a northern refresher

last week i headed to the cool northern climes of wisconsin for a little r&r while my husband attended a conference.  it was a great trip.  lots of walking, garden oogling, connection with friends new and old, and family time in the north woods.  here are the image highlights:

kickin' it monona terrace style

kickin' it monona terrace style

monona terrace is a frank lloyd wright designed community and convention center, with a nice rooftop public space.  it was designed and built before LEED certification was in vogue, and with minor adjustments, was awarded a silver rating, the first convention center with such recognition.

a pretty plant combo on monona terrace

a pretty plant combo of Perovskia, Hemerocallis and Prunus atop monona terrace

a frank lloyd wright effect inside monona terrace

a frank lloyd wright effect inside monona terrace, similar to the guggenheim

monona terrace exterior, lake side

monona terrace exterior, lake side

rooftop monona terrace planting

rooftop monona terrace planting of Calamagrostis, Echinacea and Rudbeckia

of course, i found some time to geocache:

benchmark caching at the capitol

benchmark caching at the capitol

earthcaching at olin park, chautauqua of the west

earth caching at olin park, chautauqua of the west

prior to our trip, i befriended linda and mark of each little world.  they sent me a list of not-to-miss madison sites, then generously offered to give me a personal tour of their garden and others around town.  i certainly couldn’t turn that offer down, and we spent a wonderful day together – proof that garden bloggers can be kind, endearing souls…

each little world's moss garden with newly installed rock edge

each little world's moss garden with newly installed rock edge

interior roof view of each little world's tea house, in progress

interior roof view of each little world's tea house, in progress

stone cairn and Hakonechloa at each little world

stone cairn and Hakonechloa at each little world

linda and mark took me to see the first unitarian society meeting house, also designed by frank lloyd wright, and designated as a national historic landmark.  in 2008, an historically-sensitive and sustainable addition was built (designed by the kubala washatko architects), complete with green roof and stormwater management system.  it has a gold LEED rating.  see the previous two links for more info and images.

highly contrasting materials at the unitarian meeting house addition

highly contrasting materials at the unitarian society meeting house addition

the light was high and harsh when we were there, and i couldn’t get a good angle to capture the green roof, but you get the idea.

rain chains utilized in the water management system at the meeting house

rain chains utilized in the water management system at the meeting house addition

hardscaping detail at the ucc meeting house recent addition

hardscaping detail at the meeting house addition

courtyard garden at the ucc meeting house recent addition

courtyard garden at the meeting house addition - this stone was about 4' high

our next stop was the allen centennial gardens on the campus of uw-madison.  i actually came here when i was looking for undergraduate schools way back when, but i didn’t recall it looking so good… must be all the efforts that ed lyon, the garden’s director, and his dedicated crew is doing there.  keep up the good work, the world needs more horticulturalists!

allen centennial garden, uw madison campus

allen centennial garden, uw-madison campus

brassica and cynara plant combo at allen centennial gardens

Brassica and Cynara plant combo at allen centennial gardens

Ipomoea, Nepeta and Talbaghia plant combo at allen

Ipomoea, Nepeta and Talbaghia plant combo at allen

i admired many plant combinations at allen, and might even be able to try similar ones here in texas.

from allen we headed to the uw-madison arboretum, home to curtis prairie, the world’s first and oldest restored prairie.  since acquiring the land in the 30’s, the arboretum has conducted extensive research on planting methods and management techniques such as prescribed fires and storm water management.  we only had a bit of time to spend there, but i picked up a book (prairie plants of the uw-madison arboretum by cochrane, elliot & lipke) at one of the local area bookstores, hoping to glean some of its information for a project in texas.

entrance prairie at the uw madison arboretum

entrance prairie at the uw madison arboretum

wednesday morning i happily found the madison area/dane county farmers’ market, just down from the capitol.  lots of vendors on both sides of the street leading from the capitol to the monona convention center.  i bought a locally roasted coffee, a super sugary bear claw, nibbled on some cheese samples (come on now, this is wisconsin), and bought not one, but two pints of organic raspberries that melted in my mouth – the second one i gave to the conference-bound husband.

the madison farmers' market faces the rising sun

the madison farmers' market faces the rising sun...

and then i headed northwest to reconnect with a dear friend in minneapolis…

ms. lyn in minn

ms. lyn in minn

in the evening we reminisced over a bottle of wine (or two), and in the morning hit the vintage and craft stores, just like we did back in high school (minus the wine part, of course).  isn’t it nice to know that some things never change?  good times…

then headed back to madison, and from there we headed to the north country to visit my relatives and their farm in the woods of butternut:

the barn in butternut

the tourist's view of the barn...

we traipsed through tracks of poplar, balsam, birch and red pine.

strolling through the Betula and Pteridium

strolling through the Betula and Pteridium

we were happily put to work on a new garden for my aunt.  she had a basic idea worked out, and then the boys and i got to reconfiguring it.  we used brick brought from her parent’s hometown of bessemer, and sandstone culled from under the porch of a restaurant just down the road.  we dug a good base and filled it with a gravely sand (also found on the property) before setting the brick.  good thing someone had a tractor lying around to assist us…

no visit is complete without starting a new garden

no visit is complete without starting a new garden

unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to finish, but it’s off to a good start.  i can’t wait to see how it turns out!

as far as we got... take it from here guys!

as far as we got... take it from here guys!

now my aunt will have even more room for her pretty plant combinations, like the perfectly matched phlox and meadow rue combo that i absolutely fell in love with:

Phlox and Thalictrum, a beautiful combination

Phlox and Thalictrum, a beautiful combination

a great trip all around… the greenery, the cool weather, reconnecting with friends and family… i am grateful, and refreshed.

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7 thoughts on “a northern refresher

  1. Well, this was fun to see how you saw Madison and the places you/we visited. Your Monona Terrace shots and No. 3 and 4 of the Meeting House are particularly effective. And you are right about that plant combo of your Aunt’s; it’s quite striking. We’re hoping to get back to ACG to take some more pictures on a day that’s not so sunny.

    • yes, i laughed when i saw you posted your review of our tour just as i was in the midst of writing my post! i like how you captured the gardens at acg too. speaking of the meeting house, i drove seth around campus and made him go look inside the sanctuary addition – he was very impressed. it was raining at the time, so i saw the rain chains in use. i wonder if flw would approve of them…?

  2. I certainly enjoyed your mini-tour of Madison. You hit the highlights as far as gardening in Madison. Lovely to see them through the eyes of a gardener form a different part of the country. Though I’m a Wisconsin transplant, I’ve been in Madison nearly a quarter of a century, so it’s home to me.

    • thanks for stopping by mo! it was an enjoyable trip, partly because i was able to reminisce over all the plants i grew up with (in mi) and left just a year ago in ny. glad to hear that your own transplanting has firmly rooted…

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