The Paine Estate
Tour the Gardens
This narrow courtyard frames a doorway designed to be the valet entrance to the mansion and the public entrance to the art gallery. Like a house’s foyer, the courtyard currently presents a welcoming corridor into the Paine’s gardens. It is also home to the sculpture Winnebago Lady by Wisconsin-born artist Donal Hord
Pennau and Below Garden
Tucked next to the Limousine Garage, this intimate space marks the entrance to the Woodland Path. The circular design is repeated in the adjoining Reception, Ceremony, and Tremble gardens to the east. Each year the central container and inner and outer rings feature a different combination of shade-loving annuals. The container also anchors the view east to the pool and bench of the Tremble Garden.
Plants that are native to Wisconsin’s shady woodlands, including many specimens of trees and wildflowers, border this winding path. Many of the wildflowers are spring ephemerals, like Bloodroot, Dutchman’s Breeches, and Trilliums, which bloom for a short time early in the spring and then die back.
The circular design of this garden is symbolic of the cycle of life and its passages and rituals, like births, weddings, anniversaries, and memorials. A yew hedge, designed after the Sissinghurt Gardens in England, surrounds the garden. It provides the privacy and intimacy of an enclosed room. The impressive iron gate originally separated Nathan Paine’s property from his brother Edward’s. The gate was situated where the wooden door can be seen behind, and now creates a dramatic focal point for the Reception Garden.
Designed especially for weddings, this oval garden is bordered by an array of plants with white, pastel, and lacey highlights. The pergola with Tuscan columns serves as a romantic backdrop for many marriages each year. It also functions as a “frame” for the Tremble Garden’s reflecting pool and bench.
Mark L. Tremble Garden
Radiating out from a central reflecting pool, this garden provides an oasis for birds. The various perennials, shrubs, and trees offer nectar, berries, and protection for “fine feathered friends.” From this vantage point, the pergola frames the view west, toward the planted container in the Pennau Below Garden.
U. S. Bank Garden
This garden takes advantage of Wisconsin’s four seasons by highlighting plants with brilliant colors and textures that peak in autumn. A meandering pathway winds through ornamental grasses, asters, anemones, and other fall blooming perennials. This contemporary garden style demonstrates the vast potential of texture and foliage as design tools.
The pergola provides a shady area to rest overlooking the dramatic sunken garden. Built in 2001, the robust wooden structure supports various vines that are hardy to this climate. The planted urn is a focal point that draws visitors into the pergola, but also anchors one end of a view that extends all the way to another urn on the mansion’s Morning Terrace.
Oshkosh Area Community Foundation Garden
Originally designed after the sunken Hampton Court garden in England, this formal, symmetrical space is accented by a central fountain topped by a pineapple, a symbol of hospitality. The two-tiered garden exhibits careful selection of plant materials to highlight color and seasonal bloom. The top tier consists of perennials group by hot colors (bright red, orange, yellow, and pink) and cool colors (blue, silver and pastels). Each year, the lower tier features brilliant displays of tulips in the spring and dramatic combinations of annuals throughout the summer.
Carriage House Courtyard
The Tudor-style Carriage House was designed as a four-car garage for the Paine estate with two apartments for staff above. The first floor is now used for meetings and events, and the second floor holds administrative offices. The Tool Shed remains useful for its intended purpose. The building was also smartly situated so that the west side would provide a dramatic backdrop to the Rose Garden.
The Herb Garden is an interpretation of an 18th-century English herb garden, with a symmetrical design that is typical of this period. Herbs have long been important components of home gardens due to their many medicinal, culinary, and ornamental uses.
To the north of the Rose Garden and stretching into the Great Lawn, this garden transitions from a shady grove of trees to a sunny area with a wide variety of flowering bulbs, like daffodils and lilies, as well as ground covers with different texture
Nathan and Jessie Kimberly Paine were especially
fond of roses, which have long been used in English heraldry,
and gave them prominence in the plan for their version of an English country
estate. Roses are selected for the garden based on their hardiness to this
area’s climate. Since
most are pink, white, and yellow, they are accented by blue and purple perennials
and annuals. The garden is bordered on each side by an Emerald Arborvitae
hedge with an additional northern row forming an outdoor hallway, or “allee.”
The general design of the Shade Garden complements the Woodland Path on the opposite border of the estate, but highlights exotic plants and new hybrids rather than those native to the state. Roman Head, created by Wisconsin artist Leo Smith (who also did the woodcarving in the mansion’s Gothic Gallery), is visible from various vantage points and demonstrates the effective use of sculpture to create interesting and surprising views within a garden.
This sweeping emerald carpet provides a breathtaking view of the mansion. Not simply a lawn, nor a “break” between gardens, the Great Lawn and its borders showcase a wide variety of trees and shrubs to provide year-round interest and to exhibit those that thrive in the Wisconsin climate. Spring bulbs, perennials, ground covers, and annuals accent the lawn’s border.
The Paines’ rose garden was originally located in this space, but had to be moved because of shade cast by maturing trees. In 1973 it was redesigned as a monochromatic (one color) garden, a traditional Victorian style. The palette of white, gray, and silver keeps the garden bright late into the evening, therefore, this design is often called a “moon” garden. The Morning Terrace also includes a pair of urns situated at each end of the gravel path; one anchors the view of the urn at the end of the Pergola garden, the other is an interesting vantage point from which to view the Shade Garden’s Roman Head.
Receiving sunlight into the evening, this garden is an informally designed “hallway” with an undulating floral border. The flowers complement the yellow Kasota limestone and violet and amber shades of the window panes.
The sweeping Front Lawn provides a dramatic view of the Paine mansion. The beds along the balustrade extending over to the mansion’s public entrance feature an inviting combination of perennials and annuals.
This intimate area offers a secluded resting place
before walking over to the Paine’s Prairie Woodland. Of interest is the tulip tree from George Washington’s
Mount Vernon estate that was planted at the Paine Art Center
during the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976.
A winding path leads through this natural area that provides examples of three native Wisconsin plant communities: Tall Grass Prairie, Oak Savanna, and Maple Basswood Forest. The wildflower display peaks in July, but is exceptional from June to October. The woodland plantings also provide a refuge for wildlife.