Tag Archives: Flowers

Montana Ode to Spring– A Walk In The Woods

…in honor of all mothers of every kind everywhere…

“If it’s wild to your own heart, protect it. Preserve it. Love it. And fight for it, and dedicate yourself to it, whether it’s a mountain range, your wife, your husband, or even (god forbid) your job. It doesn’t matter if it’s wild to anyone else: if it’s what makes your heart sing, if it’s what makes your days soar like a hawk in the summertime, then focus on it. Because for sure, it’s wild, and if it’s wild, it’ll mean you’re still free. No matter where you are.” ― Rick Bass

Sandhill-Crane-good

Sandhill Crane

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photo credit: fwallpapers.com

There are days in Montana when you feel like you are actually dancing with flora and fauna. On just a regular Saturday drive through the woods, in addition to countless critters, today I saw some rare ones:
A Sandhill Crane
A Black Bear

A Loon
A Trumpeter Swan
A Bald Eagle with a fish in its talons

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan

arnica

Arnica

And some springtime favorites:
Calypso Orchid (Fairy Slippers)
Glacier Lily
Oregon Grape
Arnica
Wild Strawberry

And my very favorite NW Montana tree: (the only conifer to lose its needles each fall) The Larch, so new and green among its fellow soldier conifers

calypso

Calypso Orchid

 

larch

Larch

lily

Glacier Lily

 

strawberry

Wild Strawberry

grape

Oregon Grape

loons

Loons

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I would love to share my Montana Muse with you at a Haven Retreat
2015 (now booking)

June 3-7 (full with wait list)
June 17-21 (full with wait list)
September 9-13 (almost full)
September 23-27
October 7-11
October 21-25

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
–John Muir

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My Garden Grows

borderI learned to garden not as a lady of leisure, but as a writer who needed a source of income and who knew that it had to be in the realm of creative self-expression lest it suck the muse dry.  So I worked at a flower shop in Harvard Sq., and later at a nursery in Seattle, and after that, at a landscaping operation.  I learned a lot along the way, and little by little I began to play with my own garden dreams.  I’d bowed at the altar of my childhood favorite illustrator, Tasha Tudor, in deeply spiritual groans over her lush tangle of flowers and barefoot ruddy-faced children, dogs and cats– a peaceable kingdom that I longed to one day create.  I wanted to be this woman, so self-sufficient and Yankee, walking barefoot in her garden, pausing only for the rigors of afternoon tea and a sensible nap.  I wanted to set up a writing table the way she did an easel, and use it all to inspire worlds from this small postage stamp of my creation in the physical world.

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I planted small perennial gardens wherever I lived, even in rentals.  Suffice it to say that there are a lot of perennial beds across the country, and I hope that they are still alive and well.  Perennials are both good friends and traitors that way.  The second I bought my first home, I planned out the garden, pouring through all the Tasha Tudor books I could find about her garden, and locked in on my vision:  a cottage garden, dripping in structure that would over the years, take care of itself.  patio_2
Honeysuckle would grow over grapevines, clematis would vine through ragosa roses barbed to antique metal trellices.  There would be show after show, each star introducing the next from narcissus, to tulips, to forget-me-nots, to allium, to ladies mantle, to lupine, to poppies, to peonies, to roses, to delphinium, to mallow, to rudbeckia, to monarda, and the final autumn show stoppers– sunflowers, aster, sedum, done.   And so much inbetween.  It would be a fine mess of old friends that would return every year, and I would welcome them as such, praying away hail for the easily bruised poppies, high winds for the hollow-stalked delphinium, and praying for ants for the peonies.IMG_0334

We had little to choose from at our rural Montana nurseries in the way of perennials, and the catalogues were a let down– the bare root stubs that showed up in the mail nothing like what they promised in profusion on their pages that taunted you mid-February.  So whenever I travelled, be it by car, train, or airplane, I would always bring home roots from friends’ gardens, wrapped in wet newspaper, and stored in plastic bags.  To this day, old friends who have passed on, are still alive in my garden, reminding me of the power of roots.  The power of vision.  The power of creating your own postage stamp of perennial friends who for the most part, live, even through the most brutal winter.trio

My garden has been a room in our home, inspiring mudpies, bedside bud vases, Mother’s Day bouquets, teacher appreciation gifts, strawberry jam. No matter what, I try to have something from the garden in the house. Because it helps. In their exquisite and tender elegance, flowers remind us that we are all root, stalk and petal. And that we all bloom, fade, and grow again. Unless it’s time to move on like my honeysuckles decided this winter after a 20 year run, sometimes even growing in winter!070 (2)

There have been years when I was ambitious, building a dry stack wall by  myself, or binding willow trellices to support the sweet peas, or digging up day lillies and soaking them so that I could release them from the grass that bound their roots, divide them and replant.  And years when I didn’t have the time or the back power to add even one bulb in the fall, or pull weeds in the spring, and there was one year when I didn’t have the energy to water them at all.  Still, for 20 years, these friends have grown loyally and religiously.  The garden then, is the outward and visible sign of my inward invisible truth.peon

May your garden grow whatever kind of day you are having!

Take a moment and meet these good old friends of mine:


Honeysuckle: May you rest in peace…
honey
We bedeck you with crystals from my childhood lamp.
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Garden Haven

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Come with me on an adventure of a lifetime!

Haven Retreats in Montana: email me:  laura@lauramunsonauthor.com

August 7th-11th (just a few spots left)

September 4th-8th (now booking)

September 18th-22nd (full with wait list)

This year, a miracle occurred in my garden.  It wasn’t a great year.  Let’s just leave it at that.  And I decided that my home was my safe haven.  So I took crystals from a light fixture that belonged to my childhood room and wired them to the old honeysuckle wood that surrounds the archway beginning my garden path.  And I decided that they were protection.  That in passing under that crystal be-decked archway, I would be protected, whether I was entering my home, or exiting it.  Every time I passed under, I took a deep breath and imagined myself surrounded in a white light that nothing or no one could permeate.

Fall came, and with it, the usual garden death and dormancy.  One by one, the last asters and sedum and black-eyed Susans gave way to frost. Then rain, matted it all down, their winter cover.  I chose not to put the garden to bed as I usually do, cutting back the stems so that in the spring, the tulips and jonquils have space to send their shoots.  I just let the garden blanket itself, knowing that snow would soon come, holding that blanket firm.  I’d pull off the plant blanket in the early spring when the snow melted to make way for the bulbs.  But each day, as I passed under that arch, the crystals hanging from stark, leafless, bloomless honeysuckle wood…I noticed that there were a few small branches that weren’t yet dormant. Paler green leaves, yes, and limp less-orange blooms…but still thriving.  November, December, January, February…they held on in the driving ice and snow of a Montana winter.  I couldn’t believe it.

It was as much hopeful as it was stubborn as it was a little scary and sad.  I worried about the whole vine, not taking its winter rest.  I rely on that archway to be full of lush orange and green welcome all summer long, and I feared that the honeysuckle was somehow trying to martyr itself for me.  But there was nothing I could do but just receive this feat of nature as what it needed to be.  I wasn’t sure what that was.   But I had to let go.  I finally resolved that it was a gift.  It was promising protection, year long, and it was getting its power from the crystals of my childhood ceiling light– one which I gazed into all my foundational years for comfort.  I thanked it every time I passed through.  Which meant that I not only felt protection.  But I felt gratitude too.  Gift after gift.  Day after day.

And this summer, in its twenty year long life, I have never seen my garden in such profusion.  I let it go.  And it took care of itself.   And even thrived when it wasn’t supposed to.  The lesson in this runs as deep as those honeysuckle roots.  Sometimes when we let go, the world holds us just a little closer, a little more bravely, a little more tenderly.  And hope abounds.

Please enjoy this slideshow of my garden haven, 2013 by clicking the right arrow after each slide:

 

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Spring


First a red-winged blackbird, and now robins. Is it really here?

Spring

by Mary Oliver

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her–
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

“Spring,” by Mary Oliver, from New and Selected Poems. © Beacon Press.

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Co-create Cake.


I wish I could say that I baked this cake. I didn’t. My writer/blogger friend Brigetta’s husband did. I don’t like baking. I’m not good at following directions and improv doesn’t work so well in that arena unless you already know the basics. I love to cook, instead, and leave the baking to other more patient people. This gorgeous cake arrived in my kitchen and at the last minute, I was moved to put the borage on it (the blue flowers) from my garden.

I believe in collaboration. Moments like these present themselves every day, and I am learning to join in the dance of them. Who are you? Why did you show up in my life? What can we co-create? I’ve spent so many years thinking I had to do everything alone. But so much of the beauty of life is in intimacy. Sharing. The empathic journey. So I am a new believer in co-creating. I believe in admitting when you’re not good at something and being okay with it. And I believe in creating beauty, however it is that you come to it. Today it came in cake. What can you co-create today? I’d love to hear about it!

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End of Summer

Last trail ride, last bouquet, last carrots.



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Diminutive Spires


i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
-i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth’s own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
-i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)– e.e. cummings

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Wet Day


There is something fiercely gratifying about hearing a sump pump working below you, every four or five minutes motoring from the basement bowels, and then the spilling waters leaving what could have occupied your house, bound for the filtering of soil and sand and rock.
I have been listening to that sound all day, glad we put in the pump after last spring’s 6 inches of standing water in our basement that took out the whole of what was once the Rec Room. I like rain. I am the daughter of farm people. I know the power of “a good rain.”

“We need the rain” was the solution to many soggy Saturdays in my youth. And the phrase I used to justify my children’s last week. It’s a sales pitch. And in forest fire terrain, it’s something they understand not unlike like the children of corn and soy bean farmers in Illinois.

But I didn’t expect the rain I got just now, in my house, not from a leaking gutter or a high water table, but from my own doing. I ran my bath, water on water, and went outside to photograph the dripping garden. I had on tennis socks and pocketed them into flip flops—very fashionable. Who cares. I live in rural Montana. And there is a world outside to behold.

I love how water plays on flowers.

On the fuzz of poppies,
the palms of lupine,

the folds of ladies mantle.

And when I returned to the warmth and dry of my house, there was the sound of sump pump. Only not where I was used to it motoring away all day. It was somewhere central and wrong. I listened and waited. My son yelled, “Mommy, it’s raining in the kitchen!” And it was. I’d overflown the bathtub!

My socks are very wet now. And my pride too. This is a very wet day.

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