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Lush symbolism
The Asian influence is prevalent along the winding paths of the Krauses’ gardens

By MARY LOU SANTOVEC

April 2008

The reclaimed red brick paver path leads from the sidewalk to the front door. Pots of annuals add shots of excitement among the various subtle green hues. When working with such a monochromatic palette, texture is key to diversity. The cast iron Oriental lantern is one of several working light sources scattered throughout the yard. The Krauses go through a gross of candles in the summer lighting up their yard after dusk. "For years, being a teacher, I wasn’t here during the day," says Tom, "so I had to relax in the garden at night." In the distance, the branches of an Austrian pine are being manipulated like a bonsai specimen for a particular effect.


East has definitely met West in the gardens of Wauwatosa residents Tom and Patti Krause. An Asian influence is reflected through plant selections, hardscapes and design that was inspired by visits to major botanical gardens.

Some 30 years ago when the couple bought the home, the front yard featured only four silver maples, a red maple and a lilac bush. Tom was in his rose period and the original 100 rose plants brought him the first Wauwatosa Mayor’s Beautification Award. Fast forward three decades and you’ll find a plethora of plantings, from unique dwarf conifers to hostas to ferns. The roses are no longer. Blame the transformation on Tom, a retired art teacher from Bell Middle School, who over the years has turned a ho-hum yard into a masterpiece using unusual trees, perennials and mosses as artist materials. The mature trees also contributed to the transformation, converting a sunny space into a shade garden.

The front yard serves to ground the 1924 Colonial house while the plant selections represent a series of scenes. Paths are purposefully laid out to lead visitors around the yard in a specific way. "The primary path was the driveway," says Tom. "You’d come across the relatively wide and clear path constructed with red pavers to the front door." He created the serpentine-like secondary path for aesthetic purposes. It leads visitors through a hedge constructed of emerald green arborvitae bisected with a white picket gate to the front door. An offshoot leads through the arbor to the backyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tom made the bird basin by taking a granite boulder and cutting it in half with a diamond saw. The water in the basin reflects the lush greenery that makes this an inviting space no matter what time of the day or night.


 


Patti claims responsibility for the potscaping. Bright annuals like dragonwing begonias and impatiens sit in pots installed high on poles and in containers flanking the home’s entryway. English ivy and vinca vine drape over the containers. "When you have this much shade and this many trees, you have too much competition in the dirt," says Tom, explaining why all of the color is confined to pots.


 


This one-of-a-kind concrete fountain appears to be a featured stop on the avian flyway. Contrasting with the vegetation in the couple’s front yard, it’s the only formal shape in the space. Tom crafted it after numerous attempts. The exterior is impregnated with pea gravel. The inside is hollow and houses a lighting system and plumbing.


 

 


This article was featured in the April 2008 issue of