Slow & Steady Wins the Race: Discounted Shrubs

Slow & Steady Wins the Race: Our Discounted Shrubs

Sometimes it pays to procrastinate. OK, actually, we’re not really procrastinating with the landscaping. We were given the advice by a landscape architect that we should live with the landscaping for one full year before we make any major changes. While we wanted to rush out and buy all sorts of new plants and shrubs for the house this summer, we held back. And even if we had wanted to buy a bunch of shrubs, holy cow are they expensive!

As city boys, we had no concept of the cost of landscaping. In the dozen or so apartments we’ve rented over the years, landscaping was always the responsibility of the landlord. Plants and grass and trees and shurbs were the farthest things from our minds. Now that we’re homeowners, we’re getting a crash course in Landscaping 101 … along with a little bit of Economics 101.

On a recent trip to the local hardware store, we were delighted to see a sign announcing 60% off all perennials and shrubs. Of course, this late in the season the selection was somewhat lacking. Still, The Mister and I stood in front of the discounted perennials and tried to find something to take back to the house.

Digging Holes for New Shrubs | This American House

We ended up with two Purpleleaf Sand Cherry plants, plus two other shrubs and an annual. I actually thought we were buying three Purpleleaf Sand Cherries but when I got home I realized we only had two of them.

We don’t really know where these shrubs will live on a permanent basis but we do know that we need to get them into the ground before it gets too cold. So we planted the two Purpleleaf Sand Cherries in the side yard. Once spring arrives we can either move them or, more likely, fill in around them to create a bed of shrubs in our side yard.

Digging holes in the ground always reminds me of those Loony Toons cartoons when Bug Bunny would dig his way to China. It also usually gets Peter Gabriel’s Digging in the Dirt playing on a continual loop in my mental jukebox. Yes, folks, that’s just how my mind works!

Purpleleaf Sand Cherry | This American House

They may not look like much right now but the shrubs will (hopefully) fill out quickly. They are supposed to grow to seven feet in height and five to seven feet in circumference. And, again, if spring arrives and we think they should be moved, we’ll dig them back up and move them. At 60% off their original price, they were just too good to pass up!

Images: This American House

Prairie School: 508 South Beaumont, Prairie du Chien, WI

Prairie School: 508 S. Beaumont, Prairie du Chien, WI | This American House

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that driving around looking at houses is one of our favorite pastimes. Among the older homes on any given block, you’re sure to see variations on a few styles. Tudors and Victorians and Colonials are some of the most common designs we’ll encounter on our sightseeing jaunts. So when we come across a Prairie style house – especially one in great condition – it always gets our notice.

A detour on our way to Piggly Wiggly led us to this beautiful Prairie style house in, of all places, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. “Stop the car!” The Mister implored as I raced toward the Pig for nourishment. I pulled a u-turn in the middle of the street and doubled back to 508 South Beaumont, the site of this beautiful Prairie Style house. We snapped a few photos and then spent the rest of the afternoon wondering whether it could be one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes … or at least the design of one of his students.

508 S. Beaumont, Prairie du Chien, WI | This American House

When we got back home later that day I Googled around and found an old listing for the house. Here’s what I was able to learn:

  • The house dates to 1914. (That’s three years older than our house.)
  • The listing refers to the house as “Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired.”
  • At the time of the listing, the house still featured a number of built-ins, including a kitchen buffet and hutch.
  • The original hardwood floors are intact but the rest of the wood trim has all been painted.
  • The house is palatial with 2,976 square feet that contains four bedrooms and three and a half baths.

According to, the house was last listed for $199,500 in December 2013 and then delisted later that same month. The property history on also shows that the house has been listed and delisted multiple times over the past few years.

It’s always amazing to us to see how these big old houses are priced in small towns. Even in this difficult housing market if you could pick this house up and move it to Chicago, it would list for close to a million dollars. If not more. To see that the house has been listed for a fraction of that price is a testament to the shortage of high paying jobs in small town America. After all, we had to drive five hours out of Chicago before we could find a big old house we could afford! But of course we can only afford it because we have jobs back in the city.

But don’t let me get on a diatribe about the economy and the dearth of good jobs! This post is all about this gorgeous Prairie Style house and how we’re happy to have discovered it.

To see photos of the inside of the house, check out this old listing on Zillow.

Images: This American House