25 different types of plants and flowers fill the gardens that
surround the house, including seven hemlock trees, fairy rose
bushes, Blue Forest junipers, leaping meadow ornamental grass,
Annabelle hydrangeas in blue and white, dragon blood sedum,
Roseanne geraniums and ivory halo dogwood.
When the Dowdles decided to build a
1,000-square-foot addition to their Washington Highlands home in 2004,
it proved an opportune time to redo their garden as well. The Dowdles,
who have lived in the 1952 home for 11 years, added a great room and a
master suite with library, laundry room, dressing room and bath; they
also converted their one-car garage to a two-car.
That added space and configuration
meant a complete renovation of the drainage system, which, in turn,
led to a complete renovation of the yard. "The lawn was
completely ripped up," remembers Richard Dowdle.
outcropping of huge Lannon stone rocks in front of the home
add texture and anchor the free-flowing garden design.
To give the Dowdle home the makeover it
needed, the couple hired Arthur Chadek, a historic architect who
worked on the state Capitol. For the garden, an equally skilled expert
was hired — landscape designer Greg John from Johnson Nursery Inc.
in Menomonee Falls.
Richard Dowdle says his goal was a
"fairly maintenance-free" garden area with a color theme
dominated by white and variations of purple. And with plenty of
latitude from the homeowners, John was able to use his creativity when
designing the gardens. "I told him I needed to make sure the
water gets pushed away from the house," says Dowdle. "I gave
him free rein. I wanted something that was maintenance free but also
dramatic for the neighborhood ... something that was very
demonstrative, that made a statement."
patio leads visitors into the backyard, adorned with flowers,
fountains and a serpentine lannon stone wall.
Today, with a simple once-a-week weed
trimming, the Dowdles are able to enjoy their outdoors oasis without
major upkeep. "I like things to grow fairly natural and feathery
looking," says Dowdle, noting that a more structured look wouldn’t
complement the house. "People stop by and ask to walk through the
yard," he says of the gardens neighborhood impact.
John says the property’s drainage
problems and severe slope in the front yard drove the design, but
divulges the gardens aren’t completely maintenance free. "Once
a year we go and re-mulch it," he says. "Richard does a lot
of watering. I know he enjoys a little gardening."
According to Dowdle, his interest in
gardening and colors was sparked in high school biology and art
history classes. He’s also been to the gardens of Luxembourg and is
inspired by what he sees abroad. "When I go overseas, I look at
other peoples’ gardens," he admits.