Prairie in the Garden: Mettawa Manor Part II

Let’s continue our visit to Mettawa Manor, the garden of Bill Kurtis and Donna LaPietra. For me, the highlight of the trip was wandering through their 20-acre Tall Grass Prairie.


First thing that hit me: I have never seen so much Liatris (Liatris spicata, I think) in one place in my entire life. It was like a sea of fuzzy purple exclamation points. Other plants in bloom included Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata), Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum), some kind of Goldenrod (Solidago), and Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium).

Here’s a video Judy made that captures the birdsong and the plants swaying in the wind.

Bill and Donna started the prairie in 1994 with a controlled burn of undeveloped open fields. There must have been a lot of native prairie plants still in the seed bed because they were soon rewarded by a profusion of wildflowers.


Here’s a close up of some blooms: Liatris, Goldenrod, Culver’s Root.


And in the middle of the prairie, a patio complete with table, chairs, and mosquito netting. A perfect spot for a lazy hour or two of reading.


From the Tall Grass Prairie you can see a three-part mound, built with leftover earth from various construction projects. Each level has a place to sit and take in the surrounding landscape.


Here’s a view of the prairie from the top level. You can see Bill giving a tour in his stretch golf cart.


The Beehive Garden is on the other side of the mound. Here Bill tends three hives that generate about 100 lb. of honey per year.


Nearby, the Potager includes a mix of vegetables and cutting flowers. Cherry tomatoes and pumpkin vines grow up a series of arches.



The Circle Garden is adjacent to the Potager. This garden is full of lavender and a variety of Alliums. A bit austere, but restful.


The Meadow Orchard is also nearby, with a row of espaliered apple trees along its eastern edge.


We’ll conclude here at the Lily Pond. Mettawa Manor has a mix of features, formal and natural, with this pond at the more formal end of the spectrum. Even so, the Water Lilies, Papyrus, and other aquatic plants create a sense of exuberance.

There are a lot of garden elements at Mettawa Manor that didn’t get covered in these two posts. I suppose we will just have to try again after next year’s Open Garden Day.

32 Comments on “Prairie in the Garden: Mettawa Manor Part II”

  1. This garden seems to have the perfect balance of formal and wild. I love seeing all that liatris exclaiming that it is so good to be alive in the meadow. What does a person do with 100#s of honey? Merry Christmas to all on their holiday list.

  2. The prairie/meadow is astounding. Surprising to see the Liatris so much taller than the Culver’s root (which is also notable for its clean white blooms; some wild stands have a fleshy-pink tinge).

  3. I love the purple and yellow combination of flowers in your first few pictures. It’s a really pretty garden. I would love to have a Potager like that one, but it wouldn’t look right in our garden. Too bad. Thanks for sharing such a lovely place.

  4. I love the potager, circle garden, and espaliered apple trees! Although my garden is anything but formal, I must admit that some formal gardens are quite attractive and I’d probably give it a try if the setting was right!

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