Whimsical garden gift shop graces Maiden Rock
MAIDEN ROCK -- The Green Queen is filled with the scent of diffused lavender and gentle music plays softly in the background. Recycled plastic rugs, which you would never guess are made of such a material, line the beautifully restored hardwood floors of Maiden Rock’s newest gift shop as owner Nikki Werner snips tulips and other blooms in preparation for a busy Mother’s Day weekend.
Werner, who opened the garden-themed gift and garden accessory shop the first weekend in May, describes her store as “celebrating the nobility of nature.”
“Nature is noble and we need to stop treating it like dirt,” Werner said. “We also need to treat one another with the same love and respect.”
The Green Queen features everything from essential oils, native plants, “garden jewelry,” hand-woven bags and baskets, yard art, locally made birdhouses, rugs and much, much more. Many of the items are vintage and one-of-a-kind, made by local artists, Werner said.
She is thrilled to be part of a quartet of unique businesses in the same block that have helped breathe new energy into Maiden Rock’s Main Street: Cultural Cloth, which features handmade textiles from women in 17 countries; Secret Heart Gallery, home to an eclectic mix of Mexican art and collectibles and original artwork by B.J. Christofferson; and the Smiling Pelican Bakeshop.
“It’s Maiden Rock’s turn, don’t you think?” Werner asks. “Pepin is the ‘practical sister’ with a grocery store and school and whatnot. Stockholm is the ‘pretty sister,’ and Maiden Rock is the ‘younger sister’ who has been waiting and watching for awhile.”
These sister communities, along with Bay City, make up what’s called the West Coast of Wisconsin, along the Great River Road.
Before The Green Queen occupied the space at W3557 Highway 35, it was home to Swan Song Contemporary Arts, owned by Cyndi Randall. Cultural Cloth also occupied the space for a time, before it moved to a larger building across the street. According to Werner, Casey Miller gutted and restored the old home at one point. She bought the property last spring and feels it was kismet.
Originally from Winona, Minn., Werner has lived outside of Pepin for 20 years. She and her daughter operate a business at Renaissance festivals called The Enchanted Hat, which features fairy, pirate, masquerade and jester accoutrement, among other apparel. Her daughter also operates The Second Star, a consignment shop in River Falls whose name originated from the Peter Pan movie.
Werner is also a member of The Hot Flashes, a 15-piece women’s band and vocal group, in which Werner lends her singing talents. They rehearse weekly near Stockholm at St. Sophia’s Church, according to their website (thehotflashes.weebly.com).
Werner’s voice has a magical quality as she speaks about the importance of featuring native plants in area gardens in order to nurture and nourish the three main pollinators: moths, butterflies and honeybees. Three paintings in her shop depict scenes of the fairies that mirror these principles and as she gazes at them, Werner admits she is a bit of a child at heart, that “fairies are my best friends -- they’ve never left. me.”
On that note, Werner plans to host workshops focusing on native plants, bonsai, garlics, honeybees and other gardening and nature topics.
Also in the works are plans for a garden yard and adding statuary and small fountains to the inventory.
“We are a work in progress,” Werner said. “Just watch us grow. There are new surprises every weekend.”
The Green Queen is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until the first part of December.