Lawrence supporting Homeless Connections by showcasing gardens at president’s house

Magnificent hostas, aromatic cat mint and splashes of daisies surrounding the Lawrence University president’s house will be publicly showcased Saturday, July 15 in support of efforts to combat local homelessness.

David Calle standing in president's house garden.
Master Gardener David Calle has created the gardens around the president’s home over the course of the past three years.

The beautiful planting beds accenting the president’s house, 229 N. Park St., Appleton will be one of six stops on the 27th annual Garden Walk: Sowing Seeds of Opportunity sponsored by Homeless Connections, a local non-profit organization working to end homelessness by connecting individuals and families to resources that promote self-sufficiency. The organization served nearly 2,000 people in 2016.

“Homelessness is a real issue in our community,” said Beth Servais, Homeless Connections’ community relations director. “The annual Garden Walk is not only a fundraising event for Homeless Connections, but it provides an opportunity to engage with community members by generating awareness of homelessness and communicating our mission of ending homelessness by connecting people to resources.

“We’re honored to be able to feature the garden of Lawrence President Mark Burstein’s home on our Garden Walk this year,” Servais added. “Lawrence’s active involvement with our organization, and others like ours, is vital to our community and we are grateful for their partnership.”

david Calle with potted succulents
Tropicals in over-sized pots line the patio.

Nominated by a member of the Homeless Connections Garden Walk Committee, this is the first time that a Lawrence garden is featured on the tour.

“I wanted to express our appreciation for the support provided by Lawrence University,” said Steven Schultz, chair of this year’s Homeless Connections Garden Walk. “We thank the Lawrence community for joining together to end homelessness in the Fox Valley.”


“We’re honored to be able to feature the garden of Lawrence President Mark Burstein’s home on our Garden Walk this year. Lawrence’s active involvement with our organization, and others like ours, is vital to our community and we are grateful for their partnership.”
— Beth Servais, community relations director, Homeless Connections

“For me it is exciting to see this as an invitation for the community to visit Lawrence as well as to work together to support the important local work that Homeless Connections does in helping people prevent and manage their way out of homelessness,” said David Calle, a Master Gardener and President Mark Burstein’s spouse, who created the gardens with assistance from Jim Sternat and John Adams of the Lawrence grounds team.

Calle’s design was inspired by the property’s 1904 house and his extensive travels abroad.

“When we moved to the Fox Cities four years ago, Mark and I wanted to create a garden where the Lawrence community could gather,” said Calle, who designed an arts and crafts garden with interconnected garden spaces and curved beds. “Most of the plants are original to the property or welcome gifts from friends and family. This new garden for an old house shows what is possible in just a few years.”

A series of three bird houses modeled after Lawrence University buildings.
Hand-built bird houses modeled on Lawrence University buildings are part of the “moon garden.”

The gardens include a front hosta border that leads to a side rock garden with succulents in hypertufa pots. That flows into the restful moon garden, with light-colored plants best enjoyed at dusk. A sculpture by Lawrence art professor Rob Neilson, set on an axis visible from the street, provides a focal point to draw visitors in.

Colorful shrubs, flowering bulbs and perennials surround the “Tent Lawn,” so named for the large tent used in the back yard for university commencement and reunion events.  Garden paths provide access to planting beds, a tall grass border to the south and a rain garden.

Close to the house, tropicals in over-sized pots frame an outdoor dining area. A series of bird houses, modeled after Lawrence’s Main Hall, Memorial Chapel, Mudd Library, and Wriston Art Center, and hand built by Calle, adorn the side of the garage.

“What makes this garden special is that it shows what is possible in creating a garden in just a few years,” said Calle, the garden’s designer, planter and care taker. “As a historically inspired garden, it also provides an example of a style that was popular in the early 1900’s when the house was built.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.