Sunday, March 26, 2017


The Color Wheel Garden is a large circular garden (stretching 70 feet across) situated at the street entrance to the County office building.  The garden is planted in 6 sections to represent the colors in the artist’s color wheel or the bands of the rainbow:  Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet.  There is no other garden like it in the Madison area.   A tall bur oak tree stands in the middle of the circle. Click on the following link for a video of the Color Wheel Garden in bloom:  Color Wheel Garden Video

The Color Wheel Garden has been traditionally planted entirely with annuals. In 2017, the 86 varieties of approximately 850 annual plants created a spectacular effect, with taller annuals planted near the middle of the circle and trailing vines spilling over the perimeter. In 2018, perennials that are long-blooming and/or contain continuous color in their foliage will be added, partially funded from a grant from the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. The goal is to have perennials ultimately comprise one-third of plantings within each of the 6 garden sections.  The addition of perennials will also increase the garden’s appeal in spring, before the annual plants get underway.  In 2018, a paved pathway was installed around the perimeter of the garden to make it more accessible for viewing.

Priorities for the Color Wheel Garden in 2019 will be to plant the area under the bur oak with liriope, and to continue adding more perennials.

Color Wheel Garden Team
Team members are inspired by the planting combinations used in the Color Wheel Garden for possible inclusion in future gardening projects.  They learn about many varieties they may not have seen before.  In addition, team members learn about spacing requirements for the species being planted, direct sowing of annuals, proper planting techniques of seedlings, watering requirements, dead-heading, fertilizing, mulching, etc.  In 2019, team members will be assigned to 1 of the 6 color sections, with a minimum of 3 members per section. 

Sally Averkamp and Jo Stewart are co-leaders for the Color Wheel Garden in 2019.  Sally is responsible for the current design of the garden and has been a team leader since 2016.  
She became a certified Master Gardener in Des Moines, Iowa in 1989 and immediately began specializing in public gardens.  She has designed multiple public gardens each year since then, drawing on her skills as a graphic designer.  As a Project Leader for the Discovery Gardens at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, their team won a “Search for Excellence” award at the Tri-State Master Gardener Conference in 1997.  After moving to Madison with her family in late 1997, Sally began working as Project Leader for the City-County gardens on Martin Luther King Boulevard and has been managing the gardens with a team of volunteers for the past 20 years.  

A special thanks to Master Gardener Volunteers Jim Goodno and Dean Smith, who maintained the Color Wheel Garden over a period of 7 years upon receiving their training in 2008.  Their commitment to this garden over all those years is greatly appreciated, and serves as a model for the Adopt-a-Garden program established in 2016. 

To join the Color Wheel Garden team, contact Karen Allenstein.  2019 team members were:

Diane Flynn 2nd Year
Laurie Irwin 4th Year
GailLindow4th Year
Linda Seebree4th Year

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