Take a girl out of the country and she finds a greater appreciation for it. Growing up in Mukwonago, surrounded by farmland, I was fascinated by cities. Following graduation, I lived in Madison, Paris, Marseille and now Milwaukee. I had to leave to understand its charm. In the absense of country, I’ve somewhat recently acquired a taste for quaint/chic/authentic country garden centers, thanks to my mom.
Monches Farm is a particularly special little antique/gift shop/perennial garden in Colgate, WI, not far from Holy Hill (which I visit once a year in October for the spectacular fall colors). Drive through the Kettle Moraine, passing over the Ace Age Trail, and pull into the gravel driveway to a small parking lot. Funny how I hated that gravel driveway when I was younger… now it enhances the atmosphere. The brick red house on the left is overflowing with seasonal gifts and antiques, but my favorite parts are the greenhouse and the barn. I like the barn for it’s collection of bantam chickens that run loose but still stick close to their food, and I’m inexplicably drawn to greenhouses. Warm in the winter, hot in the summer, clay tile floors – what’s not to like? (With the exception of those huge spiders that also seem to like the climate…) What is it about a greenhouse? I think it started with the game of Clue – they always remind me of the conservatory. They’re romantic in a nostalgic kind of way – they’re timeless. This particular greenhouse is a crowded one full of green plants mixing with terra cotta and concrete. Cages of mourning doves add an unexpected surprise. Gorgeous. Doors open into the perennial field. Last Saturday the day lilies were in full bloom in that heat. It’s worth popping into the gift shop, and definitely worth the 1/2 day trip out to walk through the grounds. – NOSTALGICALLY YOURS, CMK.