The Robert W. Monk Gardens: An Urban Sanctuary

What’s new at the Robert W. Monk Gardens?
It’s a common question heard all around town: “What’s new at the Gardens?”

The answer is: “A lot.”

If you haven’t been out to the Robert W. Monk Gardens at 1801 N. First Ave. on the west side of Wausau, recently, let us show you around.

Right off the bat, there’s new signage, stylishly done and carrying the Monk Gardens logo. If you walk or bicycle to our front door, you’ll see our large new entrance sign by the gate. If you drive up in your car, you’ll be able to park in our temporary parking lot.  

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Once inside, you’ll notice new signs identifying the Wildflower Woods and Memory Garden, and the Tree house, as well as educational signs on invasive species, invasive insects, stormwater, and the tree canopy. These instructional signs were made possible through an Urban Forestry Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. They convey the message that all of us can help Mother nature sustain herself.

As you enter and look to the right, you’ll want to venture onto the Memory Plaza, sit down on one of the benches, and maybe read a book or sip an iced tea. While the plaza isn’t new, the growth of trees, shrubs, and flowers around it is. Recently planted, they and the beautiful Marathon County blue stone boulders form a natural enclosure.

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If you look left as you enter, you WILL see something brand new. It’s the new Kitchen Garden Pavilion (“Potager”) now under construction. With the help of local foundations, generous individuals, and the Environmental Trust Fund administered by Marathon County, we were able to break ground for this structure in October (2014). The building will be finished next summer and will contain bathrooms (hurray!), a fully functional kitchen with pizza oven (hurray again!) , and an open area for picnic tables or chairs. It is connected to new water and sewer lines installed last summer.

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As you move about the Garden pathways, you’ll notice lettered marker posts. These were created as part of an Explorer Scout project, and if you pick up a map at the information kiosk near the entrance to the gardens, you’ll find loops that follow the markers and identify walking distances of 1/4, 1/3, and ½ miles. Hike away !
There’s more, and more to come. In the center of the Gardens is a large open area, surrounded by trees and our comfy gazebo. It’s the event lawn where folks can have events like weddings or family gatherings. Just to the south is the all-accessible Tree House, a generous gift of the Schuette family. Go to the top and look around.

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On the east side of the Gardens, beyond the Wildflower Woods and Memory garden, you’ll discover landscaping being done in preparation for the Meditation Garden, an area which will be devoted to Oriental themes, including an arched bridge over the pond and a Tea House.

The improvements will require financial contributions and effort, of course, and the Monk Gardens board and committees continue to solicit funds, donations, and volunteers.

This is where you come in. Join the many who have contributed or have become members, who have volunteered or participated in employee work days, or who have joined our committees. Best of all, stop in for a visit. There is something going on at the Gardens virtually all the time—snowshoeing in winter, Geocaching all year round, our plant sale and flea market in the spring, bird walks and bus trips in summer, our Autumn Fest in the Gardens in fall.

Attend our events. Experience the setting. Share the vision. The gate is latched, but never locked. Enjoy.