Thursday, May 7, 2009


This is not the middle of the spring on the Mediterranean. This is the Midwest. Milwaukee, and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum's Renaissance Garden, designed by Rose Standish Nichols in the 20s, shortly after the house, fashioned after Villa Cicogna ( 1560s) in Lombardy, Italy. The garden's history of delay and neglect was finally resolved in the the late 90s and the newly imagined garden based on 16th century italian gardens was opened to the public in 2002. Of course the day we were there the garden was closed. So we took in the view from above. The typical allees of italian cypress were recreated here with columnar sugar maples giving this garden a decidedly Wisconsin twist.

The Museum, once the home of Lloyd R. Smith, has always been a strange presence on the bluffs above Lake Michigan. Nestled tightly in between the earlier and more common gothic architecture of the Milwaukee lake front, it seems an anomaly. It wasn't hard to imagine Italian sun that day though. Spring had assuredly arrived to the Midwest. Cardinals sang it from every bud swelling limb it seemed. Michael took great pleasure in the extensive collection of iron work in the museum, as I continued to complain about not being able to enter the garden.

The crab apple orchard still held on to last years fruit though the daffodils bloomed and the buds began to swell. It was a trip back in time. Both back to my past and back to earlier spring.