Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A delightful discovery in Madison: Mini gardens in the Atwood Neighborhood September 10, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Through the twigs I spotted this mini rabbit by a tree in the Atwood Neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin.


SOMETIMES IT’S THE SMALL THINGS in life that bring the most joy. And that adage can apply to gardening.


An apartment complex under construction in the Atwood area of Madison.


This view from my son’s apartment balcony shows the bike trail crossing the street and the residences alongside.


Inside the restored historic Garver Feed Mill complex, now a gathering spot for food, entertainment and more in the Atwood Neighborhood. This photo was taken from the second floor, in mid-February, pre-COVID. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo February 2020.


On a July trip to Madison, Wisconsin, to see family, Randy and I explored a block square residential area near our son’s apartment in the Atwood Neighborhood. This east-side area offers an appealing mix of single family homes, apartments and multi-family housing mingling with home-grown businesses. Add in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, bike trails and Lake Monona and this part of the city presents an attractive place to live, especially for young professionals.


A water feature at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin, Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo May 2018.


A pizza place located inside the historic Garver Feed Mill complex, photographed before COVID-19 related restrictions.. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo February 2020.


With UW-Madison located in the heart of downtown, you’ll find plenty of statues of Bucky Badger, the university’s mascot. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2018.


Typically, Randy and I would explore Madison with our son, daughter and her husband. The city has much to offer in the arts, architecture, food and beverage scene, and the thriving Dane County Farmers’ Market centered around the state capitol (except now). But, because of COVID-19, we have limited our activities to walking. The daughter also lives next to a recreational trail on the opposite side of the city. Madison seems a model for getting around by foot or on two wheels versus solely by vehicle. Plenty of green space also defines this city.


Lilies bloomed in one yard.


From our stroll around the block, I observed how residents value their neighborhood. That shows in well-kept homes and yards, with flowers aplenty replacing the typical lawn. I love that concept of filling one’s outdoor space with plants and flowers. It seems more environmentally friendly and artistically inviting than a manicured, chemical-laced lawn.


Among vibrant phlox at the base of a tree, a sweet mini garden.


Through the Dusty Miller, I spotted a rabbit gardener.


In a neighborhood where many homeowners post inclusive, welcoming signs, I found this mini garden with the sign that rabbits are not welcome.


While taking in the nuances of the neighborhood, I discovered a sweet surprise in one yard. Mini garden art. Tiny scenes created with miniature figurines. Mostly rabbits. The unexpected find made me giddy.


I love how this prairie dropseed grass rolls.


When I looked closely, I discovered Mother Goose and family in the spirals of grass next to a rock.


Together Randy and I scanned the yard, spotting these magical scenes among spiraling prairie dropseed grass, at the base of trees, upon and next to rocks. For a few moments I immersed myself in finding and then photographing the mini garden art, all the while almost squealing with delight.


I love this simple mini garden art.


Randy alerted me that the homeowner was watching through a window. I hope he understood, while watching, just how much I appreciated his efforts that brought joy into my summer afternoon.


This scene seemed especially fitting given the bike trail just across the street.


Sometimes that’s all it takes. A little effort. A little creativity. A little caring about your neighborhood and about others to make a difference.


The mini garden scenes in this Atwood Neighborhood yard provide a delightful moment of escape from reality.


Especially during a global pandemic.


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Please check back for more posts from a more recent trip to Madison.


17 Responses to “A delightful discovery in Madison: Mini gardens in the Atwood Neighborhood”

  1. Loving the mini garden art! Thanks for sharing

  2. Missy’s Crafty Mess Says:

    What a cute idea! I bet the kids love it

  3. Oh, what a wonderful discovery! I would have squealed too!! 🙂

  4. jhc1218 Says:

    Fun pictures! Small world story: my friends’ husband is owner and managing partner of Ian’s Pizza. They made quit a bit of news years ago in the wake of Obamacare passage. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/papa-johns-obamacare-ians-pizza_n_2133050

    • Small world, indeed. I’ll check out the link shortly.

      We were just saying that next time we’re in Madison, we need to try Ian’s Pizza. Caleb’s apartment building is located by the Garver Feed Mill complex, a stunning repurposed old building that includes the pizza place and other businesses. Pix of the exterior will be featured in an upcoming post. And I’ll look through my files from February again to see which interior photos I can include. I absolutely love the Atwood Neighborhood. The look. The feel. The walk-ability (or bike-ability). The care I see in yards and signage, etc.

  5. How CUTE – love seeing the unexpected, especially the creative 🙂 The mister asks me at times what I am photographing because he is not “seeing it”. It is usually the smallest detail and it helps that I can zoom in with my camera. Made my day – Happy Day – Enjoy!!!

    • Oh, I can relate to that questioning of “What are you photographing?” You and I are artists. We notice, and really see, the details.

    • You were probably like me as a kid in being very observant. I could usually read people too from a young age (i.e. going around the truth, etc.). Hence why I thought about going into law enforcement after high school. Then switched gears into business.

      • Yes, I would say I’ve always been very observant, the quiet one, the listener. My husband tells me I can make anyone cry. And that’s a compliment. I listen, deeply, to people’s concerns/problems/worries and sometimes (but not always) their sharing with me causes them to cry. I consider this one of my gifts, a way I can help and serve others.

  6. Norma Says:

    I can understand you’re squeals of delight. I would do the same. Such a wonderful neighborhood to live in.

  7. JanBeek Says:

    How deeelightful! Thanks for sharing. ❤

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