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What’s It Like to Garden in Southern Wisconsin?

We think it’s a special place! Here are some brief thoughts from the Fling planning committee about gardening in our little part of the world:

Anneliese Valdes is part of the Cobrahead LLC family team, serving in sales marketing and shipping, among other areas. The Cambridge, Wis., company was formed to develop and market the Cobrahead Weeder and Cultivator—a multi-purpose hand tool for use in gardening, horticulture, and agriculture. Anneliese is also a talented musician, and member of the indie/pop band, Gentle Brontosaurus.

“Wisconsin’s winters are long and often harsh, but we still manage to have great gardens each year,” she says. “The summer days are long and warm, and water is abundant. Growing up with my dad’s vegetable garden right outside spoiled me for food variety, and I think folks would be surprised at just how many crops we can grow in such a short season. I just wish I could grow citrus here!”

Mark Dwyer is the garden manager for the Edgerton, Wis., Hospital Healing Garden, which he designed in 2011. Mark was formerly director of horticulture at Rotary Botanical Gardens (Janesville, Wis.) for 21 years, where he did a very regular horticulture blog (3,000 posts) for more than 12 years. Mark also operates his own landscape design company, Landscape Prescriptions by MD, does many presentations and garden writing projects, and spends time with his family in Janesville, Wis., with a laser focus on his new grandson, Miles.

“Gardening in Wisconsin is an exciting adventure each year,” says Mark. “I try not to worry about what I can’t control from Mother Nature (deer, inclement weather, Japanese beetle damage, etc.). I like to focus on the rewards of immersing myself in the garden, and the excitement of observing seasonal transitions, pollinator activity, vegetables ripening, cloying fragrances, and so much more. While the act of gardening has its own rewards, the goal of inspiring and encouraging children to garden continues every year with my children (two daughters) and grandson. Wisconsin is a fabulous state with beautiful public gardens, parks, and a long agricultural history.”

Lucy Saunders is a food and beer writer, and author of five cookbooks, including “The Best of American Beer & Food” and “Dinner in the Beer Garden” (available on Kindle), which includes destination profiles of some of the most amazing beer gardens in the U.S. She has volunteered at the Madison Garden Show and the Great Taste of the Midwest (one of Madison’s biggest and best beer festivals). And she serves on the board for the beer education program at the College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

“In addition to writing, teaching, and cooking,” she says, “I also love gardening and growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. And sharing these with friends through beer pairings and recipes, which is just what ‘Dinner in the Beer Garden’ is all about.”

Beth Stetenfeld is a writer, editor, and master naturalist volunteer and instructor. She began her botanical/nature/gardening blog,, in 2010. Beth writes and edits for numerous clients, including Northern Gardener, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, independent book writers, and many more. Through her Wisconsin Master Naturalist program involvement, she participates in continuing education, wildlife surveys, and promotional projects.

“Gardening in Southern Wisconsin is mostly pure joy,” she describes. “The soil, the warm summers, the plants that thrive here—they all contribute to experiences that induce deep peace and contentment. Most days during May through October, I can’t imagine anything more enjoyable than gardening, hiking, and spending time outdoors in this part of the world. And from November through April, there’s a little break for enjoying other hobbies, caring for indoor and overwintered plants, and planning for the next growing season.”

Visit this link to register for the Madison Fling!


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