughtful and calming place to be.

Next up: our Sunday itinerary.

This is just a small portion of our visits. For more coverage of the Fling, check out the Fling website.

July 06, 2022

First Days of the 2022 Fling:
Prairies, Ponds, Edibles, and Ornamentals

prairie natives
Prairie gardens at Epic Systems campus

As I shared in my last post, the 2022 Garden Bloggers Fling was fun! It was great to be together with fellow plant lovers, and the diversity of garden types in the Madison area provided fodder for attendees—yours truly included. Prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and more are prevalent here, naturally, and are reflected in the private and public gardens, alike.

On Thursday evening, we started at the rooftop garden of the Madison Children's Museum. I admit I neglected to take any photos there, but the museum's website provides a fantastic view of what is found at the garden, and the activities that take place during the summer growing season.

1a True-Aerts

The next day, Friday, we started out in one of the most impressive edible gardens I've encountered. Betsy True and Danny Aerts grow most of their own food on their one-acre property. A large fenced-in garden showcases a multitude of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, grown using diverse organic techniques.

1b True-Aerts

They also keep bees and grow mushrooms, among other pursuits, so it's a productive working property.

1c True-Aerts

These raised bins of greens caught my attention; definitely a technique to consider for the future. One useful aspect is that they can be moved over time and over the seasons to capture the sun and avoid rabbit damage.

2a Grosz

Next, we headed to Linda and Phil Grosz's amazing 1 3/4-acre property, featuring a stunning pond, surrounded by prairie, woodlands, and expansive mature trees. Linda planted the prairie from seed in 1998, added the pond a few years later, and has continually added and changed plantings over the years.

2b Grosz

The woodland gardens are artfully arranged along the edges.

2c Grosz

The prairie lies between the house/pond area, and the woodlands. I shared a post about Linda's prairie and gardens three years ago, when we thought the Madison Fling would occur in 2020.

Arb Roses

For lunch, we headed to the UW-Madison Arboretum. After lunch, Dr. Karen Oberhauser, Arb director, Susan Carpenter, native plant garden curator, and David Stevens, the Longenecker horticultural gardens curator presented a program and led the Fling attendees on informative tours. I'm cheating here, including a photo of a pollinator on an Arb native rose (Rosa arkansana) from a previous year. They're so fascinating to observe this time of year.

3a Thomas

Our first destination in the afternoon was the Fitchburg garden of Rita Thomas. It had been a while since I'd visited Rita's garden, and I must admit it was full of sweet surprises. Little touches of art and welcoming mixes of sun and shade were so pleasant.

3b Thomas

Rita's Martagon Lilies (Lilium martagon) captured the play of light so magically.

3c Thomas

Her hostas, ferns, evergreens, grasses, and other shade-lovers were so lush and healthy.

4a Nedveck

We headed south to the former Flower Factory next. This train track with a model train is surrounded by plants and bridges and other structures. Nancy and David Nedveck operated the nursery business for more than 30 years. It was once home to more than 4,000 perennial varieties, and while they no longer sell at their property, they do sell plants at the Dane County Farmers' Market.

4b Nedveck

I loved this little miniature, posted on the handrail of a porch.

5a Epic

Our final stop of the day was Epic Systems in Verona. Epic employs more than 10,000 people, and the campus covers 1,100 acres, so we only saw a small portion of it. Maybe someday I'll do a post just about Epic; such a unique place.

5b Epic

I was happy to see so many native plants in the Epic gardens, including Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa).

5c Epic

One of the most impressive aspects of the Epic property is their gravel gardens, which feature unique plants, props, and designs. Many of the gardens at Epic function as green roofs over underground campus areas, including parking garages.

Next up: our Saturday itinerary.

This is just a small portion of our visits. For more coverage of the Fling, check out the Fling website.