Laura in Wonderland

Every now and then, you get to feel a little like Alice in Wonderland as you make your way through this old world.

I did Saturday afternoon when I found myself wandering through one of the most beautiful, whimsical gardens I’d ever seen. And, like Alice, I stumbled onto the whole scene quite by accident.

With one family member visiting an old family friend and another engaged in a fierce Sheepshead game, I ended up alone in Sheboygan, Wisconsin with a few hours to kill on the exact day that the Christopher Farm and Gardens opened to the public.

A privately owned estate, Christopher Gardens describes itself as a place, “where garden design, horticulture, wildlife, and education intertwine to create a magical place. ” They are not open to the public normally, but they did on Saturday for an event hosted by three area garden clubs.

I believe my lack of horiculture knowledge has been well-documented on this blog, but I do love beautiful places so I jumped at the chance to tour the grounds. While most of the chatter among my fellow garden walkers revolved around various breeds of flowers and fertilizing techniques, my thoughts ran along the, “Holy Cow! This is incredible!”

I made my way through the longest grape arbor I’d ever seen, to a pumpkin patch, apple orchard and vegetable garden. The 500 acre estate includes 60 acres of botanical gardens including an Asian, Renaissance, Kaleidoscape, Railyard, De’Vine and Ye Olde Tennis Court gardens. Every corner exploded with color and whimsy.

I walked 10,000 steps and took almost as many pictures. I found an area of historical trees just fascinating with species like the “Appomattox Courthouse Honey Locust,” grown from a seed of a 183-year old tree located exactly where the Confederate Army surrendered to the Union Army, and the “Moon Sycamore,” grown from a seed of a tree Major Stuart Roosa planted from seeds he brought with him on the Apollo XIV space mission in 1971.

I loved the honey bee hives located throughout and the swale water system, which not only looked cool, it also provides state of the art storm water management that drains to Lake Michigan. I appreciated the whimsical sculptures — an alligator crawling out of one of the ponds, two clawfoot tubs sitting on the edge of a prairie field, an apple tree standing sentry at an orchard, various bears lurking throughout the woods.

Bought and developed by Jay Christopher who, with his former wife Doris, created Pampered Chef, Christopher Farms is a marvel and I really felt privileged to wander through that magical place.

These tennis courts are now host to a few of the 325 varieties of hostas (among other gorgeous plants) located on the property.
A gorgeous koi pond.
I thought it looked like these sculptures of children were expressing delight at the ducks landing in front on them.
Goldilock’s cabin
Two clawfoot tubs in the middle of a prairie garden. Naturally.
I loved this pencil art in the children’s garden.
And how cute are these flowers spilling out of this paint tube?
One of the many spots for pondering.
I don’t know the names of these flowers, but I can appreciate them just the same.
Took this shot for my coal mining relatives.
This is a private estate with a train running through it.
I spotted several artists recreating the views.
I can’t remember what this area of the garden was called.
But I can tell you for sure that this is the Renaissance Garden. Just gorgeous.
Look at how well this artist is capturing this flower garden.
Saint Francis of Assisi looked perfectly at home in the Prayer Garden.
How funny is this alligator sculpture crawling out of the pond? Also, parking violators will be sunk.

3 thoughts on “Laura in Wonderland

  1. Thanks for sharing this journey through the Christopher gardens, Laura. Harriet and I had the opportunity to tour them a few summers ago when Jay Christopher (who is a Valparaiso University grad, as are both of us) hosted a Valpo alumni gathering. We enjoyed that very much, and it looks like a lot has been added since then!

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