Lac La Belle shimmering before her and the Lac La Belle Golf Club
beckoning at her back door, it’s a wonder Karen Evans has any time
for gardening. Yet from the moment you spy her charming yellow
Victorian, it’s clear someone with a green thumb lives here.
Color — bold, exuberant color all summer — is what Evans had in
mind for her landscape, and she achieved it. Even the corniced mailbox
doubles as a planter, cascading with pink petunias.
"I wanted it to look like Door County," says Evans, an
admirer of the casual, cottage garden style.
always try to put paths in my gardens," says Karen Evans.
The stepping stone path through this garden is lined with
creeping thyme. "It smells so good when you walk on
it," Evans reports.
This is actually the second version of this landscape. Evans and
her husband Bill built the house in 1990, planting many of the
existing trees at that time. In 1995, they bought a house on the other
side of the lake. But, they really liked that Victorian, so when it
became available again in 2002, they bought it back.
To give the landscape a new look, Evans worked with Meg Miller
Landscape Design in Stone Bank. Evans and Miller have been
collaborating for eight years, starting with that house across the
lake. "We’ve become friends over the years," Miller says.
And how could Evans and Miller not get to know each other well
looking over the lush landscape that is filled with beautiful flowers
Hydrangeas bloom in the filtered shade of a locust tree, and near
the back door, lady’s mantle, azaleas and astilbes share space with
a birch tree. Large-leaved coleus and begonias bloom from containers
that add color on another plane.
the house and the driveway an arbor, painted in deeper tones
of the Victorian’s sage-green trim, invites you to explore
further. Meg Miller’s husband Dan custom-made the arbor as
well as many trellises to complement the home’s
architecture. Flowers spill from window boxes and billow in
lushly planted beds.
The two shady areas are linked by repeating many of the same
sun-loving plants that festoon the front walk. Along the side of the
house, a black-eyed Susan vine grows up a trellis. Everywhere,
colorful pinwheels spin in the lake breeze — an attempt to keep
hungry rabbits at bay.
The back of the house opens onto a private patio with a spa.
"My husband uses the spa every day and our grandkids love
it," Evans says. "They go in the lake, and then they want to
go in the spa."
The spa is enclosed by oak-leaved hydrangeas, hibiscus, black-eyed
Susans, day lilies and colorful annuals. Here and there, old pine
trees that pre-date the house offer privacy. Beyond them, the yard
opens seamlessly into the golf course.
Tall pines separate the Evans from their next-door neighbors.
Between these pines and the house, a narrow path of stepping stones
lined with the tall yellow spikes of ligularia leads back toward the
front of the house. Here, a shady view of the lake is framed by a
metal trellis lined with cardinals.
phlox, blazing star and perennial geraniums bloom in hues of
pink and red. Coreopsis adds a punch of yellow, while
delphiniums, Russian sage, verbena and butterfly bush provide
a palette of purples and blues. Huge red and orange zinnias as
well as red hibiscus — with flowers nearly as large as
dinner plates — pick up the color of the patio umbrella and
With golf, grandkids, watersports and other diversions, it’s a
wonder Evans has time to weed, deadhead, water and otherwise tend her
extensive gardens, yet garden she does. In fact, when she’s not
outside amidst the flowers, Evans says she likes to just sit in her
house and admire the garden view.
"When I start looking out the windows," she admits,
"I don’t get anything else done."