ONALASKA, Wis. — There’s a nip in the air that says fall is definitely here. So it’s time to squeeze in one last trip to the pumpkin patch, check to make sure the house is winterized, and tuck in the garden for winter.

That last is no small task for Tammy Franzini, whose long, rambling garden backs up to newly refurbished I-90 in Onalaska. The work on the interstate caused changes in her yard and garden, and all those changes have been challenging.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
Impatiens, mums and dahlias mingle for a late-season burst of color in Tammy Franzini’s front yard. The impatiens are annuals she will have to replace. The mums are perennial and will survive to bloom again next year. The dahlias are tender perennials and must be dug, dried off and replanted next year. At the bottom, Sundaze Golden Beauty is a new annual Tammy tried this year that has given good and continuous bloom.

This was always a noisy place to garden, but with the reconstruction of the interstate came the removal of about 15 trees. Now, the interstate looks and sounds as if it is actually in the Franzini backyard.

To combat that, the Franzinis have attached wood fencing to the chain link fence put up by construction workers. While it blocks some of the bad view, it does little to block the noise.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
Tammy Franzini’s back fence is the first line of defense against the noise and sights of the interstate.

Tammy’s solution: “I put my headphones on,” she said, and lets the music drown out the traffic while she gardens.

And she does a lot of gardening.

“The weeds were terrible this year,” she said.

Erik Daily photos, La Crosse Tribune
FAR LEFT: Even when the garden is quietly green and dying back, Tammy’s homemade birdhouses add whimsy to just about every corner of the garden.LEFT: At this time of year, Autumn Joy sedum puts on a show when many other plants have died back.

The yard, which is located at the end of Court Street, has about 200 feet of fence line that borders the interstate. All along that fence are perennial gardens that have had to change in depth and configuration. Now, there is fresh sod bordering the gardens. That cuts down on the weeding, Tammy said, because the gardens are not quite so deep. It was a necessary fix because the missing trees changed the environment of her yard and garden.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
At this time of year, Autumn Joy sedum puts on a show when many other plants have died back.

Still, she shovels on, finding just the right shrub or perennial for each section of the garden. At this time of year, Autumn Joy sedum is in full bloom and the colors of her annual coleus have deepened with the cooler days and nights. Mums and dahlias sprinkle a wide range of bold colors around the house and fence line. And even the fading hydrangeas add an elegant drip of color with their mop heads of white, lime green and pink.

“I’m going to cut those and bring them in,” she said of the showy hydrangeas.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
The large mop heads of the fading hydrangeas are pretty enough that Tammy will cut them and bring them inside to preserve.

Also dotted around the garden are Tammy’s works of art. She loves birdhouses and has made several that are spread throughout her large yard. After years of going to craft shows, she got a scroll saw and started crafting herself. Now she sells her crafts and makes exactly what she wants for her own garden.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
Shrubs help cut down on the amount of heavy weeding that Tammy’s garden requires.

And she continually works on the plant and color combinations to see what works well, such as the magenta mums, red-and-white dahlias and bi-colored coleus that work so well in the front garden.

“I love it when stuff like this happens.”

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
Coleus is one of the annuals in the yard that has continued to provide great color through fall.
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