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Gardeners present design ideas for Edgerton library

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 11, 2011
— Useful and beautiful.

That’s what Edgerton Public Library Director Sherry Machones wanted for her library, both inside and out.


Inside, the rooms of the 1907 Carnegie library and its 2006 addition are designed to let in light, help with the flow of patrons and create an atmosphere of quiet welcome.


In June, Master Gardener Volunteers in an advanced landscape design class unveiled their ideas for the building’s exterior.


The goal?


Create a landscape that is affordable, sustainable and useful.


“I wanted to do something different with the landscaping,” Machones said. “It looks nice now, but there’s no interaction with the patrons and the public.”


The existing landscape features a variety of tidy plantings and a circular sculpture of children playing. Machones wanted a design that would incorporate the stunning statue and include an area for children and a space for adults to relax and use the library’s Wi-Fi.


The idea for the class and the master gardener involvement was born more than a year ago, when the library hosted a gardening talk with UW Extension horticulture agent Mike Maddox. Machones told him about her landscaping quandary, and he provided the perfect answer: Get the master gardeners to do it.


Maddox held the advance landscape training at the library. The class covered a variety of topics, including choosing plants, calculating costs and creating a sustainable garden.


“The class was all about practical, community-orientated design,” Maddox said.


Coffee-table garden books and television shows feature landscapes requiring thousands of dollars in plant materials and garden staff to maintain it.


“We don’t live in that kind of world,” Maddox said.


The students “really hit it out of the park” with their designs, Maddox said.


Cindy Leverenz was part of a team that suggested rearranging plant materials already in the landscape, reducing the number of new plants needed.


“From my marketing background, I tried to apply layout and design principles,” said Leverenz, who teaches marketing at Blackhawk Technical College. “I was looking at eye appeal—white space, texture, color and color combinations and focal points.”


Challenges included dealing with a big building on a small lot and working with the beautiful—but very formal—lines of the building.


Using the roundness of the statue as inspiration, the team planned a kind of small maze or labyrinth featuring hidden surprises. For example, a child might discover a rabbit statue nestled into the shrubbery.


Plant materials in this area would be sturdy and kid friendly.


One the other side, shade plants already there would be rearranged for better effect, and other shade plants such as astilbes, hostas and coral bells would be added. Benches would give adults a spot to relax.


Another team suggested paving much of the front area with a new kind of permeable brick that allows water to flow through it.


Still another team designed a space that would encourage kids to explore.


“They really honed in on the idea of a learning and interactive garden,” Machones said. “Even with my background, I never really thought of a garden doing that.”


For example, instead of stepping stones, the design called for sections of trees. Kids could count the rings. A sun dial would provide a fun way to keep track of the time and provide an informal teaching tool.


Each design proposal came with a list of needed plants, rock or pavers, benches and other materials.


Only two of the library’s seven board members came to the design presentation in June, but Machones will present the ideas again at an upcoming board meeting. The final design, which has to be approved by the board, will feature the best parts of each team’s work, Machones said.


“It’s so fantastic how the whole project came together to benefit the library,” Machones said.


To learn more

The Edgerton Public Library is hosting another chance to see the landscape designs created by the advanced landscape design class.


From 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, the designs will be on display in the Community Room of the Edgerton Public Library, 101 Albion St., Edgerton.


For more information, call (608) 884-4511.



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