A Garden Paradise in Middleton

Inside and out, a family celebrates the land, flowers, food and art

Plants and flowers surround the Ziegler house. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Plants and flowers surround the Ziegler house. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Walk up the stone path to the Ziegler front door and it becomes clear that gardening is a passion for this family. But step inside the Middleton home, and you’ll learn that art, history and cooking are also intertwined.

Joan Ziegler is a horticulturalist and her husband, Steven, a landscape architect. Their son Andy is a chef interested in the farm-to-table movement, while son George recently graduated with a degree in art and art history from Lawrence University. Boykin spaniels Fen and Bella round out the family.
But life wasn’t always so lush.

“When I moved out here, I had never gardened,” Joan says. The Pittsburgh native came to Madison to study art at the university. That is, until she took a horticulture class. She found not only similarities between landscape and art design, but also a genuine interest in the subject.

In 1985, she and Steven moved into a late-1880s home, the original farmhouse on a wide property in Middleton. Living out in the country yet near the city appealed to them, as did a pair of giant bur oaks rooted in the land.

However, the home was in rough shape when they moved in, so the pair decided to remodel. “We wanted to keep the feel of the original farmhouse,” Joan says, adding that they opened up much of the interior space and gutted the upstairs, turning it into a place to raise a family.

The home’s style is casual and eclectic, filled with wood furniture and accented with Joan’s pottery, Steven’s pen and ink drawings and tapestries, glass pieces and other works of art made by friends.

The Zieglers have spent equally as much energy cultivating their seven-and-a-half-acre property surrounded by cornfields. “Everything was alfalfa when we moved in,” she says. “Now, twenty-five years later, we see the fruits of our labor.”

Today, the landscaping includes eighty to a hundred varieties of trees and shrubs and hundreds of perennials. There’s a fruit orchard, a garden of white-blooming plants Joan can see from the master bedroom, a garden meant to attract hummingbirds and finches, and a kitchen garden near the front door. “I love cooking,” Joan says. “That’s been really fun.”

A barn set back from the driveway is home to chickens, while a building that once served as a garage is headquarters for ZDA (formerly Ziegler Design Associates), the landscape architecture, land planning and garden design firm Joan and Steven run together.

The pair need only walk down their stone path to their offices, and clients often visit their property to get ideas. The gardens and landscaping change constantly throughout the seasons, so there’s always something new to see.

“It changes every day,” Joan says. “It’s practically an arboretum out here.”

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

Find more House of the Month features here.

 

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