Several thousand Wisconsin visitors this past summer visited Kraftwood on the shores of Lake Machkinosiew – known sometimes by its more prosaic English names, Lake Enterprise. Kraftwood gardens, 17 years in the making, were, we felt, ready to be shared with all who passed that way, so the invitation was extended to all.
No garden can ever be completely finished; and that we have found through the years, is its greatest charm. But as a garden grows, it reaches a stage of being thoroughly at home in its landscape, of flowering to such beauty that it must be shared with any who care to come and enjoy it. Such a garden is the one at Kraftwood.
When we first went to Lake Machkinosiew in 1921, to establish a summer home there, we saw a rare beauty in these evergreen and birch wooded shores, a country haunted by the friendly ghosts of Indians, the Woods echoing in tradition only half-remembered. We determined that Kraftwood should continue to express this early tradition, as well as something of our own lives and interests. Every part of the Kraftwood gardens, the wild game preserve, the dwellings and the winding roads have been planned to this end. their actual creation, over a period of 17 years, has been a true labor of love.
Standing sentinel over Kraftwood, looking out over the lake, stands an Indian Totem Pole, Kwa Ma Rolas, the tallest in the United States. Though it was carved long ago by the Alaskan brothers of our Wisconsin Indians, and therefore is far from its place of origin, it is thoroughly at home against our northern skies, symbolizing the Indian spirit of the place. Of interest to students of Indian lore, Kwa Ma Rolas is intricately carved from a single cedar tree, towering 59 feet. Its curious figures and symbols tell a story of long ago, the family record and legend of a Haidan Indian family of Alert Bay, British Columbia.
Although it occupies a wide vista of lawns all its own, commanding an uninterrupted view of the lake, Kwa Ma Rolas is also the starting point and sentinel of the gardens which give us, and we hope others, so much pleasure. A rustic garden gate invites the visitor to wander through our garden paths. Lettered above the gate is the legend,
Let not thine enemy with whom thou has striven
Come into my garden, lest he be forgiven.
The natural rolling beauty of the landscape lends itself ideally to a succession of varied gardens, surprise vistas, quiet nooks and pools. As one proceeds through the gardens, so much a part of the landscape do they seem that it is difficult even for us to realize that the thousands of plants, the hundreds of varieties of growing things which make up the gardens come from many widely scattered parts of the world. Exotic blooms from the Orient, simple old-fashioned bouquet flowers, cacti from the American desert – flowers both rare and familiar meet and mingle with no discordant note. The paths which take one through Kraftwood gardens are flagstone or vari-colored tile walks, the stones laced with mosses and small flowering plants of many different varieties.
Borders of fragrant nicotine lead the visitor to a high-arched Oriental bridge over a lotus pool and into a sunken glade, A desert planting of cacti comes next in the order of the gardens – with many rare and interesting specimens of these curious plants. Stepping stones lead to dahlia gardens, where each individual plant has been chosen and placed for brilliant harmony of color.
Hollyhocks which range in color from shell pink to deep purple – black are massed to one side of path and wall. A rock garden, perennial garden, and rows of hibiscus follow along the Kraftwood paths. The hibiscus, exotic flower of the sub-tropics, is grown with great success at Kraftwood, although almost unknown in northern climates.
Great masses of phlox and zinnias, and a pool of water lilies invite the guest to wander to the far-right hand corner of the garden. Here stands an Indian tepee, characteristic of those which stood on Lake Machkinosiew many years ago. The tepee is flanked by a log hut, a small museum housing many Indian relics – stone mortars, implements of both war and peace, dating back to a mysterious and long-forgotten past.
In Kraftwood gardens special quiet nooks have been set aside for rest and contemplation. One of these is adjacent to a bird sanctuary, where the visitor may observe many different types of birds which foregather here to find food and nesting places. A sandy beach and a replica of Sanibel Island, made entirely of shells, are on the Lake Shore.
Circling the curve of the Lake, the visitor again emerges into gardens, also – hydrangeas, roses, and through an arbor to a formal garden of stocks, whose perfume pervades the garden through their long season of blooming.
Many guests at Kraftwood enjoy visiting the vegetable and berry garden, also – and find it interesting to wander in the bird sanctuary where young pheasants, ducks, geese, and many strange and wonderful water-fowl are cared for until they are ready to fly away.
The road which now winds through Kraftwood is in reality an Indian trail. It has been widened and made more accessible for the vehicles of the modern era [sic], but its ancient winding curves remain just as they were when Native Americans [sic] padded through the woods on moccasined feet.
In the center of the various dwellings at Kraftwood – where friends and neighbors spend the summer, is our Kraftwood Church. Each Sabbath throughout the season Sunday School services are held here in the midst of the beauty of the woods. All are welcome here as in our gardens, where we like to believe each guest receives a benediction and leaves some happy thought of his own to add to the beauty of Lake Machkinosiew.
— Pauline Kraft, 1938
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