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Symphony of color
Six Waukesha gardens featured in this year's WSO Tour


June 2008

Spiering garden

Garden tours provide plant lovers with inexpensive inspiration. Wondering what to do with that sunny area of your yard? Take a look at what gardeners featured on this year’s Waukesha Symphony Orchestra League Garden Tour have done in a similar space. As a fundraiser for the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra, the annual tour features six Waukesha gardens clustered near Carroll College and in the southern part of the city as well as the town of Waukesha. Stein Garden and Gifts is this year’s sponsor.

Here is just a sample of the symphony of color you’ll see on this year’s tour.

Bob and Mary Spiering

A four-foot koi pond and waterfall is one of the centerpieces of the backyard of the Spiering yard. Six large fish named for classical composers make their home in the pond adjacent to a deck. Mary tries to have something blooming in the pond area all the time, from old-fashioned bee balm and phlox to irises, coneflowers and yarrow. When the Spierings’ son uncovered a complete elk’s skull in South Dakota, Mary agreed to store it for him. So the skull has become part of a Western-themed garden with cacti, Joe Pye weed and indigo adding the plant interest. Two berms separate the gardens, one with a trellis supporting a trumpet vine and surrounded with Asiatic lilies. The other berm features hardy hibiscus, peonies and more Asiatic lilies.

Kathleen and Dennis Hulen

The 150- by 360-foot backyard offers multiple surprises for garden tour visitors. Various beds filled with perennials dot the space. Annuals are added for continuous color. You’ll find a gas plant and mallow, a bed of hollyhocks and lots of butterfly-loving plants. One of the sun beds features phlox, globe thistle and candytuft. The wooden pyramid trellis supports a prolific William Baffin rose. Along the sides of the white arbor are a climbing hydrangea and a shade-tolerating rose bush. As you walk through the one-acre yard, you’ll find surprises wherever you go.

Linder garden

Chris and Alan Linder

A serpentine concrete walk defines the path to the Linders’ front door. Along one side of the walk are shade plants, notably the hostas and astilbes. Sun lovers have claimed the other side. The backyard features a woodland garden that contains a variety of unusual species. Look for a rare red trillium tucked in among the primulas, hellebores and variegated Solomon’s seal. Other interesting specimens include lots of old-fashioned hollyhocks and a shrub clematis. Some dead elm trees have been transformed into pieces of garden art. Carved into one of them is a nature woodland spirit. Another sports two raccoons. Chris grows thousands of perennials to use in her work as a garden designer.

JoAnn and Rudy Zeilhofer

A quarter-mile driveway framed with evergreens leads to the Zeilhofer home. Rudy is a buyer for Stein Garden and Gifts and JoAnn willingly tests the latest plants for hardiness and quality. Beds of exotics edge the driveway. Separate garden rooms are scattered about the 13-acre property. Everywhere you look there are points of interest. In the spring some 100,000 hyacinths, crocuses, tulips and daffodils blossom into a riot of color. Look for a dappled willow grafted on a standard tree, weeping cherry and mulberry trees, even magnolias. Hostas and day lilies, including the ubiquitous Stella d’Oro yellow lilies, are everywhere and clematis plants are tucked into various spaces. A Stein’s television commercial was filmed in the Zeilhofers’ yard.

As part of the tour, the Zeilhofers will host a free tea party from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 21, on their property. The party will include music performed by the students of the Waukesha Symphony chamber music program as well as a speaker from Monrovia Nursery. The annual plant sale will also be held at the Zeilhofer homeon Saturday and Sunday, June 21-22.

Barbara and Dwayne Nickels

An old-fashioned cottage garden can be found at the Nickels’ home. Barbara grows a mixture of delphiniums, peonies and sweet William interspersed with wisteria, climbing roses, clematis and perennial sweet peas. There’s a lot going on in a relatively small space. Look for Dwayne’s rustic garden art scattered about. Although heavy into succulents and sedums, Barbara is also a day lily hybridizer who hopes to develop six new varieties and name them after her grandchildren. The Nickels’ yard features some 300 to 350 different day lilies.

Tony and Andrea Bryant

The one-acre landscape at the Bryant home is divided into garden rooms. As you wander through the spaces, including a Japanese one that features a tea house and many varieties of hostas, you’ll feel transported to a different place. The most dramatic parts of the yard are actually the mature trees and bronze sculptures. The Scotch pines have been there since the late 1800s; the Japanese, split leaf and red maples were added later.



This story ran in the June 2008 issue of: