Gardens educate, inspire

Rob Zimmer Special Contributor
Now Media Group

Throughout our state, communities and organizations offer a number of breathtaking public gardens, perfect for a summer getaway, road trip or simple, relaxing exploration.

Visiting the amazing public gardens found here in Wisconsin gives gardeners an opportunity to explore new possibilities, see new and unusual plants up close and personal, as well as helping to bring garden dreams to life.

Within Wisconsin's public gardens, you'll find everything from formal beds and borders to whimsical children's gardens and soothing, tranquil shade oases.

I'll explore many of them over the next two weeks here in my column.

Green Bay Botanical Garden

A sprawling paradise of gardens within gardens, expect to spend several hours wandering the paths through gardens overflowing with colorful plants, tempting combinations and breathtaking beauty.

Some of the gardening treasures located here include the stunning King Shade Garden, featuring a peaceful meandering stream with waterfalls beneath a towering canopy of woodland trees. Hundreds of mature hosta specimens, along with other shade perennials, shrubs and bulbs decorate the narrow ravine and hillsides.

The Arendt Conifer Garden features some 300 specimen dwarf and miniature conifers arranged along a breathtaking hillside slope terraced in natural limestone.

The Green Bay Botanical Garden features nationally recognized display gardens of the American Hosta Society and the American Hemerocallis (daylily) Society.

Mariners Trail Gardens

Along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Manitowoc to Two Rivers, the 5-mile long Mariners Trail is decorated with dozens of garden beds, berms and borders, all maintained locally by individuals, organizations and businesses.

Decorative beds featuring incredible combinations of annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs can be found along the trail, free to the public as they explore the beach and dunes.

From spring through fall the gardens shine as the individual gardeners and organizations strive to create breathtaking displays that will withstand summer's heat and the full sun exposures found along the shoreline trail.

Visitors will also enjoy a number of ornamental sculptures that rise over the gardens. A beautiful trio of dancing cranes, graceful blue heron and nesting bald eagles are just a few of the unique metallic sculptures found along the trail.

The Paine Art Center and Gardens

The ornate beauty and elegant design of the formal gardens here are one of a kind. Located in Oshkosh, you will discover incredible beauty and grace throughout the seasons.

Within the gardens, formal beds and borders accents pathways that lead through peaceful glades and reflecting ponds.

Colorful in-ground plantings and designs, along with the most incredible container combinations and creations imaginable flow through the property seamlessly, providing hours of exploration and enjoyment.

Be sure to visit the ongoing displays at the historic Paine mansion, as well.

Bookworm Gardens

Sheboygan's treasured public garden, Bookworm Gardens is, simply, a place like no other. Fairytale gardens and over the top displays that bring to mind the fantasy lands of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stimulate the senses as you explore this wonderful, playful and dreamy wonderland.

Essentially a children's garden for adults, Bookworm Gardens brings to life dozens of favorite children's story books in larger than life detail, creating some of the most incredible garden vistas and vignettes imaginable.

Chances are, you'll discover your favorite children's book in a full living color. From Jack and the Beanstalk and Little House on the Prairie to The Three Bears, Horton Hatches an Egg and A Girl Named Helen Keller, each section of the garden brings to life a theme in spectacular color and using plants that are cutting edge, colorful and fitting in each carefully designed story.

I'll have more on Wisconsin's incredible public gardens next week.

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