From the Publisher

My Grandma Peterson was a wizard with plants. She had a little sunroom off one side of her modest farmhouse that was filled with them. Plants dangled from hangers and rested on the floor, their found pots set on plastic coffee can lids. I remember the spiky, funky aloe vera, a few varieties of cactus and countless green, draping things. There was nothing fancy about this space and its Depression-era thrift, but those plants thrived. It's what I remember most about Grandma.p>

Her green thumb passed easily down to my mother, who displayed her collection of plants in macramé hangers she braided herself or in whimsical ceramic planters picked up at garage sales and arranged on our bay window sill. She grew philodendrons and geraniums, ivy and ferns, Christmas cactuses that bloomed right on cue. She trained vines to grow around window frames and knew just where to cluster sun-lovers for optimum health and colorful impact. She even bathed them all to ward off dreaded spider mites.p>

Once, when my older sister Sue was young, she got angry with my mother and retaliated by pinching off the leaves of one of her favorite plants. They grew back better than ever, and Sue was hooked. She, like my mother, can grow anything, and has whole windows and sun porches devoted to her plants. They pass plants back and forth, share offshoots and discuss them like children: "Is that from the philodendron slip I gave you? It's doing so well." "My spider plant had babies! Do you want one?" "Do you know what you need here? A nice little jade plant."p>

My house, on the other hand, is where plants go to die. Sue made the mistake of leaving her precious charges with me once while traveling, and they foundered until another sister intervened with a watering can. "They need more than you think," she advised. Plants were gifted to me and died, over and again. My great-aunt's China Doll, the ivy I started from my wedding bouquet, a magnolia-all gone. It's no accident the plants haphazardly lining the half wall in my kitchen are succulents. If they don't meow or demand a snack, they are on their own.p>

I am in awe of those who have the patience, attention and devotion to grow not only plants, but entire gardens. All of us at Coulee Region Women are, and we are celebrating summer, new opportunities and growing optimism with this issue's theme: "How Does Your Garden Grow?" In fairness to us all-those with green thumbs and those without-we considered the many ways women promote growth in our community. We feature gardeners, of course, and the gorgeous gardens they produce, but we also lift up those around us who grow families, grow health, grow businesses and more.p>

The women behind GROW La Crosse, our cover women, grow a love of gardening and earth-grown food in kids as they cultivate school gardens. Amy Jo Moe combines the healing power of plants with a sweet store in Winona. Deep Rooted CSA grows tomatoes and, with them, inspiration. The Kane Street Community Garden volunteers grow an astonishing amount of food as well as accessibility for all who wish to dig in. Nurturing mental health is the goal of youth directors at the Boys & Girls Clubs, and business is blooming in Jackson Plaza thanks to women entrepreneurs.p>

Combine all that with flowers galore, and we think you'll agree that this issue blossoms with inspiration. It's certainly made me feel better about what I can and can't grow. My growing children, long-cultivated friendships and commitment to this community remind me that growth isn't limited to the cobweb-covered plants on my half wall, as I recently explained to Sue.p>

"Are you sure those aren't spider mites?" she replied. "You should try bathing them."

Betty Christiansen



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What is inside this month's issue:

One Bite at a Time
GROW La Crosse uses school gardens to encourage kids to dig into veggies and nature.

The Healing Power of Plants
Amy Jo Moe's Green Thumb Artistry brings sunshine and peace to downtown Winona.

It's Not Just About the Body
Exercise helps women of all ages build strong bodies, social connections and mental wellness.

How Does Your Garden Grow?
Explore the beauty of flowers from simple annuals to an Onalaska couple's one-of-a-kind daylilies.

Get Your Veggie Fix
Deep Rooted CSA grows tomatoes and so much more.

From Green Newbie to Gardening Master
Marla Cameron shares growing experience and love of plants through extension program.

Business Is Blooming
Jackson Plaza entrepreneurs cultivate a flourishing business community.

Feeding the Community
Kane Street Community Garden brings together volunteers to nurture vegetables, relationships and healthy eating.

Found Objects
Add pops of color and whimsy with "locally grown" garden art.

Healing Family Systems
Boys & Girls Clubs help youth grow healthy social and emotional skills.

Catch the Camping Craze
From tents to permanent sites, outdoor enthusiasts flock to campgrounds for family fun.


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