Zillgitt grows 6-foot lilies; Garden Walk is Saturday

ROWS OF LILIES line the garden of Bryan and Lana Zillgitt, some towering above six feet tall. The Zillgitts are included on the Chapter N PEO Garden Walk on Saturday.

"Bryan Zillgitt and the Six-Foot Lilies." This might sound like the title of a new band, but instead refers to the Zillgitt garden at 516 N. Division in Madison.

Bryan and Lana Zillgitt's garden is being featured during this year's Garden Walk on July 24 between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to help raise funds for two college scholarships. In preparation for the event, Master Gardener Bryan Zillgitt has imported thousands of lilies from B&D Lilies of Oregon. However, the Zillgitts claim this garden has been many years in the making.

The Zillgitt have spent a lifetime honing their craft, which previously took shape at their home on Washington Street, just blocks away. Lana Zillgitt recounts the previous garden as "a jungle with minimal walking space."

"It was beautiful, but every time I came home, Bryan would be starting a new garden bed," she chuckled. When tragedy struck, forcing the Zillgitts to relocate due to the flood, it was a chance to start fresh.

Bryan Zillgitt used the opportunity to transplant everything salvageable to their new home, turning a rocky area into flourishing flower beds. He even worked through a broken leg, at times scooting on his belly from plant to plant. Zillgitt attributes his passion of gardening to his grandmother, also a Master Gardener.

The Zillgitts' garden boasts hostas, peonies and, of course lilies, some taller than Zillgitt himself. Ironically, Zillgitt credits the flood for the height and abundance of his new garden, claiming it to be his masterpiece.

"I don't think it could have turned out better," he said. The Zillgitts said that all of their flowers are blooming, despite the dry, difficult growing season. The garden has a wide variety of color, from deep purples to bright orange. The tallest lilies are a baby pink beset by golden pistils. Asiatics fill the space with fragrant aromas.

"When we first moved in, we never heard birds, and now we hear them all the time. They love the flowers, too," said Lana.

Antique decor has been selected for their garden, from an old rusty Radio Flyer wagon mounted high in a tree to a bird bath that sits in the middle of a small rock garden, made from the river rock that previously lined the property. Over the course of nearly two years, the Zillgitts have transformed the area, importing and transplanting.

They look forward to sharing their hard work and hope the community will enjoy it, too.

Tickets for the PEO Chapter BN's Garden Walk can be purchased in advance at Madison Nursery and Grapevines. Tickets may also be purchased at any participating garden on the day of the Garden Walk. Each ticket purchased includes an opportunity to win a door prize.

In addition, during the Garden Walk, Brittany Waldman of The Floral Shop in Madison will be presenting a demonstration all day at The Lakes Memorial Garden.

Other gardens this year include those of Diane and Bill Bruns, 1029 N.E. 8th St. in Madison; Jean Halpin, 6793 Zimmerman Dr., Wentworth; and The Lake Memorial Garden at The Lake Golf Course.