Former commercial nursery specializing in peonies, now a landmark garden.
Phillips designed and built the windmill and the entrance gate in 1928. (Phillips could be considered one of Wisconsin's self-taught artisans.) The windmill became the signature icon of the Sisson Gardens and was the visitor's registration site. The two structures remain as they were built, including the distinctive blue color of the windmill wings.
Phillips registered 3 hybrid varieties of peonies with the American Peony Society, named for family members. Tinka Phillips, Owen F. Hughes and and Kathryn E. Manuel, daughter, grandfather and aunt respectively.
At one time, Sissonís Peony Gardens occupied a five-acre interlocking series of gardens that were all accessed through this gate and past this windmill. Each summer, a June Peony Festival was held here with thousands of visitors, even naming a Peony Queen each year.
1979 was the beginning of the end for the gardens. Phillips sold the gardens and continued to assist for a couple of years but soon the back properties were sold and developed into residential neighborhood. In 1988, the commercial gardens closed forever. Grass, brush and trees soon overtook the garden. Peonies were removed, name tags removed and the gardens almost lost.
The remaining garden was acquired by the Rosendale Historical Society in 2005. Restoration of the garden began after a Peony Board was appointed. Newly built, raised beds were constructed by volunteers and peonies were transplanted to the new beds. Sections of fence were sold as memorials or given as donations and a fence was built around the garden.
Most of peonies in the garden were part of Wilbur Sisson's original garden. The Historical Society and the community care for the gardens. The garden is open daily, but the peonies bloom in May and June.