Zvaraís garden has as many memories as flowers.
"I call it a friends and family garden," says Zvara.
"When I look out on my garden, I see things people have given to
Zvara has been planting those memories since 1994, when she moved
to her Milwaukee home. She says most of the 150-plus varieties of
flowers that fill both the front and back yards have been gifts,
including peonies from her mother-in-law, who is now deceased. Her
English roses are a reminder of her late mother, who taught her how to
grow the sometimes difficult plant.
Still, she mixes it up, and the wide variety of perennials and
annuals changes during the course of the year. "Itís a
four-season garden. There is something always blooming there,"
color dominates in what she characterizes as a roaming garden that has
"as many hues as a 64 Crayola crayon box. I love color."
In spring, when her work begins, the garden contains fairly typical
seasonal flowers ó traditional tulips, daffodils and narcissus, as
well as lilacs and French bleeding hearts. "But, in summer, it
just comes to life," Zvara says.
Thatís when her English and French lavender are in full bloom ó
and the envy of passers-by. "I share the wealth," she says.
also has primrose, poppies and bachelorís buttons, as well as a more
obscure Harry Walkerís corkscrew willow, which, along with red twig
dogwood, provides interest in winter, too.
And in fall, Zvaraís garden contains chrysanthemums, asters of
lavender, deep purple and pink, and clematis, which covers one-third
of her backyard trellis and looks like a "big white
Zvaraís venture into gardening began like most others ó by
trial and error. "When itís your passion, itís not a chore to
research and learn it," she says.
Her mother taught her much, too, as did courses at the University
of Wisconsin-Extension. "The main source that helped me pull it
all together was the master gardenerís program," she says.
Zvara says tending her garden is time-consuming ó it takes her 10
to 12 hours a week to keep it in good shape, work that begins already
"Itís kind of like football ó you wonít see me until
November," she laughs.
But sheís not complaining. "Itís my meditation time. Itís
my time to clear my brain and replenish my heart," she says.
"Iím obsessed with it."