Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Friday's Private Gardens Feature Pathways, Ponds, and Prairies


Linda and Phil Grosz's pond

We’re thrilled to share some amazing private gardens at the 2020 Fling! Three days aren’t enough to tour every noteworthy garden in the Madison area, but we did our best to cover three general areas:

  • Friday, June 19, we’ll start on the far west and southwest sides of Madison—touring Middleton and Fitchburg gardens;

  • Saturday, June 20, we’ll move a little closer in to the city of Madison; and

  • Sunday, June 21, we’ll venture to the east side of Madison and Monona, then southeast to the small city of Stoughton.

Friday’s gardens present a pleasant mix of gardening styles and types—from edibles to ornamentals, prairies to woodlands, pathways to ponds, and everything in between.




Rita Thomas began gardening at her Fitchburg garden 35 years ago. “I knew nothing about plants or garden design,” she admits. The garden grew and changed as she learned. Rita describes herself as “a plant collector, seeking out the unusual, the best of the species, or the latest introductions. My major interests have been native woodland plants, daylilies, and irises.”

Rita has an extensive collection of daylilies. Her most recent interests are herbaceous and tree peonies: She recently added 20 new tree and 15 herbaceous peonies to the garden. About 14 of her tree peony grafts and many peony seedlings can be found in her nursery beds. “The garden has been my retreat, my laboratory, and my playground,” she describes. “Tending my garden rejuvenates my spirit and my physical body. I welcome all guests to share in my joy.”



Cherith Bruckner’s shady gardens are woven throughout wonderful hickories, oaks, and black walnuts on a corner lot. “The gardens have taken shape gradually over the past 20+ years—from our first efforts of pulling blackcap raspberry brambles and weeds to what has grown into a passion to enhance the woodland setting,” she says. “A lot of ‘terraforming’ played a role in creating a ‘natural’ setting for a water feature that includes a stream, a waterfall, and a pond.”

Over any one of three bridges lie plants and structures, crags and crevices that hold countless surprises and rewards. Vignettes of many shade-loving perennials and shrubs continue to evolve along the woodland paths and water elements. Gardens in the front provide a home for more sun-loving shrubs and perennials, including irises, lilies, and daylilies.



Betsy True and Danny Aerts describe their one-acre property as “the functional yard. We’ve been gradually improving it with garden, orchard, and woodland settings. A large, fenced vegetable garden occupies the main center.” They are “serious about vegetables—using  market garden techniques, raised beds, rotation, elevated bins, and containers.”

Pears, quince, espaliered apples, and various small fruits are distributed around the garden. There are chickens at one end of the yard and bees at the other. A prairie covers the side yard, and a pond lies just off the sun porch on the other side. “There are many diverse micro-environments,” explains Betsy. “We landscape with an eye for insect nutrition and habitat, extended bloom for the bees, habitat for small animals, and edibles for the house. It’s a work in progress and a joy to keep improving and trying new things.”



Linda and Phil Grosz built their home 22 years ago. Our goal was to transform our large, vacant lot into a beautiful, tranquil, and wildlife-friendly environment,” describes LindaOur first project was planting an acre of native prairie.

Grown entirely from seed, the prairie soon surrounded the yard with an abundant and colorful mix of wildflowers and grasses. A stream cascading into a large pond was the next landscape feature they installed, and it has become the focal point of the back yard and a magnet for visiting birds. Over the years, we’ve added thousands of spring bulbs and perennials, large shade and hosta gardens, as well as a rock garden, herb and vegetable gardens, and a new miniature garden, she says. We’ve also assembled a diverse collection of conifers, Japanese maples, and garden art. Join us on the back deck, and enjoy the view of our pond, prairie, and the adjacent golf course.

Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for overviews of the other private and public gardens to be featured as part of the 2020 Fling. (Note: This schedule may change; we will keep you updated here and on the Fling Facebook page.)

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