Nature’s Canvas

By Shelby Rowe Moyer | Photography by Shanna Wolf

If you pause and look closer at Stoughton resident Kay Rashka’s garden, you’ll see it’s layered with colors, textures and shapes. Everything that lives in her floral gallery was selected to paint a beautiful picture.

“I call this my therapy,” she says. “I like to surround myself with beauty. Probably because of my art interest. It’s like a big outside, outdoor art project.”

Rashka is a scientist for Promega, a biotech company in Madison, and also makes metalwork jewelry. Her connection to craft metal is clear in the sculptures dotted throughout her yard — a mix of artistic statues and old tractor disc plates that pay homage to her dairy farm upbringing.

Her garden is a mix of architecturally manicured and wild plants. She hates
to the mow the lawn, so she minimized the use of traditional grass as much as possible and planted beds of hostas and flowering perennials that look akin to the English cottage-style garden—untamed and overflowing with foliage.

During the 2019 Olbrich Garden Tour, some 800 people came to her home to see the sloping garden that spills down the hillside of her property. The ability to share this space with others is one of the reasons why she loves gardening.

“I love the curb appeal, and it was always a way to get to know people in the neighborhood,” she says. “I would be out weeding, and people would stop and say hello. I like showing off my garden just like I enjoy showing off my jewelry designs.”

View more from our August 2020 Gardens feature here.

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