United States of America, Illinois, Cook County, Winnetka
The Metzler Garden (Winnetka, Illinois)
The Metzler Garden comprises two acres in the flood plain of the Skokie River and is prone to flooding from the nearby Skokie Lagoons during periods of heavy rainfall. The property is also vulnerable to deer living in the Lagoons. The owners added a wedge shaped lot on the north side of their original property and commissioned John Mariani, ASLA, to design a wide border of prairie plants, perennial flowers and shrubs that deer do not like to eat. Behind the perennial border a screen of pine trees was planted along the perimeter of the property to block the view of the larger houses that are replacing the smaller, original homes built in the 1930s in this planned community. A cutting garden was created nearer to the house that is protected by a picket fence but deer repellant sprays are also employed.
The plant selection in the deep border includes ligularia, bee balm, ajuga, rudbeckia, catmint, astilbe, Joe Pye weed, chelone, and shrubby barberry, chosen for their tolerance of wet conditions and deer resistance. The cottage-style fenced cutting garden is bisected by crossing slate walkways with boxwoods planted in the central corner of each garden bed. There is a children's play house and a small playground for grandchildren with shredded bark mulch ground cover to reduce muddiness. Foundation plantings at the house and play house include roses, peonies, Annabelle hydrangeas, catmint, euonymous and garden begonias.
The Skokie Lagoons were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps beginning in 1933. Previously the marsh land of the Skokie River's flood plain had been drained by farmers who grew horseradish successfully in the peaty soil. The peat fields flooded in the spring rains and would catch on fire in dry conditions. The Lagoons are made up of seven miles of interconnected waterways and kept free of wastewater due to the later installation of pipes, pumps and channels. The Lagoons also were dredged and deepened to improve the fish habitat, and are used as a recreation area for fishing, birding, and small craft boating.
Persons associated with the garden include Charles J. Kostbade, Jr. (former owner, 1929-1941); Mr. Packard (former owner, circa 1941-1948); Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Ellis (former owners, 1953); Werth family (former owners); Mr. and Mrs. Mark Fitzpatrick (former owners); Mr. and Mrs. Richard Newman (former owners of lot added to property); Spencer Solon Beman (Architect, 1929); John Mariani ASLA, (landscape designer).
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles about the property, the area, and the architect, and other information.
This property is featured in "At Home with Tradition: Color it Comfortable," by Joan Pavel Dardis in "Chicago Home and Garden," Spring 1996; and "The Garden Locater of the Garden Club of America," edited by Marjorie Knight Macrae, 1953 for GCA's Visiting Gardens program