Road Trip — Gardens are wherever you find them
Whether lodged on a hillside, planted by the roadside, or stuck in a strip of soil by a small town sidewalk, when you are on the road you come across gardens everywhere. Big, small, in pots or in the ground… for plant lovers, it doesn’t get any better than finding a new garden.
On a recent road trip along Wisconsin’s Great River Road — 250-miles of captivating scenery, quaint riverside villages, and art-filled shops nestled on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, I discovered gardens of all sizes, shapes and styles. (The route is part of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway which follows the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles through ten states.)
In Alma, Pepin, Stockholm, and other small riverside villages, sedum fills window boxes and petunia spills from hanging baskets. Gardeners fill beds with showy perennial phlox, coneflower, and hydrangea. Pots and planters hold geranium, coleus, ornamental grass, and sweet potato vine. Here and there, tiny succulents—perfect lime green rosettes—grow in the holes of bricks placed atop porch railings.
North of La Crosse, the midway point on the scenic route, steep limestone bluffs rise prominently from the river bank. It’s a challenging setting for gardeners, but, like Texans, River Road residents know how to make the most of difficult sites, as evident by the beautiful terraced gardens that stair-step behind businesses and alongside the highway.
In the hilly countryside east of the river, a patchwork of corn, soybeans, and other crops fill fertile farmland. Here and there, wildflower meadows boast goldenrod, Queen Anne’s lace, and assorted grasses. Outside Fountain City, a free-spirited gardener created her own Stonehenge, of sorts. The massive stone slabs of this megalithic wonder stand upright on fourth-generation farmland.
For plant lovers, gardens are like magnets, whether you find them in your own hometown or discover them during your travels. And, remember, when you are on the road the only thing more fun than discovering gardens is getting acquainted with the friendly folks who planted them.