Water Feature at Olbrich Gardens
CobraHead is a member of the Garden Writers Association – GWA. It’s been a great organization, as garden writers have been instrumental in helping us get the word out about CobraHead Tools.
The GWA is divided into various regions and we officially belong to Region V, which last Friday had a meeting in Madison. Anneliese and I made a field trip with garden writers from around the Midwest to visit four excellent Madison garden sites. In order, we visited Olbrich Gardens, Allen Centennial Gardens, West Madison Agricultural Research Station, and Epic Systems, Inc.
While Epic Systems is not on everyone’s horticultural radar, this private company has a wonderful sustainability story to tell. All the gardens were interesting and I took a lot of photos, some of which are posted here.
Roy Diblick of Northwind Farms
Roy Diblick of Northwind Farms in Lake Geneva is an expert on dry gravel plantings. Here he explains why planting in deep gravel beds offers a truly sustainable alternative to our typical method of planting in deep soil. Gravel plantings allow both the use of drought tolerant plants with much longer lives than most ornamental plantings and in most ways require less maintenance once established.
Looking From a Rain Garden Back to a Dry Gravel Planting
The Thai Pavillion
An Elephant From Thailand
Olbrich has several gifts from Thailand that are popular with visitors. To show off these pieces, the horticulturists have created a garden atmosphere that looks as southeast Asian as one could hope for while being outdoors in Wisconsin.
Looking Out from Olbrich Gardens to Lake Monona
Olbich is a large garden and we only had time to see a small portion. We went from Olbrich to Allen Centennial Gardens, which cover less than three acres of urban landscape.
False Alarm Rain Clouds
When we got to Allen Centennial Gardens it looked like it might rain, but the rain stayed south in Illinois and our drought continues.
Allen Centennial Gardens in the Middle of Urban Architecture
The Victorian Mansion Surrounded by Gardens
The Victorian Mansion which is the anchor for the garden property was originally the residence for the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin. If you don’t know it, agriculture is and always has been a big deal at UW.
Ed Lyon Explaining the Crevice Garden
Allen Centennial has 28 distinct gardens within its small area. Director Ed Lyon commented that while relatively small compared to many public gardens, the gardens have more than enough different features to keep him very busy.
- A Vegetable Garden Just Outside the Backdoor of the House
Ed told us that at Allen, the vegetable garden is getting most of the attention from visitors. That’s good news for us, and we hear that at a lot of public gardens.
Brian Emerson, Director of West Madison Ag Research
From Allen Centennial Gardens in downtown Madison we drove out to the West Madison Agricultural Research Station, where Brian Emerson and his staff showed us some of the work done under the auspices of the UW College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
The Center Trials for both the Ornamental and the Ag Industry
Grape Trials for Wisconsin’s Growing Wine Industry
After our tour of West Madison Ag Research, it was off to Epic Systems to complete our day.
One of Two Huge Solar Panel Arrays
We met at Epic in a visitors parking lot that was partially shaded by a huge solar panel array. There was an even larger array to the west of the campus. Epic also has a large geo-thermal network that contributes significantly to its heating and cooling. What impressed me the most, though, were the green roofs.
Not Your Typical Office Landscape
Epic Systems is fast becoming the dominant supplier in North America of hospital and healthcare software. They have 6,000 employees, they are experiencing super-heated growth, and their owner is committed to a work campus that incorporates as many sustainable features as possible.
These Walkways Are on the Roof
Playing Frisbee on the Roof
One of several green roofs, this massive area covers the main employee parking lot. It is big enough to incorporate several distinct gardens.
A Rooftop Gravel Planting
Roy Diblick, who talked about gravel plantings to us at Olbich, was the consultant for this large rooftop gravel planting at Epic.
A Green-Roofed Canopy
A Butterfly Garden on the Roof
I’m pretty sure the out-of towners had to be impressed with Madison’s excellent gardens and this is a small sample of the excellent horticultural experiences to be found around here.