Avant Gardening to Partner on Madison Gateway Gardens Civic Project
“I just wanted to find a special way to give back to the community that’s opened its arms to me, and supported my business for more than 30 years.”
-Liza Lightfoot, Owner and President of Avant Gardening and Landscaping
Running a successful local business for 30 years is a pretty big deal. Yet, what may surprise you is one of the ways Avant Gardening & Landscaping Owner and President Liza Lightfoot is planning to celebrate it during the summer of 2015. Liza is choosing to share her talents by helping provide a major makeover for a very public, but almost drab area along a major intersection on the near east side of Madison. The long hoped for re-do of the Gateway Garden, located on the northeast side of the intersection of Blair Street and John Nolen Drive, and in front of the Gateway Mall, is becoming a reality due to Avant partnering with the Blair Street Gardens Committee and Marquette Neighborhood Association.
It will be a dramatic re-design for the Gateway Gardens, and will include a reduced need for water, fertilizer, and maintenance; while also creating a destination for bicyclists and pedestrians. Liza got involved in the process while looking for a project to commemorate Avant’s 30 years in business, and will contribute $10,000 of in-kind gardening and landscaping services to it. Liza has always felt strongly about giving back to the community that has supported Avant, and the company already has a long history of contributing time, and design services, as well as financial donations to nonprofit organizations whose goals support the underserved through sustainable environmental landscaping and gardening projects.
Liza started her company after moving here from her home in South Africa during the 1970’s. “When I first developed the Avant concept in 1985, I knew I could make a significant contribution to Midwest garden design. Having visited many countries with histories rich in garden design, I came to realize that our region tended to lack the concepts of garden rooms, outdoor niches, vistas, and natural landscapes. Many of the homes and businesses I visited when I started my company had a few shrubs and maybe some yews and arbor vitae as foundation plantings, along with geraniums and daylilies for color. I saw immediately that the Midwest garden was missing an essential element – namely the ground layer of perennial plants to add richness, vibrancy, and year-round interest to the garden,” Liza says.
Fast forward through three decades of steady growth, and the company now boasts a talented team of experienced and licensed landscape architects and horticulturists who are experts in the field of commercial and residential landscape and design, maintenance, and construction. “Having such a talented, hard-working, and committed staff affords us this opportunity to be able to contribute to some special projects. We are honored to be part of the beautiful changes coming to Gateway Gardens.”
The plan, begun by landscape architect Bruce Woods, includes re-grading the area, creating retaining walls, walkways, and seating spots with benches; removing the ash trees and low evergreens; adding native grasses, perennials, shrubs, and trees. New garden beds will be added and planted with natives and other perennials. There will be several entrances via pathways leading to the seating areas. Work is expected to begin in August 2015.