Acreage oasis | Living the Country Life
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Acreage oasis

A passion for gardening and water led this busy physician to create a tranquil oasis on 11 acres.
  • A love and a passion

    No stranger to stress as an emergency room physician, Joseph Shanahan says that puttering around in his yard helps him down-shift from the intensity of his profession. "I thought gardening was work when I was a child," he says, "but when I became older, it changed to therapy. Now it's a love and a passion."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • A parklike setting

    Joseph purchased three acres with a home on the outskirts of the western Chicago suburbs in 1986. A small creek ran along the back end of the property. He widened that to create a pond and began landscaping by planting shrubs, trees, and flowers.<br>Six neighboring landowners liked what he did so much, the sold him the bottom ends of their properties, and he created a parklike setting on what became 11 acres that they all can now see and enjoy.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • The gazebo

    A swan drifts in front of the gazebo where the Shanahan family retreats from the heat in the summer. In winter, the family camps out in the gazebo and keeps warm by the heat of a wood stove.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • A place for art

    With such a big palette to fill, Joseph began to incorporate his other love: art. "I just love big massive sculptures. My wife, Joan, wishes I had collected stamps or coins instead of 20,000- to 30,000-pound sculptures," he says with a chuckle, "but I just love them."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • Metal animals

    He began by installing works by people such as Tom Avery of Lodi, Wisconsin, who creates animals using salvage metal materials, and Father Lee Lubbers of Omaha, Nebraska, who builds sculptures out of railroad boxcar axles.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • His own designs

    Inspired by these artists, Joseph began designing some of his own pieces and having them built. One of his pieces, a large metal nut, occupies its own place of honor at the end of a daylily-lined walk.<br>The large-scale artworks add drama, and sometimes a touch of whimsy, to his property. "I'm lucky I have a yard where I can display them well," he says.<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • Made some changes

    When he bought the house, Joseph knew he would be replacing the roof soon. He decided to tie all the buildings on his property together and give them some personality by reroofing then with Irish thatch roofing. Leftover material was used to create a two-story tree house fir his three sons. <br>"It has a zip line that runs about 200 feet over one of the ponds," he says. "They have had untold hours of fun swinging down it."<br>

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • Pet birds

    Joseph maintains all of his property by himself with one other helper during the growing season. "I hunt and play golf and tennis, but the thing I enjoy the most is my yard," he says. "I have lots of birds -- swans, guinea hens, chickens, ducks, geese, and even wild turkey."

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • Cows on Parade

    Some pet birds graze near fun faux bovine, Chicago's famous Cows on Parade sculptures that were created to raise money for charity.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012
  • "It just makes me happy."

    The doctor has created a sanctuary where de delights in taking care of the land, displaying artwork, and being around animals. "It just makes me happy," he says.

    Date Published: April 13, 2012
    Date Updated: April 18, 2012

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