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Wisconsin Woman Charged With Having an Ugly Lawn

Happy Holidays . . . Louise Quigley has the seventh day of her Advent calendar marked for a not-so-warm celebration. She’s headed to court to defend her right to grow native plants on what some in the neighborhood think should be a traditionally mown lawn.

While she claims that in the past 20 years numerous people in her suburban Shorewood neighborhood have stopped by to tell her how much they love her roadside garden, that includes prairie grasses that grow to six feet tall, town officials say they’ve received “a slew” of complaints — that number as many as three a year.

“I put in some prairie grasses…purple coneflowers, goldenrods, milkweeds and butterfly weeds,” she told the local newspaper. “They are less work, they come up every year, they are pretty. Native perennials have all kinds of environment benefits because the native plants feed the native bugs, feed the birds; it’s the bottom of the food chain. You can promote the survival of our ecosystem and our biosphere if you plant native plants.”

The local code enforcement officers would have none of it, however. What does preserving an ecosystem and a biosphere mean in the face of three complaints a year?

Here’s the story: It’s the lead item of the week for the paper in the town of 1,500. When true crime happens, these guys are on it.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • Abby

    Hmm. Our city allows those kinds of plants, but they such a collection a rain garden. Of course, some neighborhood associations would NOT allow them, by covenent.

  • Molly

    Wow! I must be a serious optimist: I’m always surprised when people are _against_ nature. I knew a lady in Williamsburg, VA who planted a wildflower meadow in her yard (seemed to top out at 3 or 4 feet) and then mowed paths through it. That meant she could claim everything else as garden bed and therefore not “overgrown”.

    I wonder if that would work here? Perhaps mow the foot along the side walk, plant nothing tall near corners/ driveways (car sightlines) and then maybe cut a pattern with the mower to create a simple parterre? The English have a garden border tradition (look up Gertrude Jekyll {gee-kuhl}) of “abundance” in the garden, so there is precedent of this sort of exuberance in a planting.

    Do keep us updated! Thanks, Molly

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