Garden Photo of the Day

The gardens at Oakwood Village Prairie Ridge in Wisconsin

"Wine & Lime" Pioneer Prairie display late July. Left to right and front to back: 'Trailing Rose' and 'Wasabi' coleus, parrot's beak, Calibrachoa Superbells® Yellow Chiffon , Talinum 'Limon', Cordyline 'Festival Grass' peeking out, Persian shield, Stipa 'Pony Tails' grass, Iresine 'Purple Lady', 'Persian Queen' geranium, 'Margarite' sweet potato vine, 'Big Red Judy' coleus, and then more of the same. Baskets - Calibrachoa Superbells® Yellow Chiffon, Grape Punch & Pink. Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Chris Neumann

Today’s photos are from Chris Neumann. He says, “I am the Lead Horticulturist at Oakwood Village Prairie Ridge, a non-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community on the northeast side of Madison, Wisconsin. We have a complete continuum of care with independent living, assisted living, memory care, and a skilled nursing facility.

“Wine & Lime” Setting up the first display at Settler’s Ridge. The cedar planters are last year. I had one volunteer who did most of the work building them. The pots were planted earlier by volunteers and staff and moved into position. The small tree in the center is tropical smoke bush (Euphorbia cotinifolia).

“Oakwood has two campuses in Madison, the west campus being 65 years old and situated in an oak woods. Our campus was built 14 years ago on 17 acres of former agricultural land. Good thing the other campus was built first or we might be named Cornfield Village.

“Wine & Lime” Settler’s Ridge display late August.

“As Lead Horticulturist, I lead two interns in the summer, various volunteers throughout the year, and myself in between. I also supervise the contracted landscape company that does the mowing in the summer and plowing in the winter. I work with other members of the Life Enrichment team to provide monthly garden groups for the different resident populations and to make sure we have gardening opportunities for all residents who would like them.

“Wine & Lime” – Close up. ‘Margarita’ sweet potato vine, Calibrachoa Superbells® Pink, Iresine ‘Purple Lady’, Parrot’s Beak, and Coleus ‘Dipt in Wine’, ‘Trailing Rose’, and ‘Big Red Judy’

“The campus was built with over a mile of perennial and shrub borders that wrap around all the buildings. We also plant some beds and lots of containers with annuals and tropicals. I have thousands of photos taken over the 10 years I have been here. My problem is to limit what I send.

“Wine & Lime” – Close up. ‘Red Star’ cordyline,’ Margarita’ sweet potato vine, tropical smoke bush, ‘Dipt in Wine’ coleus, Hibiscus ‘Mahogany Splendor’.

“To start, I thought I would send the two container plantings that are the most fun for my interns and I to plan and build. These are the summer and fall displays in front of Pioneer Prairie and Settler’s Ridge, our two independent living apartment buildings.”

“Wine & Lime” – Close up. Stipa ‘Pony Tails’ grass, ‘Margarita’ and ‘Blackie’ sweet potato vines, ‘Big Red Judy’, ‘Wasabi’, & ‘Trailing Rose’ coleus

These are great, Chris!! I can’t wait to see more.

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“Wine & Lime” Settler’s Ridge display, beginning of October. Mums swapped for hanging calis. Sweet potatoes and coleus have gone crazy.
“Sawing Logs” Settler’s Ridge. Mums, asters, prairie grasses, flowering kale, ‘Redbor’ kale, ‘Dinosaur’ kale, various and sundry other plants snuck in, pumpkins, heirloom pumpkins, decorative squash, guy sleeping on the job, and various pieces of old farm equipment.
“Sawing Logs” Settler’s Ridge. Close up fall display. Fall mums, ‘Nagoya Mix’ ornamental kale, pumpkins, blue Hubbard squash on antique slip scraper. Surrounding are ‘Henry III Pink’ & ‘Peter III Blue’ asters, ‘Redbor’ kale, Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’. The grasses at the back are ‘Indian Warrior’ big bluestem, ‘Prairie Fire’ switchgrass and ‘Indian Steel’ Indian grass,
“Sawing Logs”
“Wine & Lime” Pioneer Prairie display in late July. The displays are planted in the round (but I don’t have any good shots of the sides facing the buildings.)
“Sawing Logs” Pioneer Prairie. I like how the shapes of the pulley, wagon wheel, and grinder echo each other and the round pumpkins and ornamental kale.

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View Comments


  1. perenniallycrazy 04/25/2014

    Simply outstanding Chris and oh, sooooo much fun!!! Can't wait to see more.

  2. perenniallycrazy 04/25/2014

    Simply outstanding Chris and oh, sooooo much fun!!! Can't wait to see more.

  3. flowerladydi 04/25/2014

    Chris,,, it is Fabulous!!!! There is nothing like Coleus and Sweet Potatoe vine!,,, and with all the other annuals you add,,, what a big statement! Wonderful!,, Absolutely love what you do with Fall!,,, I can imagine the residents must just adore you and your crew for all the joy you bring not only them, but everyone!
    Love the Wheels, saw, and pumpkin ' bumpkin ' napping, so much fun!

    Would love to see more! Thanks for sending! You are probably starting to gear up now with ideas for this season! Do you do anything for Spring?, what about the winter season?

  4. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/25/2014

    Great job and cool plant selections. Now I am impatient for frost-free days for container plantings.

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/25/2014

    Everything is absolutely gorgeous and must be such a delight to residents and visitors alike. I'll bet the fall display is a special hit with youngsters (and the young at heart) visiting grandparents and great-grandparents.
    I'm definitely looking forward to seeing pictures of those borders, Chris so I hope you have a chance to send them our way.

  6. wGardens 04/25/2014

    FABULOUS! What a wonderful sense of design and creativity! I love your selections and placements. Looking forward to more photos this season. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. tractor1 04/25/2014

    Oh yes, I'll have a chianti spritzer with lime... great color combination... and all those gourds are fabulous. I must see everything. A superb job you're doing, Chris, thank you.

  8. bee1nine 04/25/2014

    Gorgeous showcase groupings of the "Wine & Lime" display!
    Beautifully symmetrical and coordinating in plant colors in
    every way. Also enjoyed the delightfully creative "Sawing Logs" fall display. So colorful and fun indeed!
    Thank you Chris, Look forward to more!!

  9. wittyone 04/25/2014

    Oh, this is beautiful and clever. I love the pumpkin guy resting after all his hard work. When we lived in Madison one of our elderly neighbors moved to Oakwood Village and after we moved I always went to visit her when we returned to visit relatives in Madison. It's really a nice facility and all this landscaping and flowerscaping makes it even more inviting. How nice that you create opportunities for the residents to actually participate in some of the ongoing planting and plant care.

  10. sheila_schultz 04/25/2014

    Lucky, lucky residents to have such wonderful plantings and whimsey surrounding them. Those that were gardeners in the past can continue their love for digging in the dirt... that passion never totally goes away. What a gift.

  11. GrannyMay 04/25/2014

    Beautiful and creative! Chris, both your "Wine and Lime" and "Sawing Logs" designs are amazing! They show what can be done using containers and movable posts for hanging baskets - if one has your talent and imagination. Can't wait to see more!

    How large are the pots and planter boxes? Did you empty and remove them for the winter or use them year-round? I imagine the cedar would last for more than a couple of years, even left out in winter. Final question - what soil and fertilizer do you use to get such huge and healthy plants?

  12. gramamarg 04/25/2014

    I live in the madison area and this place is great. when i can't do my garden anymore i plan to go there and know i may be able to continue in some way.
    love the snoozing pumpkin man.

  13. Chris_N 04/26/2014

    Thank you for all the compliments. Oakwood Village really understands the therapeutic properties of gardens and gardening.

    FlowerLadyDi - Most of our spring displays are bulbs and early flowerers like hellebores in beds. I do start tulips in pots. I try to do some other pots but we don't have a greenhouse and it's hard to find larger spring annuals locally. Winter displays are a little more subtle - evergreen boughs, red-twig dogwood and kerria branches, with other natural highlights. I've talked to one of our Life Enrichment directors and we think we can spice it up a bit more without getting too carried away (no rotating, flashing light displays or glowing, inflatable penguins.)

    GrannyMay - The pots are 20 and 24 inch rounds and squares. They are heavy plastic that look like terra cotta. Most of them we move inside for the winter but some sit out all year round. Plastic works for us because it doesn't crack in the Wisconsin winter, it's much lighter than terra cotta and, when I accidentally flip one over trying to move it with a hand truck, it doesn't break.

    I try not to move the cedar boxes much because they ARE heavy. The boxes are actually double shelled. There is an inner box made of pressure-treated plywood (which no longer contains arsenic like the old stuff did) and an outer box of cedar built using rain-screen construction. (Check Fine Homebuilding's site to find out what the heck 'rain screen' construction is.) Since the cedar is not in direct contact with the soil, the boxes will last for years.

    We use a well draining, commercial soil-less potting mix that uses coir as a substitute for some of the peat. For some large plants I'll add a little compost. We also add a slow release fertilizer to the mix and fertilize with a liquid fertilizer every two weeks. One of the pluses of using large pots is that, once the plants are well established, we only have to water them twice a week.

  14. dirtgirl1949 04/26/2014

    What an amazing display and how wonderful for the residents to be surrounded by this beautiful scenery. Well done to all those involved. Would be happy to see lots more photos from this stunning retirement community gardens.

  15. wGardens 04/26/2014

    Again, SUPERB!, Chris. And I want to thank you for the interesting info. Keep us "in the loop" with more photos... we LOVE 'em!

  16. GrannyMay 04/26/2014

    Thanks for answering my questions Chris. Hope to see more photos soon!

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