Tulips kindle memories of sister
By Mary Matsumoto
Mary Matsumoto photos
Sandy Welciek of Brothertown enjoys her tulips both for their beauty and for the fact they remind her of her late sister, Bonnie, who started the gardens with her.

Some gifts are temporary.

They’re eaten, used up, break, go out of style, or wear out.

And then there are the permanent ones. The ones remain new, year in and year out. The ones that keep coming.

That’s the kind of gift Bonnie gave to her sister, Sandy Welciek, Brothertown.

Bonnie and Sandy moved into their cottage overlooking Lake Winnebago on July 4, 1994. Sandy remembers the grueling work of moving, hauling in furniture and boxes.

At some point, her sister disappeared, and an hour and a half later, when she finally came back, Bonnie brought home flats and flats of flowering plants. It seemed that instead of helping her sister with the work at hand, she had been shopping at Honeymoon Acres.

“There were a lot of words,” says Sandy, who’s able to laugh about it now. “But it didn’t seem to bother her. She just went right about her business.”

Her business of planting gardens, beautiful gardens with colors splashed here and there, gardens cut in curvy beds.

Differing opinions

The flower beds were not exactly Sandy’s taste. She liked neat beds, with flowers planted in straight lines, the blooms organized into color groups. She liked keeping the yard organized in such a way that it would be easy to zip through cutting lawn on her riding lawnmower.

Bonnie, on the other hand, was an artist who loved colors dabbed a little here and there as if the whole yard were a painting.

She’d also take photos of her flowers, particularly the tulips, hundreds of tulips, and turn them into watercolor paintings.

“The tulips are in a million paintings,” says Sandy, “because she liked a whole lot of color.”

And like an artist who doesn’t want other people tampering with her work, Bonnie was possessive of her gardens, too. She didn’t want Sandy to interfere. Sandy could work in her own little garden in back of the house and do whatever she wanted with it, but the gardens out front were Bonnie’s own creations. Hands off.

“I kind of resented it because I was never supposed to touch anything,” says Sandy.

The house had been originally owned by a woman with Bonnie’s passion for gardening. The woman worked at Farm and Home in Chilton and was the presi-

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