August 03, 2022
When you arrive at a purple Victorian-style house on Rainbow Row, with a dozen planet-depicted bowling balls tucked between foundation ferns and coleus, accented by jewel-toned bottles on a bottle plant — well, you know you’re here. A tour of a fearless color-loving garden. This is the garden of Jane and Duane Miller, which I visited during the Madison Fling in late June.
The couple let their creativity fly, starting with collecting painted bowling balls.
On the porch steps, a white urn displays a metallic flower-and-cattle bouquet, tying in with the cat theme, perhaps?
This bouquet blooms all summer.
Keep an eye out for mail!
Enchanting front garden on the other side
When I finally tear myself away from the front garden and make my way to the back, a glowing purple clematis stops me on the back porch.
And another metal bouquet – this one made from old spigot handles.
Polka-dotted bowling pins form a sort of “bottle tree” along the back base…
…especially against a mirror-glass mosaic on concrete skirting.
The creativity of this garden extends beyond decoration, though. During the growing season, the Millers transform their angled driveway, which leads to a mostly narrow backyard, into a patio garden with an arbor, white picket fence and container plants — all conveniently on wheels!
Planter boxes attached to the base of arbors and fence sections stabilize each piece and keep things from blowing over.
Inside the portable arbor and fence, the driveway transforms into a patio garden and outdoor dining space. A table covered in colorful oilcloth is shaded by lime-green umbrellas adorned with a festive oilcloth-triangle banner.
A row of jewel-bright glass vases showcase pink and yellow flowers for even more punch.
Triangles of oilcloth on a string make weatherproof and colorful fringes for umbrellas.
Crayola-hued bouquets say, Party time!
Potted plants on wheeled caddies are easily rolled in and out as the season requires. On one side, a white pergola is a permanent feature and faces the house. I’ll get pictures of it in a bit, but first let’s explore the rest of the driveway garden.
Painted green and white and decorated with floral lace on the sparkling windows, the garage forms a charming backdrop to the patio garden.
A plant-tag wreath with hot-glued faux succulents hangs in the garage, adding to the gardener’s sense of humor. Now you know what to do with all those old plant labels you had shoving in a drawer. Get your glue gun hot!
A fairy lantern glows green on one side of the garage, backed by paintings, optical illusion Brick siding and climbing ivy.
Potted plants throughout the garden are “mulched” with white seashells—a beachy touch that keeps the soil from spreading when watering.
A short strip of lawn and a shady border along the fence lead the eye to an arched arbor. Among the hosts, a blue bottle plant with a curved spire of red glass adds color beneath a moon-like nylon lantern.
The ghostly form of a woman made of thin wire clinging to a tree trunk comes into focus.
Through the arch you see a secret garden between the two garages.
The Millers’ garage is painted cobalt blue, with more painted “bricks” underneath. Beautiful arrangements of vases, lime-green topiary frames and mirrored objects draw you in.
Even garage windows are part of the system.
A face-planter on the wall wears faux green tresses, and horns give him a forest-god aspect.
Tablescapes and window decorations
A potted coleus on a table adds more lime green against the blue walls.
A stained trellis above a low concrete wall – given character with painted faux brick – connects the two garages and provides privacy. Another round mirror hangs here and reflects the secret garden seating area. Below, a birdbath display of shells continues the beach theme.
A few posies stand in a shell-like vase in the center.
And it makes a good spot for a photo of a friend (hi, cat!) and a sneaky selfie
So many beautiful details in this little garden
Danielle the botanist is also enjoying the secret garden
Birdbath vignette outside the fence
And a sage-like head planter with a rock-star hairdo
Heading back to the house, let’s take a peek at the white pergola just off the driveway. Old glass insulators — white, turquoise, sea-glass green and cobalt — adorn the upper beams. They must be noticed when viewed from the upper windows of the house.
A concrete spire (I think?) rests on a clump of blue-grey river pebbles. Gray and blue pots and bottom spheres add to the color scheme.
Is it another bowling ball covered in glass beads, I wonder?
And here is covered in a penny.
A shiny blue cushion seems to be thrown over the stone expanse — and then you realize it’s a painted concrete stepping stone that leads to the pergola.
A few more concrete “cushions” are scattered over the pergola deck as well. Blue bottles blend with blue-white pottery and a white mirror to showcase the focal-point.
To one side, a copper-and-green coleus pot on a blue bench supports cobalt bottles on a leafy bed.
And a braided hibiscus tree is given a little beach flair with vertical seashell mulch. What a creative garden that makes the most of a small yard with rollaway elements, a secret garden and artistic decorations!
Next up: Ann Munson’s Forest Walk Garden of Rest. For a look back at the fantasy gardens and architecture of Epic Systems’ corporate campus, click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of my tour.
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