Category Archives: Native Plants

Chanterelles! August foraging I

Chanterelles in situ

It is August, the month of foraging, and almost every day I am gathering or processing fruit—or this year, for the first time, mushrooms. Last Tuesday I cycled the six or eight miles to the lowest pull-out in one of the canyons south of town, where the Hyalite stream slows and broadens by a little stony beach. There I met a friend and her two young children, with whom I picked a few service berries (Saskatoon, June berries) before  abandoning them all to go upstream into swifter, deeper waters, looking for black currants.

I hit the jackpot. They were profuse and ripe, hanging in long drupes under their large, grape-like leaves; I could simply pull down, stripping the berries cleanly from their stems, gathering enough for jam in minutes. There are also gooseberries, with much smaller leaves and prickly stems, but I'll take the thorn-free currants any day.

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Beautiful but Dangerous

My latest favorite wild-flower, Western St. John’s Wort. This patch grows amongst the rocks by Pine Creek Lake, at about 9,300 feet elevation.


Another lapse in posts; another back-packing outing, this time for three nights, two full days of flowers, sun, water, and rock. There could hardly be a more idyllic setting than this:


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Green Thumb Sunday: the lovely columbine

Columbine_lavyel_2 Believe it or not, this is actually a garden blog, and I actually do have a garden, in which, occasionally, I do some gardening, between duels. Given the rush to embrace the cause of Blackhearted James of Blackpitts Garden, I can only conclude that my days are numbered; so I have chosen to turn my back on the fray for a brief moment, and contemplate the loveliness in the aforesaid garden.

Having killed more than a few of plants in my time, often enough through sheer neglect, it seems a bit presumptuous to do anything that might imply that I have a green thumb. Still, barging ahead undeterred (that’s how I roll—or trundle; my sons insist that I trundle—) I offer here a few columbine from my garden.

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Green Thumb Sunday: Larkspur in the Rock Garden


My first Green Thumb Sunday, and I’m all a-twitter, like my older sister before her first high school dance–How ‘s my hair? How’s my dress? Do these shoes go with this dress? How do I look? (It turned out she’d done it all wrong–she’d dressed up, and everyone else was wearing blue jeans. Hmm.)

I do realize that posting a day late is not generally recommended. Anyone who wants to go into that can check the previous post.

For my debut GTS post, I’ve chosen the larkspur in our rock garden.


A collaborative effort between my husband and me, this garden is one of the most successful in the yard. It needs almost no care,

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While the gardener’s away, the cats will play

Pasqual_flr_2 This poor bedraggled thing is a pasque flower, and the culprit in its uprooting is this cat. (Does he look contrite to you? Me neither.)

Quark_pasqual_flr_culprit_3 I was already sad about this flower before it got uprooted, and now I’m devastated. Downright distraught.

Pasqueflower_2 Pasque flowers are the most lovely of wild flowers here in Montana, and I cannot seem to grow them! I’ve had one in a flower border for years; it sprouts each spring, but never flowers. Last fall I bought two more, one of which I put into the lovely earth in the new raised bed which stayed covered all winter. Pasqual_flr_1By the time I opened it in late April, the thing had already bloomed and gone to seed, and was well on its way to dying of thirst.

And then the cat dug it up. Perhaps I am, as Shakespeare said, Kate the cursed, at least as regards pasque flowers.

Has anyone else figured out how to keep cats out of newly prepared beds? I’m pulling row covers over mine, after finding cat poop in one. Grrr.