Mastel enjoys the calmness of curves and itís apparent in her yard.
Curves are found throughout all the
spaces from the "carefree" border gardens, to the small rain
garden and even in the childrenís garden created especially for the
Mastelsí 9-year-old daughter, Melinda. There are no sharp angles.
The gardens also include "small gradual berms and shallow swails,
accented with fieldstone," says Mastel.
Larry and Cheri Mastel moved into their
one-story ranch house on a three-quarter acre lot 12 years ago, before
Melinda was born. While the house was more modest compared to others
they had looked at, it was the sloping backyard that sold them. As
soon as they moved in, the couple began transforming the space with
evergreens, which now form the basis for a wildlife habitat. The
Brookfield gardenersí landscaping is registered with the National
Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat.
"Our overall concept was to create
a space that would both stimulate and nurture, a childís wonderland
for exploring, experimenting, imagining and playing," says Mastel.
"There are eight paths to add interest, allowing children easy
access and bringing them up close to each feature so they can satisfy
Carefree is an appropriate word to
describe the entire area. All of the plants and flowers were chosen to
survive Wisconsin winters and for ease of care. "Our gardens are
meant to be lived in, both by our friends and family, and the little
creatures who visit," she says. "Our gardens would not be
complete without our golf holes, a tree fort, a slumber party tent,
birdhouses, feeders and birdbaths." And unlike many gardeners,
Mastel believes that anything in bloom is fair game for cutting.
Mastel spends time pruning and weeding her "Enchanted
A variety of flowering shrubs and
plants form the borders, which are edged with 8-inch snapped Lannon
stone thatís used to create a permanent edge. The edge is inset at
ground level for easier mowing. Roses, lilacs, hibiscus, hydrangeas,
flowering dogwood, quince, sumac, even St. Johnís Wort have taken
root in the borders. In the front yard, a fern-leaved peony hugs a
massive rock carved with the Mastelsí address.
The rain garden, a solution to a moist
portion of the sidelawn, culminates in a pond thatís located in a
section of the border gardens. Here Mastel has planted several species
of native wildflowers including milkweed, meadow rue and columbine.
Pink sand frequently covers the stone
paths through the childrenís garden, appropriately named
"Melindaís Enchanted Forest." Stone fairies keep a vigil
over the various shade plants like astilbe, trillium, bleeding hearts,
lily of the valley and hostas. Color is found in the pansies, yellow
irises, sunflowers, asters and phlox. A footbridge covers a faux pond
filled with blue and green glass pebbles.
"Melindaís Enchanted Forest is a
place where she can make all the decisions," says Mastel.
"From plant selection and placement to statues, there is
something new every year to reflect her changing tastes."
The Mastelsí backyard earned its
wildlife habitat designation as a home for hummingbirds and
butterflies. The focal point is "Hummingbird Hollow," which
contains butterfly attractions such as violets, asters, hollyhocks,
cosmos and yarrow. The family is pruning an Austrian pine to create a
"tree-cave." A bench is positioned among the evergreens for
prime hummingbird watching as they flit to and fro from the columbine
and the scarlet beebalm.
For Mastel, inspiration comes from her
painting. "Idyllic landscapes seem to flow from my brushes most
easily," she says. "When I am landscaping I often feel Iím
creating a sculptural painting, using dirt and flora as my
Besides the flora, the Mastelsí back
yard is also home to some unusual fauna. The family has seen a pair of
red fox, a wild turkey, a coyote and a family of mink tour the space.
Like nature, the familyís garden space is ever evolving. Future
plans revolve around removing trees past their service life and
gaining space as evergreens mature. "What we really hope to do in
the gardens is just keep having fun, enjoying our family, friends and
the neighbors," says Mastel.