Hoerr Schaudt’s design for the garden was intended to serve as an extension of the historic museum built in the 1920s in the style of an English country estate. Organized along a central axis, the garden’s main lawn is flanked by a four-season border garden that acts as a gallery wall with a rotating exhibition of flora, providing seasonal interest throughout the year.
When the historic Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh Wisconsin completed its master plan in 2010, one of the primary recommendations was the formation of a new outdoor space that would expand programming of the museum to create a unique destination for residents and visitors to the Central Wisconsin region. This vision manifested in the Formal Garden: a classically designed symmetrical walled garden utilizing four-season planting to create a serene gathering space for the entire year.
With the original home dating to the 1920s and inspired by the romantic country estates of England, the garden was intended to be a direct extension of the museum. Today, the property is an arts center and events destination, serving as a one of the premier cultural destinations for the community.
Spanning nearly one hundred yards along the eastern edge of the property, the new space was designed as a stunning axial garden, framed by custom-built pergolas and bookended by classical water features including a three-tiered cast iron fountain and reflecting pool that greets visitors upon arrival. Pergolas crafted to match the character of the historic estate are draped in winding Wisteria vines, while the two sloped banks composing the interior shoulders of the garden serve as a platform fora four-season planting design. The garden axis is terminated by a stone wall with a statue of a water nymph – the Greek mythology keepers of fresh water sources.
The palette of plant materials, selected through close collaboration with the on-site horticulturist, are regionally adapted, and serve as a demonstration garden for the community. The garden maintains interest through all four seasons, actively offering visitors varying displays: from spring bulbs to frost-hardy plants, summer annuals to warmly lit winter evergreens. In the winter, with gentle illumination after sunset, the bones of the garden become the centerpiece. In the summer, a bosque of six honey locust trees hover over the gravel terrace, creating a tranquil canopy of dappled shade. This variety consistently educates visitors on regional plants and cultivates an appreciation and connection to nature.
The Paine Art Center Formal Garden has become a regional destination, as well as a treasured horticultural resource for this Central Wisconsin community.