Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi and other Natural Wonders

Joe-Gert Garden - Pilsen, Wisconsin

Pine Grove Road, Pilsen, WI

Joe-Gert Garden

While biking on a country road in 2004 I came across this roadside garden in a little forest surrounded by open farm fields. In the wind-break grove of trees beside a farm house stood a number of decorative signs or gateways made from wood, tractor wheels and bric-a-brac. Farther back in the weeds I could see a teepee beyond a collection of rusty tractors and gas station signs, not much different from other country junkyards of antique farm implements. The colorful homemade signs gave the yard a bit more of a public display feel than just a private collection, though whether the builder meant for visitors to enter the grove or just enjoy the artwork from the roadside was unclear. The garden was in a dilapidated state, overgrown, unpainted and deteriorated. Perhaps it was more welcoming when it was first built.

On the other side of the house in another little wind-break forest there was another elevated sign-like structure. A long crossbeam decorated with filigree supported a shrine with a statue of St. Francis, with hanging planters below made from old water tanks. Indeed the little grove was alive with chirping birds taking refuge from the bleak farm fields all around, a magical oasis of life gathered around this place. It was a wonderful spot to rest for a little while before getting on the bike again.

Sadly, in a 2009 image of the site on Google Street View, the signs and artwork were gone.

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