When Jobey Clarke designed the gardens that surround her south side Milwaukee home, she laid out a long-range plan to create a beautiful and relaxing space by combining plants with contrasting foliage, those that came in different shapes, sizes and colors; and those with different bloom times.
She met these goals beautifully but said her gardens serve other purposes as well.
They’re where she and her husband, Troy, grow organic food and where their children, Rhyen and Rowen, can play in their tree house, soar high on their swing set, jump on their trampoline, hop from tree stump to tree stump, or watch the butterflies that frequent the green spaces.
It’s a space the entire family loves and uses regularly.
Jobey Clarke, who is a coordinator in the international affairs program at Marquette University, said she began working in her gardens soon after they bought their home in 2017. Her husband is a recreational coordinator at Milwaukee Recreation.
Back then their lot was mostly grass with patches of sedum and iris, a single lilac bush, and an area of buckthorn entwined with a red willow.
She started working on her shady front yard first, where she planted Japanese maples, shrubs, grasses and hostas.
“I really covet shady gardens that are similar to the Japanese-style gardens. I wanted to add plants that had impressive foliage,” she said.
They also added a picket fence.
“That was to rein in Rhyen (now age 7). She was a quick-footed toddler. But she found a way over and under the fence, so it soon became decorative,” she said. Their son Rowen is 12.
Next she created an area for sun-loving