Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

In praise of the art, gardens & messages in an Atwood Neighborhood September 24, 2020

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BE KIND.

Two simple words painted, along with three red hearts, onto a block of wood. And then set on the front steps of a home in the Atwood Neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin.

 

A section of the Atwood Neighborhood I walked.

 

On a recent trip to Wisconsin’s state capital, I retraced a route I previously walked through this east side neighborhood near my son’s apartment. I found in that residential area many uplifting and positive messages that show those who live here care. Deeply. About others. About issues.

 

One of the many inspiring signs posted in the residential neighborhood where I walked a square block. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

And, in times like this with such chaos and turmoil and hatred in our country, I need to immerse myself in positive and hopeful words that uplift, rather than anger or sadden me.

 

An example of a front yard mixing plants and art.

 

Up close in a front yard I spotted this sprawling cactus which adds interest to the landscape.

 

Besides the messages, I appreciate the art placed in front yards overflowing with plants, including flowers. Not manicured lawns. I welcome that alternative to grass. It’s lovelier and better for the environment.

 

 

And in one yard, by a boulevard tree, I once again found a mini garden, a magical world of fairies and rabbits and gnomes. Making music. Dancing, Reading. Waiting.

 

 

I paused to photograph the scenes, inwardly praising the efforts of the homeowner who created this fantasy world for passersby to enjoy.

 

 

This offers, too, a momentary escape from reality. Something I need now, more than ever.

 

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Fairy tale garden in Northfield inspires July 16, 2014

MAGICAL. ENCHANTING. DELIGHTFUL.

All those adjectives fit the gardens of Susan and Dale Kulsrud who’ve created a fairy tale world outside their south Northfield home.

 

One example of the fairy tale magic tucked into the Kulsruds' gardens.

One example of the fairy tale magic tucked into the Kulsruds’ gardens.

 

From streetside, you’d never guess this corner lot would hold such garden charm. So when my husband parked our van and we crossed the driveway past the Corvette to the side yard during the Northfield Garden Club 2014 Garden Tour, we were surprised.

What a delight.

The side yard garden featuring Dale's handcrafted trellis sculpture.

The side yard garden features Dale’s handcrafted trellis sculpture.

 

First the side garden with an array of flowers—including magnificent towering delphiniums—grabbed my attention. But this plot includes much more than plants. An impressive wood sculpture trellis crafted by Dale defines the space that includes other works of art.

 

The garden shed, Valhalla.

The garden shed, Valhalla.

 

Art. It’s everywhere in this enchanting yard where a garden shed of Dale’s design and crafting anchors a rear corner.

I almost hesitate to dub this building a shed given its appearance and name, Valhalla. The name is an apparent tribute to the family’s Scandinavian heritage. Valhalla is a hall for the slain in Norse lore.

 

Shade-loving plants fill the Valhalla garden.

Shade-loving plants fill the Valhalla garden.

 

With the use of carefully chosen shade-loving plants like hosta, King Kong coleus, ivy, impatiens, begonias and more and the integration of garden art, the Kulsruds have created a fantasy world in their backyard.

 

A view of the garden behind and to the side of Valhalla.

A view of the garden behind and to the side of Valhalla.

 

The area surrounding Valhalla calls for an inchworm pace with multiple pauses to examine the details. I literally lowered myself to nearly lying down at some points to take in and photograph the scenes created here. Kids would love this mini world of surprises tucked in among the plants:

 

I placed my camera on the ground to photograph this cat napping among hostas and impatiens.

I placed my camera on the ground to photograph this cat napping among hosta and impatiens.

 

A jolt of color among hosta.

A jolt of color among hosta. Perfect.

 

Some of the art is more serious, like this bust.

Some of the art is more serious, like this bust among flowering hosta.

 

Garden gnome humor.

Garden gnome humor.

 

The stuff of fairy tales...

The stuff of fairy tales…

 

Looking down into a fairy garden.

Looking down in to a fairy garden created in a bird bath.

 

A ground level view of the gnomes' rocky woodland home.

A ground level view of the gnomes’ rocky woodland home.

 

My favorite scene could have come straight from the pages of a Scandinavian storybook with a gnome house situated against a tree trunk and the resident gnome sweeping his front stoop. It’s absolutely magical.

 

Impatiens spill from a tipped pot.

Petunias spill from a tipped pot.

 

This entire yard enchants with plant life and art complementing each other. Flowers and accent plants spill from pots and window boxes, mingling with all that art.

 

Impatiens and butterfly art add color to a plant situated along a walk way.

Impatiens and butterfly art add color to a planter situated along a walk way.

 

I left undeniably inspired.

CHECK BACK FOR MORE POSTS from the Northfield Garden Club 2014 Garden Tour.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling