Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Passion for flowers blossoms into love affair with Montana abloom

Take a walk in a garden to cure what ails you

Dahlias recall the photographer's childhood with his mother painting and arranging flowers and his dad growing them.
Apples and sunflowers glisten in September sun.
MY PARTNER and the photographer for our essays has a soft spot in his heart for flowers.
No surprise.
His mother, Jean, painted them -- lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums, daisies, the exotic orange bird of paradise and hummingbird-friendly fuschia.
His dad, Bill, grew them -- roses mostly, and fruit trees including pomegranate.
Keller has been taking photos of flowers since his bloom-loving parents gave him a Brownie box camera for his 10th birthday.
AS A CHILD then teen-ager, he took thousands of photos of flowers --  climbing around on the beaches of his home stomping grounds, near Oceanside, California, where the morning glories bloom in the sand and geraniums grow like weeds in street alleys and up hillsides.
Now, during Montana get-aways, he is having a floral field day with the roses that are sharing their showy "hips," He's zooming in on cactus flowers, daisies, alyssum, hollyhocks and even thistle and catnip.
Here in the northern Rockies, at High Chaparral, we have yarrow and honeysuckle, snapdragons and cosmos, zennias and the largest day lilies I've ever grown.
High Chaparral in Montana provides a regal setting for flowers.
I learned to sort cosmos  from my Irish gran, who taught me to carefully separate the petals from the seeds, and store them in a dry spot for planting next spring. She served up small, tasty floral lore, including the little known fact that alyssum, her favorite border flower, is a fragrant member of the mustard family.
SO THIS is an homage to the beauty of flowers and those who tend them, a salute to the world of blooms which surrounds us. I am thankful for their offerings: the rainbow's hues, the fragrance of nature's finest perfume. To flowers! To those seductive enticers of bees and hummingbirds -- and to the blooms which lured a couple of lucky kids with cameras into the wondrous world of gardens thousands of miles apart.
A bee feasts on the daisy, which the writer considers one of her favorites.
I'm thinking of my daisy loving gran, now. And the kid from southern California is remembering that first sight of his dad's deep red and coral roses.
THE ONES Keller most fondly remembers from his dad's garden are the succulent red roses.  He says they "dripped color" and that in the moist ocean air, their scent seasoned the entire house and patio.
He doesn't remember precisely which one was his dad's favorite, but his rose "dictionary" runs the gamut of the alphabet, from  "Ain't She Sweet" and "Apricot Nectar" to "Beach Rose" and "Blast Off" to "Evening Star,"  "Double Delight,"  "Peace," "Penelope," and "Purple Puff."
 He recalls "Sterling Silver" "Sundowner," "Timless," "Tora Tora,"  "Valentine" "Veteran's Honor." He remembers "Whisper," "Zephirine" and a gorgeous peach-colored rose, one his mother painted along with pink and yellow dahlia. She won a blue ribbon in floral arranging at the Del Mar Home and Garden Show in San Diego County.

The writer invites the reader into her Montana garden and climbing roses.
KELLER'S DAD knew which roses had few thorns, which were climbers, which tolerated mediocre soil, which bloomed all season, which were prone to mildew.
At High Chap, we have climbing roses, which shoot their gorgeous deep pink blooms up a fence and onto a nearby cedar gate.
The combination of running water fed from an ancient spring box, and the proliferation of rose blooms -- now entering their showy red "rose hip" stage -- attracts visitors.
RECENTLY, we've had deer -- a doe and her twin fawns -- several varieties of bees and wasps, robins, wrens, finches and sparrows, and a brazen stellar's jay, who sings his own  vocal "thank you" to me as I walk by.
His dad's favorite roses, grown in southern California,
 influenced photographer's love of all things floral.
Now that autumn is approaching, the apples are ready for picking and their juices are attracting all kinds of bees and wasps.  Friends Laurie and
The pretty prickly pear blossoms are prolific in Montana this year.
John are watching the pups, Nick and Nora, while we're photographing whales and glaciers.  Recently, they picked apples with our mutual friends, Lana and Charles.
Laurie reported this morning that it was lucky none of the six was stung, with the proliferation of insects and squished, oozing aples.
We are excited at the prospects of "apple everything" -- Laurie's jelly is superb, Keller loves apple butter and I make a decent apple crisp and cobbler -- perhaps throwing in the last of the rhubarb which we've kept watered and producing all summer.
Above, the day lilies of Montana
are finishing their bloom, but wild
flowers still abound, at left.
Spring and autumn are my two favorite  "High Chaparral" seasons.  The air is crisp and clean, after most of the fires are subsided. The flowers' blooms are glorious as days shorten. Sunshine against the silhouette of the Beartooths is breathtaking homage to the floral bonanza.
We may catch the last of the day lilies, russet against the gate.  The cactus will still be golden in the light on the trail above the house, and there may even be a few chrysanthemums beneath the yarrow.

Seattle's signature Space Needle stands sentinel above Elliott Bay.

COMING SOON:  Our travelers wend their way back to Big Sky Country after a glorious two weeks on the glaciers and whale trails of Alaska.
They end their escapades with an Argosy boat trip from Puget Sound. Come with them through the locks into Lake Union, past the "Sleepless in Seattle" house boat and crab boats featured on TV's popular "Deadliest Catch."

Read about their base, the stylish Pan Pacific Hotel, with its imposing view of the  harbor and Space Needle. Watch for Wednesday and Saturday posts and remember to explore, learn and live at:

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