Perhaps it was having a pond at our house growing up that eventually led me to become a plantwalker. One of the most intriguing ecosystems to lead a child back to nature, I would sit, walk, swim and wade for hours in that pond, watching tadpoles, catching frogs, being nibbled on by fish, arranging aquatic plants into buoyant fairy houses, avoiding snakes, feeling squishy mud between my toes, catching bream and bass, floating on my back, listening to a heavenly voice that calmed and supported me. I wish I had a photo of that pond, but here is at least a picture of the house that held me as a child.

Eventually, I stepped away from the pond into the woods nearby and began building fairy forts in the forest. I remember vividly sitting under those trees, after collecting all kinds of leaves, twigs, moss, and nuts, and being overcome with a feeling of love and protection while I was creating these fairy villages. It was, at the time, my unconscious way of communing with Earth Mother and Sky Father. I climbed trees, explored the river bank, ate dirt, looked for skulls and bones of animals, dug holes, and hid inside huge azalea bushes for fun. All this time, I was hearing the pulse of earth but had no human mentors, teachers or guides to help me understand how to steward these things with care.  Still, being engaged everyday like this with the outdoors, I was building a relationship with the plant and animal people, that would, as the years went on, inform my heart and mind of how to be a loving citizen of the world.

I do know my father had a strong love of nature and was outside more than in. I followed him around and saw that he picked white pine needles and chewed on them as he walked around the woods, so that was my first introduction into eating something wild! He was an avid hunter and thus I grew up on venison burgers, sausage, stew, and steak; eating frog legs, quail, wild turkey roasts, snapping turtle and catfish stew, and I attribute all that to feeding my wildness.

In high school, I veered away from these things, thinking city life, fake nails, tanning beds, fancy outfits, rock concerts and aims for a showy car and a highfalutin job would be a much better way to live my life. This went on for some years, until I ended up in Bellingham, Washington, at Fairhaven College. I suddenly had a strong pull to get the hell out of dodge and applied to 3 far away universities within the US, not quite brave enough to travel out of the country yet. My mom and I drove across the country so I could have my red Bronco II there with me on campus, and I was quite a sight, I am sure. Dressed in a polka dot mini skirt, jelly flats, polka-dot shirt with padded shoulders, hair and make-up all done up, unloading all my pumps, fancy dresses, matching bedroom decor and several caboodles of makeup— I stood out in the mossy granola setting of Western Washington like a foreign implant.

Once there, it took about half a year, but suddenly I remembered my connection to nature again, and found a role in the student garden and fell in love with Joules Graves’ music about people of the earth tribe and became a member of the food co-op and learned about quinoa and submerged myself regularly on top of Sehome Hill, a forested sanctuary inside the city, and started to hear voices again from the plant world.

Oh, Stinging Nettle was the first one to talk. “You didn’t think I could sting like that, did you? I am not an ant! But I am the plant version. Drink me, take me home. Eat me.” I did, and I still didn’t really know what I was doing.

Soon after, I was at a friend’s house and had a terrible stomach ache. She offered me chamomile tea, and I thought she meant Lipton Tea, which was the only thing I associated with the word tea. Sweetened or unsweetened tea, with ice or without? This question had been posed to me at every restaurant I grew up going to, at my grandmother’s, at any church event- basically anywhere I went in the South. And I thought tea was the grossest thing, sweetened or unsweetened. I didn’t want to drink any of it! So I told her no, but she explained this was an herbal tea, reminded me the story of Peter Rabbit, and to give it a try. She poured hot water over the Celestial Seasonings tea bag and while it steeped, I held that warm mug in my hands and after drinking it, my tummy ache was completely gone! I couldn’t believe it. But I was now a Believer.

I was around 19 or 20-years-old at the time, and as I write this, I am almost at the half a century point of my life. The walk I have had with the plants has been a combo of crawls, climbs, hikes, runs, meanders, glides and strolls. I have walked behind, beside and under so many human, plant, animal and celestial teachers, that I couldn’t possibly recap them all in this story. To all of you not mentioned, I am indebted to you. To all of you that stand out in significant enough memory to include here, I bow to you for holding my hand and heart on this glorious journey of becoming a plantwalker.

My college companion, Leif, showed me you can buy bulk herbs at the Food Co-op and brew them up into tea. Dandelion, Burdock and Licorice roots decoction sent my DNA into memory recall. Cameron, head of the Fairhaven community garden, first introduced me to cultivation. But I thought having a garden was more about writing graphs on paper of what to grow, when and where, than actually doing it! Then Alison, my roommate in a Bellingham duplex, taught me how to ‘just do it’ without all that nerdiness, and we grew an abundant garden out back! As an intern with Michael Pilarski, aka Skeeter, of Friends of the Trees, in 1993, he made me conscious of the work that needed to be done to help provide for the next seven generations. Balm of Gilead, Cottonwood tree, led me into medicine making and soothed my earthly wounds. Taylor, the boy who stole my heart, opened me up to watching trees leaf out and flower and how to capture those moments with a camera. We spent many an hour in the darkroom developing prints of nature.

In 1995, I moved to Lopez Island, on Leif’s family land, with about 11 other people, as we attempted to ‘go back to the land.’ Ironwood, aka Ocean Spray, taught me how to bend its strong branches to make a wigwam that could shelter me for months. Leif and his brother Kier included me on foraging escapes that brought back cedar for smudging, wild onions for seasoning, chickweed, plantain, dandelion and violet for salad, Salal and Salmon berries for breakfast and aromatic pine needle tea.

Living outdoors and under the stars for months on end really got me submerged into the plant world. I was starting to taste everything and once had a close encounter with Death Camas, thinking it was an Allium. I stood before Poison Hemlock, realizing that this plant world could take me on a journey of no return if not careful. I was in awe of these beings who could kill me, feed me, clothe me, house me, make me well when sick, and give me the material for my favorite thing- writing. The influence they had on my life infiltrated every pore of my being. I could live without humans and animals (not that I wanted to), but not without plants.

Western Washington opened me back up to my love of plants, and then I came back South. In 1997, I lived with my grandmother for a summer and began speaking with the plants more. I made a special spot on her land— a place where I would go each morning and pray. One morning, when I arrived at the spot, I heard the plants screaming at me, “Don’t let them mow us down!” I jumped because it was an unfamiliar sensation to hear plants screaming. I told them not to worry— this was the back part of Gram’s land and she didn’t mow it.

I went to work at the roadside stand where I sold peaches and watermelons, and when I arrived back at the house, sure enough, the whole area had been completely mowed down! I went crying to Gram and shouted, “What is going on?!” and she told me that the bamboo was taking over and she had hired someone to clear it all out. I cried as if my friends had died, which they had. And I realized I had a gift to hear the voice of the plants and that I needed to use it well.

Some years later, I found myself in upstate New York, learning from a woman named Naomi who had Paradise Gardens, and witnessed what you could do with a piece of land to turn it into a botanical sanctuary. She taught me how to grow herbs and to celebrate birthdays with the seasonal foods of the garden; how to make beauty with spiral gardens and to encourage frog habitats and to leave some areas for the wild. Behind her house was a forest with a Blue Cohosh patch I’ve yet to see the likes of anywhere else. When I first stumbled upon it one May evening, I began crying. I didn’t know what plant this was, but it had such unusual leaf color and shape and the vibration it exuded was palpable. I sat there and wept in joy. It was one of those significant moments of your life that shifts who you are. I think in that moment, I forever became a plant woman.

I began collecting houseplants and turning my home into Jumanji. I talked to them and listened to them. Sometimes it is too much, hearing the needs of plants. Hearing their desires. It could take up all my time if I just solely listened to that. I would have not time for humans, and sometimes I think I may end up the old lady on the mountain who only talks to plants. And animals, too. I hear animals similarly. But I have sharpened my focus to be with the plant people.

When I found my permanent place on the planet, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, I began planting things outside left and right. I moved in and out of rentals for years, but that didn’t matter. I had the overwhelming desire to plant trees, bulbs, bushes, flowers, vegetables- basically anything that would grow, and tend it with all my heart. Grow a sanctuary and you will end up with a sanctuary. Wherever you go. That was my motto. And look where I eventually ended up- Herb Mountain Farm, one of the most paradisiacal places I have ever seen!

At 32, I began a relationship with Frank Cook, a plant man like no other, an embodiment of the Green Man, and by default, my relationship with plants grew deeper. He taught me to “Eat something Wild everyday.” You are what you eat. He taught me to eat the rainbow- eat foods that have lots of color- red, blue, purple, yellow, orange and especially Green! He took me around the world with him to learn directly from plants and healers and his very presence expanded my consciousness. One of my highlights with him was being in South Africa in a field of huge bushes, as far as you could see, and he said, “Do you know who this is?” and I said. “No.” And he said, “This is Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, in its natural habitat.” And I about passed out as I had only known Ashwagandha as this little struggling annual in my garden. We dug some root and it smelled like a horse, and this smell was euphoric to me. I slept with that root under my pillow for over a year.

Frank Cook in a field of Ashwagandha

Around this same time, I also met Hart, the man who would later become my husband and be the most influential person of my life in my walk with plants. I began working on his farm, at Herb Mountain, where he informally apprenticed me in conscious earth stewardship. And still is to this day.

In the forest, I am beholden by the plants and trees and able to observe and relax and be reminded of the mystery and magnificence of Creation. In the garden, I get a chance to play my hand at this creation. I love my walk with plants in both these ways. Sometimes I say, “I am off to the wild lands.” To get a break from the domesticated lands. Trying to cultivate—ok—manipulate earth into what you want her to be and do is hard work. There must be a balance for me in just observing the glory and abundance that naturally occurs without any human help, in my walk with the plants. I am a plant walker and will be until I die.

Not one of you reading this is without one. No one can make the passage to earth without a mother. Whether she be alive or dead, you will always have a mother as she is a part of you more than any other human, having given half her genes and carried your DNA to babyhood, if nothing more. And then there is our big Mama, Mama Earth, who nurtures every single one of us everyday that we are alive. And when the time comes for us to say goodbye to our biological or adopted mom, turning to Earth’s generosity and breadth of nourishment may be of great solace. It has been for me, since losing my sweet mama, March 2, of this year, 2022. My father caught the picture above, of our last hug.

Part of me doesn’t want to write about this at all, because it brings up too much pain. The other part of me knows that if i can tap into my grief, let the tears flow again and again, then I will be of much more service to the word because I won’t pin it up, numbing myself to the realities of this earthly cycle of life and death.
So I write.
I feel.
I weep.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. She did the standard treatments and it went into remission until 2018, when she was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer that had moved to her lungs and bones. She began Ibrance, a pill specifically formulated to target HER2 Negative breast cancer. She responded well to it and lived a somewhat normal life up until the end, which came fast. The day before she died, the hospice nurse (who btw was named Nancy Morgan Hart which blew me away as my mom’s name is Nancy, my name is Morgaine and my husband’s name is Hart) said cancer is often like that- you go along relatively fine and then suddenly you fall off a cliff. That was like what happened to mom.

I was in the Everglades, camping with Nadia’s school and without phone reception. When I got out of the national park, I had a slew of messages from my dad, brother, aunt— mom was not doing well and I should come. Once home, I made the three hour drive to my folks and found mom sitting on the sofa, on oxygen, weak and uncomfortable, but still able to engage and direct. That was Sunday afternoon. She died Wednesday.

I had told her from the get go of her diagnosis that when things got hard, please call me and I would be there. I couldn’t imagine a more honorable responsibility than caring for mom in her last stages of life. Once I arrived, I realized that she had totally taken that to heart, and though it was never spoken aloud, she had chosen me to be her death doula. My dad and her sister, Sara, were there supporting her already and she was awaiting a hospital bed to arrive as she couldn’t breathe if lying down and thus had been on the reclining sofa for a few days. She was not ready to admit she was dying, although all of us around her knew it. She had such a zest for life, always the first one up in the morning and the last one to go to sleep, fully engaging with family, friends and her church community, never missing a beat. She did not want to let go.

Before I left home to tend my dying mom, my 8-year-old daughter, Nadia, pulled me aside and shyly asked, “Is cancer contagious?”

My mom was as spirited as they come- her enthusiasm for life was what was contagious and people were magnetized to her because she made you feel Alive! She left her career as a social worker after her third child was born, to be a full-time mom, and then, like pulling rabbits out of a hat, she became a full-on grandma of 10, and managed the home affairs and larger family gatherings in such a way that you didn’t know she was doing much but now that she is gone, you realize just How much she was doing— how much she tended and kept running so smoothly that it seemed to happen naturally!

My mother was an earth angel.

Because she had cancer, and we all knew that it was terminal, I had time to prepare myself for her passing. In 2009, my partner, Frank Cook, died suddenly, and it was traumatic. But through his death, I learned how to live life after you have lost someone you love deeply, after you have lost someone whom you cannot imagine your life without. His death grew me. So when my mom died, I already had a skin to deal with it. Frank gave me numerous gifts when he was alive, and through his death, he continues to bless my life.

The house my parents live in was the old farmhouse my paternal great-grandparents lived in and where I had been coming to since a babe. It is the longest continual house of my life. All other homes of my childhood have come and gone. My parents moved into the house when my great grandmother passed, in 1991. I was close with her, Josie Bell, whom we called MahMah, and was present near her death. My mom chose to have the hospital bed placed in the same room that MahMah died- so returning to this room to court death again was, well, I guess ironic would be one word for it.

But ironic is the word for what eventually killed my mom. Her treatment. It was her heart that gave out, overtaxed by radiation and years of chemo and all kinds of other meds. But who knows if she would have lived this long after her diagnosis if she didn’t do any of that treatment.

At some point, Mom had written some requests for what to do should she become unconscious. We were able to meet them all.

The hospital bed arrived Monday. I have a super sensitive sense of smell, and that damn hospital bed smelled like an ashtray and it gagged me to be so close to it, hour after hour. I brought mom’s oil diffuser into the room and filled it with Thieves Essential Oil and tried to get that smell out, but to no avail.

Family filled the house- all of her children, their spouses, grandchildren, all of her siblings and some of their children and grandchildren. My mom always loved a full house and lots of action. But my dad was feeling so overwhelmed by all the commotion. Everybody wanted a chance to say goodbye to Nancy.

Sunday, when I arrived, she could still operate her phone and converse and help us lift her into the wheelchair to get to the toilet. And she was still drinking and eating, though very little. Monday she ate some potato soup, brushed her teeth and asked for a sponge bath and was still talking some. But by Monday afternoon, she could no longer operate her phone which is a big deal, as she always had her phone by her side and was so tuned into it. She couldn’t help us lift her, and she was drooling nonstop. She was unable to drink or eat anymore. She drooled constantly up until she died, so keeping her chin and neck dry was a constant part of her care. I asked hospice for some oral swabsticks to keep her mouth moist and clean, but they didn’t have any. So I used a washcloth (they finally brought her some late Tuesday).

Makyziah, my oldest daughter, arrived and was a support to me while I supported mom. Support needs support, you know? Aunt Sara was magnificent. Can’t imagine not having her there to hold this space together. And dad was great too. Really, everyone was just so loving and attentive and caring, I cannot fully express my awe and gratitude for how we walked her home collectively.

I took twenty-minute outside breaks each day I was there, and would admire the Magnolia X soulangeana, her Oriental Magnolia, who was in full bloom. Mom always told me about the tree- “Oh, its blooms are so pretty this year- I hope the frost doesn’t come and kill them!” or, “The Magnolia buds froze before they ever opened this year.” But this year, it was blooming outrageously! And it got to bloom fully before another cold snap came, two weeks after her death. I took a photo and showed mom but I don’t know if she really could take it in at that point. You don’t really know what a dying person is absorbing, so best to just assume they hear and understand everything, and treat them with the utmost respect.

Tending to a dying person is exhausting. It reminded me so much of labor. In fact, sometimes throughout mom’s dying process, I couldn’t remember what was what. Birth and Death hold such similar vibrations. The outcome is obvious but the process often exhausting, and I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why can’t we just forward to the end result? Why all this extreme in-between time?” But the soul will take its time. One scene is entering earth, the other is leaving.

Mom slept from Monday evening to Tuesday evening. She was uncomfortable and groaned and moaned a lot and we tried our best to help her stay as comfortable as possible with medicine and rearranging her in her bed, and massaging her, and reading her Bible to her, and praying and putting her hands on her dogs, and other comforts, but she did not awaken. A 24-hour nap. We didn’t think she was going to ever awaken.

Then dad started singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and his voice kept increasing and increasing and mom shot up and said, “Ralph, lower your voice!” Aunt Sara said he could have raised the dead with that singing and that is kind of like what he did! I never knew dad had a singing voice like that—It was beautiful!

A few minutes later she spoke again and asked, “Am I dying?”

I answered, “Yes, mom, you are dying.”

She said, “Oh I didn’t know I was dying! I didn’t think it would be so soon. Has the word gotten out?”

We told her, yes, everyone was here to say their goodbyes and she said “Well, I have 24 hours.”
Then fell back unconscious.
She lived for one more day.

I will never forget the look on my nephew’s face when he came into the room right after that, and how surprised he seemed to see my mom. Here was the rock of our family, completely helpless and with very little life left.

Wednesday morning, I had the opportunity to sing her favorite hymnals to her. (I made certain to sing in a low voice;-)) Then Dad got alone time with her. Tears were all over the place. The house felt solemn and grave.

Dad and I were sitting together with her and she said, “Mama? Mama?”

It felt like she was seeing her mother. Those were the last words she ever spoke.

I thought about how our mamas are the first ones there when we come into the world, and how they may very well be the first ones there for us when we leave it, too. I can’t even write this without tearing up and getting chills and knowing the beloved sacredness of motherhood that no-one will ever rightly be able to put into words.

For some reason, my mom smelled like flowers to me, the whole way through this dying process. Fresh. Mysterious. Pure.

Mom’s feet began to mottle. Her breathing slowed. Her color kept turning more deathly. Her two dogs still wanted to be as close to her as we would let them. My two brothers and I sat next to her, and then it happened. She left. Her last breath on this earth. And the dogs knew it immediately. They were spooked and didn’t want to come near her anymore. What is it they saw, you cannot help but wonder?

I fell upon her and wept and wept. The tenderness is still there inside me as I write. I brought in the bath tea that I had made earlier that day, from lavender and rose from my garden, and bathed her from head to toe. I marveled that it was not until her death that I ever saw mom naked. I had never seen her breasts. I never breastfed. Now she only had one breast. Her soft and supple body looked so much like my own. My daughters have seen me naked a thousand times. I felt so sad that it wasn’t until now that I saw my mom nude. Somehow, this seemed very unnatural.

Then I went outside and fell on my Earth Mother and wept. I gave my grief over to Earth. It was a warm, sunny, beautiful day. She held me strongly, compassionately.

Dad called hospice and they called the undertaker. Two large men in suits arrived, and watching them take her body away was priceless. They did it seamlessly and you know handling a dead body cannot be easy. Who knows how many times they have done this.

And then she was gone forever. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.

My parent’s zip code is 29848. For over twenty years, every time I wrote to them, which was often, when I would write the last two digits of their zip code, 48, a voice would warn me that would be my age when my mom died. And it came to pass.

Nancy Ann Ray Scurry, I will love you forever. March 16, 1947- March 2, 2022, born and died under a Pisces Sun. Died on a Pisces New Moon. She had a Capricorn Moon, as do I.

I made a shadowbox of some things that connect me to her,
a healing balm to tend my grief.


Mom, I promise you, as long as I am alive, You will live on through me.

Beech, Sourwood and Maple grew up together, and are as close as can be, lives forever intertwined. Together, they make this portal that beckons. 

When I first came to Herb Mountain Farm in 2005, the bank holding these trees was covered in moss. But a few years later, Hart cleared an area in the woods so there could be an outdoor classroom for the Forest Floor Camps we used to host,
and, suddenly,
humans were walking through this portal everyday.

And all the moss vanished. 

Some of it was due to the unusually dry weather that has occurred here most of the 2000’s. Some of its disappearance was due to children picking it off and taking it elsewhere to make fairy forts. But mostly it was our daily steps, our footprints, that turned the bank to bare earth. I mean, who wouldn’t want to walk through a portal like this?

Yet every time I walk by or thru it, a knowing arises in me of how we must intentionally strive to balance our manipulation of the landscape with leaving other places completely alone. 

And that’s hard for us humans to do, with our big curiosities and love of creating things. Especially if our attitude is that we have dominion over this earth.  We’ve proven we can dominate, but can we prove that we can reciprocate, respect, back off, and solely appreciate what naturally is there? That is my prayer and my mission in life, to help shift our collective mindset from Human Supremacy to Supporting Biodiversity. 

It really consumes me, this mission, like, probably not an hour of the day goes by that I’m not thinking of how to be of use in this way. It’s even in my dreamtime. Do any of you feel driven in this way? It can be really painful, because you see what is, knowing what could be, and it’s not something one person can change. It’s all of us, together, seeing the value in the Great Web of Life, which, yes, includes ants and hornets and snakes and swamps and dirt and spiders.

We have only one earth.

As I watched this beautiful egret skillfully feed in the Everglades Sawgrass, I was struck by this thought- Does this bird give a damn what anybody thinks or says its experience should be? No! It is both intuitive and constantly adapting to its own experience. We have so much to learn from the animals this way.

Your own personal experience is the most credible. No one but you can get inside your skin or mind. Trust yourself when you feel something, when you hear and know. If it’s different than what the people around you are telling you what you need to believe or do,
and get clear of your own inner knowing.
Stick with the voice of your heart.

This ain’t easy to do sometimes when you feel or think differently than the majority of people around you. I have been up against it my whole life, even with plant learning.

I had people tell me certain plants were a bane- to be exterminated at all costs- like bamboo, poison ivy, nettle, thistle, dandelion. That there was no good in these aggressive plants, just get rid of them! My first plant job was digging out dandelion from this woman’s yard. I dug out so many that when I slept that night, the dandelions were filling my Dreamtime with all parts of themselves and asking me who I was and did I know who they were?

Just a side note to mention that the woman hired me to remove dandelions, but I was so ignorant, I thought daffodils were dandelions and began pulling out her bulbs! She came running out to me and kindly showed me the difference. So you see, anybody can become a plant person;-)

Anyway, I knew what I had been told about dandelions, and had never thought beyond that. But I became curious who they were as I realized, no, I didn’t really know them at all! Could these ‘aggressive, noxious’ weeds actually have a purpose? My own experiences with them began and although I would not want these plants to take over my garden or yard, they earned my respect, and I value their life.

I once made a bamboo frame with art in the center that said, ‘All things have purpose, even bamboo,’ and gave it to my grandmother who hated bamboo because it was the right plant in the wrong place, that kept spreading in her yard. I shared with her The Book of Bamboo, by David Farrelly, and she was amazed how useful this plant was! She told me her opinion of certain plants forever shifted after that.

You have a story to tell that is unique and valuable to the web of life. How much of that story is currently your regurgitation of what you have been taught? How much of what you believe has actually been your own personal experience?

You know, you gotta have courage to step outside the box and question what you have been raised to believe. Question all of it. Otherwise, it’s just rote.

People have and will kill others and destroy nature over disagreeing with their belief system. Especially in regards to religion. It is literally crazy. To think that I could ever know what everybody should believe or do is completely idiotic. It really makes no sense to me. I have very, very, strong beliefs, but at the basis of all my beliefs is a respect for all of life and the freedom of choice.

Observing wild animals and plants really brings home the freedom of living out your own path based upon your feelings and needs. I really don’t witness any judgment coming from the flora and fauna, and it is such a relief.

I am honing skills at aligning my time and energy with what I want to see flourish. It’s such a continual practice! Whether it be plants, friendships, family bonds, community service, or something else, it is evident that what I give my attention to grows. There is much to be learned from internet scrolling, books, online courses and the like, but when I am working-playing with the land, I am unfurled directly from earth mother herself. My own personal experience becomes the knowledge :: I’m not getting it from someone/somewhere else. I am grown by the soil, just like a plant. Or a fern, like this Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris,) unfurling with the spring rains.

I’ve considered myself a writer since elementary school, when I kept journals of the day, the weather, my family dynamics, and to do lists. I had a penpal in second grade and each time her letter arrived, I would go though it with a red pen and make edits. In college, I studied journalism with dreams of becoming a photojournalist. Margaret Bourke White was my heroine.

But I got sidetracked with husbands, raising children, earning income through various part-time jobs, stewarding land, managing property and a whole lot of other stuff you don’t even want to hear about, and have not written the way my soul longs for—that inner voice that won’t shut up even though you continue to not live it out fully. Like a painter not making the space to paint- it eats at your soul, ya know what I’m talking about? I can’t take it anymore, but to change my habits to make writing a priority is like moving a ton of bricks. Im honing it, I’m working it, it’s happening! It is never too late as long as you are alive. If I had my druthers, I’d hole away with the garden and a typewriter and emerge a few years from now with a mile-long manuscript.  But I do like the husband, children, friends, land steward thing, too.

Hello, it’s April 5, 2022, and I am beginning my Earth Devotions, regular writings on how we love and care for our one precious mama planet. Which is really about how we live. From day to day, year to year, our lives unfolding. Sometimes these will be short, and other times they will lead to a longer essay of sorts. No matter the length, they are intended to guide, inspire, humor and/or fuel your love and stewardship of Earth and all of her creatures, which includes you.

This photo was taken in a rural area of Veracruz, Mexico, of my dear friend Kahwren’s garden, in January. Notice the native fern tree growing among the vegetables? What a treasure to behold in a garden! Can you feel the light of the morning bathing the plants? This land has been overgrazed and clear cut but is now being allowed to revert back to forest, and, in some areas like this one, food is being grown. Walking among the garden, getting wet by the morning dew, nibbling on the greens, listening to the birds greeting the day- Well… it doesn’t get much better than this, I think. I am devoted to caring for earth, and stewarding her well, and spreading this devotional zest for adoring and respecting our planet’s generosity. Don’t you just love her so, too?

Interview with Mary Plantwalker on stewarding Herb Mountain Farm,

by Kelly Moody of Groundshots Podcast

Mary Plantwalker has been enjoying penning some articles for Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine’s Blog! Check them out!

How to Grow an Herbal Tea Garden

Herbal Tea Ceremonies 

Compost Magic for the Medicinal Herb Garden

Essential Gardening Tools for the Home Gardener

Medicinal Herb Gardening for Beginners

The Folklore and Medicine of Witch Hazel 

Witch Hazel Wonders- Cultivation and Uses


In 2014, Luke Cannon, aka Luke Learning Deer, helped us compile a species list of the flora we have met on the property. Over the past few years, Marc Williams has been a valued investor in not only updating this list, but bringing plants to help broaden it! (And helping plant and tend them, too!)

It begins with a description of our farm, and then a list, starting with trees and shrubs, of all perennials here, as well as some animal life! Enjoy! This list is continually being updated, a true living document!

Species Inventory of Herb Mountain Farm 

Weaverville, North Carolina  

begun 2014, last updated May 2022

Compiled by Luke Cannon, Marc Williams and Mary Plantwalker

This list begins a general survey of the biota of Herb Mountain Farm Botanical Sanctuary. The property, starting at roughly 2,600ft and rising to about 3,800ft, primarily consists of West facing slopes but also includes some South, Northeast and North facing slopes. Herb Mountain peak rises to about 4,200ft just above, which is one of the major ridges of the Craggy Mountain range, just to the East. 

The property of 138 acres primarily consists of young Mixed Pine Oak forest but also includes cultivated gardens and residential, retreat and educational infrastructures along the flatter Western edge. Areas of older growth and Rich Cove forest offer higher diversity within the woodland, especially within coves along the drainages. Onion Rock, a Rocky Outcrop/Escarpment, exists along the upper ridge at about 3,600ft which deserves further investigation for uncommon species.  There are two smaller westwardly draining streams, Banjo Branch and Dry Branch, that converge on the property in the wooded area of the Nature Trail, just below the old home site(stone chimney) before running down to Maney Branch.  The Nature Trail makes a mile-long loop around the lower end of the property.

With hope this list will continue to grow and serve to aid those who will steward and enjoy this land for generations to come.

Trees, shrubs and plants are listed in alphabetical order under their scientific names by family, then genus, species and common name. Rare plants for the Appalachians will be indicated as “Rare”; plants of non-native or cultivated status will have an * following their names and “Invasive” if they are particularly so.  Plants that were only keyed to genus will be labeled with “sp.” following the generic name. Species of concern refers to its increase in dying or showing excess disease or insect damage. Only perennial or self-seeding annuals are listed. Mushrooms and fungi will be listed similarly. Noted Birds are listed by their common names. More Ferns, Grasses, Rushes, Sedges, Minerals, Invertebrates and Fauna, as well as Flora, are hoped to be added in time. 



Sambucus canadensis, Common Elderberry

Viburnum acerifolium, Maple-leaved Viburnum

Viburnum dentata, Arrowwood

Viburnum nudum, Possumhaw

Viburnum prunifolium, Black Haw

Viburnum rhytidophyllum, Leatherleaf Viburnum

Viburnum trilobum, High Bush Cranberry or Crampbark

Viburnum X pragense, Prague Viburnum


Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumac 

Rhus typhina, Staghorn Sumac


Asimina triloba, Common Paw-Paw


Ilex crenata, Japanese Holly*

Ilex decidua, Winter Holly

Ilex meservaea, Blue Maid Hollies*

Ilex opaca, American Holly


Berberis thunbergii, Barberry Bagatelle*

Nandina domestica, Heavenly Bamboo*


Alnus sp., Alder

Betula lenta, Sweet Birch

Betula nigra, River Birch

Carpinus caroliniana, Musclewood

Corylus americana or cornuta, Mt. Hazelnut

Ostrya virginiana, Hop Hornbeam


Buxus semervirens, Boxwood*

Sarcococca hookeriana, Pumila Sweetbox*


Calycanthus floridus, Sweetshrub or Sweetbubbas or Carolina Allspice


Celtis sp. Hackberry


Lonicera caerulea, Honeyberry or Haskap*


Euonymus atropurpureus, Burning Bush or American Wahoo


Clethra alniflora, Pepperbush


Cornus alternifolia, Alternate-leaf Dogwood

Cornus amomum, Silky Dogwood

Cornus canadensis, BunchBerry

Cornus florida, Flowering Dogwood (species of concern)

Cornus kousa*

Cornus mas, Cornelian Cherry

Cornus sericea, Red-osier Dogwood, Red Gnome variety 


Chamaecyparis pisifera, Vintage Gold Cypress*

Juniperus chinensis, Angelica Blue Juniper*

Juniperus conferta, Gold Coast*

Juniperus horizontales, Gold strike*

Juniperus virginiana, Eastern Red Cedar

Thuja spp., ArborVitae*


Diospyros virginiana, Persimmon

Diospyros kaki., Asian Persimmon* 


Kalmia latifolia, Mountain Laurel

Oxydendron arboreum, Sourwood

Rhododendron austrinum, Southern Flame Azaela 

Rhododendron calendulaceum, Flame azalea

Rhododendron maximum, Rosebay Rhododendron or Great Laurel

Rhododendron periclymenoides, Pinxter Azaela

Rhododendron sp., Swamp Azaela

Rhododendron spp., Rhododendron 

Vaccinium altomontanum, Blue Ridge Blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum, Highbush Blueberry

Vaccinium pallidum or stamineum Blueberries*


Albizia julibrissin, Mimosa*

Caragana arborescens, Siberian Pea Shrub*

Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud

Gymnocladus dioicus, Kentucky Coffee Tree

Robinia pseudoacacia, Black Locust (species of concern)


Castanea mollisima, Chinese Chestnut*

Fagus grandifolia, American Beech

Quercus alba, White Oak (species of concern)

Quercus falcata, Southern Red Oak

Quercus illicifolia, Bear/Scrub Oak

Quercus macrocarpa, Bur Oak

Quercus montana, Chestnut Oak

Quercus rubra, Northern Red Oak

Quercus stellata, Post Oak

Quercus velutina, Black Oak


Ginko biloba, Gingko*


Ribes rotundifolium, Appalachian Gooseberry


Fothergilla sp., Witch Alder

Hamamelis virginiana, Witch Hazel


Deutzia sp. “Dwarf”

Hydrangea arborescens, Wild Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia, Oak Leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea spp., Ornamental varieties

Philadelphus inodorus, Scentless Mock Orange


Illicium floridanum, Star Anise Tree*


Itea virginica, Virginia Sweetspire 


Carya cordiformis Bitternut Hickory

Carya glabra, Pignut Hickory

Carya ovalis, Red Hickory

Carya tomentosa, Mockernut Hickory

Carya illinoinensis, Pecan

Juglans nigra, Black Walnut


Clerodendrum sp., Glorybower*

Vitex spp.


Lindera benzoin, Spicebush

Sassafras albidum, Sassafras


Lagerstromeia indica, Crepe Myrtle Siren Red Whit VII*


Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip Tree

Magnolia acuminata, Cucumber Magnolia

Magnolia fraseri, Fraser or Mountain Magnolia or Wahoo

Magnolia grandiflora, Southern Magnolia*

Magnolia macrophylla, Big Leaf Magnolia

Magnolia liliifolia, Japanese Magnolia*

Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia*

Magnolia virginiana, Sweet Bay



Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon*

Maclura pomifera, Osage Orange

Tilia heterophylla, Appalachian Basswood or Linden

Tilia sp., European cultivar*


Ficus carna, Dessert King*

Morus alba, White Mulberry* (species of concern)

Morus rubra, Red Mulberry


Nyssa sylvatica, Black Gum or Tupelo


Abeliophylum distichum, White Forsythia*

Chionanthus virginicus, Fringe Tree or Grandaddy Graybeard

Forsythia sp., Forsythia*

Fraxinus americana, White Ash 

Fraxinus spp., Ash (species of concern)

Ligustrum sinense, Privet* Invasive

Syringa sp., Lilac*


Picea glauca, Dwarf Alberta Spruce*

Pinus strobus, Eastern White Pine

Pinus virginiana, Scrub Pine

Pinus taeda, Loblolly Pine

Tsuga canadensis, Eastern Hemlock (species of concern)

Tsuga canadensis, Weeping Hemlock ‘Pendulum”

Tsuga caroliniana, Carolina Hemlock (this species is at risk of becoming threatened and endangered, worldwide)


Platanus occidentalis, American Sycamore


Frangula alnus, “Asplenifolia”*

Ziziphus mauritiana, Jujube Date*


Amelanchier arborea, Tree Serviceberry or Juneberry

Aronia sp., Chokeberry

Chamaenomeles sp. Flowering Quince*

Crataegus spp., Hawthorn

Kerria japonica, Yellow Rose of Texas*

Malus sp., Apple*

Physocarpus opulifolius, Ninebark

Prunus armeniaca, Apricot* 

Prunus avium, Bird Cherry*

Prunus pensylvanica, Fire Cherry

Prunus serotina, Black Cherry (species of concern)

Prunus sp., Cherry*

Prunus sp., Native Plum

Prunus tomentosa, Nanking Cherry*

Pyrus communis, Pear*

Rosa multiflora, Multiflora Rose* Invasive

Rosa rugosa, Rugosa Rose*

Rosa virginiana, Virginia Rose

Rosa spp., Rose Ornamentals*

Rubus occidentalis, Black Cap Raspberry 

Rubus phoenicolasius, Wineberry*

Rubus sp., Blackberry*

Rubus sp., Raspberry*

Sorbus americana, Rowan or Mountain Ash

Spirea japonica* Very Invasive 

Spirea prunifolia, Old-Fashioned Bridle Wreath Spirea*


Cephalanthus occidentalis, Buttonbush

Gardenia jasmanoides, Gardenia*


Ptelea trifoliata Wafer Ash or Hoptree

Poncirus trifoliata, Trifoliate Orange* “Flying Dragon”


Salix babylonica, Weeping Willow

Salix caprea, Dwarf Pussy Willow*

Salix discolor, Pussy Willow

Salix sp., Willow


Acer japonica, Japanese Maple Vitifolium

Acer negundo, Eastern Box Maple or Box Elder 

Acer pensylvanicum, Striped Maple

Acer rubrum, Red Maple

Acer saccharinum, Silver Maple

Acer saccharum, Sugar Maple

Aesculus sylvatica, Painted Buckeye

Koelreuteria paniculata, Goldenrain Tree*


Ailanthus altissima, Tree of Heaven* Invasive


Halesia tetraptera, Carolina Silverbell

Styrax americanus, American Snowbell


Taxus sp., Yew*


Cammelia sinensis, Tea* 

Stewartia sp., Stewartia (species of concern)DIED?


Daphne odora, Daphne*

Dirca palustris, Leatherwood


Ulmus rubra, Slippery Elm



Acorus calamus, Sweet Flag or Calamus


Camassia scilloides, Eastern Camas or Quamash Lily

Hosta spp., Hosta*

Yucca filamentosa, Yucca*


Allium spp., Ornamentals*

Allium cernuum, Nodding Onion

Allium tricoccum, Ramps

Allium vineale, Field Garlic or Wild Onion*

Narcissus pseudonarcissus, Daffodil


Amorphophallus konjac, Voodoo Lily*

Arisaema dracontium, Green Dragon DIED?

Arisaema triphyllum, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Indian Turnip 


Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca

Maianthemum racemosum, Solomon’s Plume

Polygonatum biflorum or pubescens, Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum kingianum, Huang Jing* 

Asphodelaceae  (Xanthorrhoeaceae)

Asphodelus albus, Asphodel*

Hemerocallis fulva, Day Lily*


Uvularia perfoliata, Perfoliate Bellwort 

Uvularia sessilifolia, Sessile Bellwort


Commelina communis, Asiatic Dayflower*

Tradescantia ohiensis, Spiderwort


Carex flaca, Blue Zinger Sedge

Carex pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Sedge

Carex plantaginea, Plantain Leaved Sedge 

Carex spp., Sedges


Dioscorea polystachya, Cinnamonvine, Air Potato* Invas  

Dioscorea villosa, Wild Yam


Crocosmia sp., Lucifer’s Tongue*

Iris cristata, Dwarf Crested Iris 

Iris fulva, Copper Iris

Iris pallida, Orris Root

Iris pseudoacorus, Yellow Flag*

Iris spp., multiple varieties all over property*


Juncus effusus, Soft Rush (by lower pond) 

Juncus tenuis, Path Rush 


Muscari atlanticum, Grape Hyacinth*

Ornithogalum umbellatum, Star of Bethlehem*


Erythronium sp., Trout Lily

Lilium michauxii, Carolina Lily

Lilium superbum, Turk’s Cap Lily

Liriope muscari, Liriope*

Medeola virginiana, Wild or Indian Cucumber

Prosartes lanuginosa, Yellow Mandarin or Fairy Bells

Scilla siberica, Siberian Squill*


Chamelirium luteum, False Unicorn Root

Trillium cuneatum, Sweet Betsy or Purple Toadshade

Trillium catesbaei, Nodding Pink Flowering Trillium

Trillium erectum, Stinking Willie

Trillium luteum, Yellow Trillium

Trillium rugelii, Southern or Tall Nodding Trillium    

Veratrum viride, White Hellebore or Cornhusk-lily 


Aletris farinosa, Unicorn Root


Aplectrum hyemale, Adam and Eve or Puttyroot   

Cypripedium acaule, Pink Lady’s Slippers

Galearis spectabilis, Showy Orchid

Goodyera pubescens, Rattlesnake Orchid 

Spiranthes cernua, Nodding Ladies’ Tresses   

Tipularia discolor, Cranefly Orchid


Anthoxanthum odorata, Eastern Vernal Sweetgrass

Arundinaria gigantea, Rivercane

Arundo donax, Peppermint Stick or Striped Giant Reed*

Dichanthelium clandestinum, Deer-Tongue Grass

Dichanthelium sp., Witch Grass

Heirochloe odorata, Ceremonial Sweetgrass*

Leymus arenerius, Blue Lyme Grass*

Microstegium vimineum,  Japanese Stilt Grass*

Miscanthus sinensis,  Chinese Silver Grass*  Invasive

Panicum virgatum, Panicgrass or Switchgrass

Phalaris arundinacea, Reed Canary Grass*

Poa annua, Bluegrass

Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem

Sorghum halapense, Johnson Grass* Invasive


Smilax glauca, Greenbrier or Sarsparilla

Smilax herbacea, Smooth Carrion Flower

Smilax rotundifolia, Common Greenbriar or Catbriar  


Typha angustifolia or latifolia, Cattail* (Invasive)



Acanthus mollis Bear’s Breeches*

Ruellia caroliniensis, Carolina Wild Petunia


Amaranthus spinosa, Spiny Amaranth* 

Amaranthus spp.

Chenopodium album, Lamb’s Quarter or Goose-foot* 


Toxicodendron radicans, Eastern Poison Ivy


Angelica archangelica, Angelica*

Angelica gigas, Angelica*

Angelica triquinata, Filmy Angelica

Cryptotaenia canadensis, Honewort

Daucus carota, Queen Anne’s Lace*

Eryngium yuccifolium, Rattlesnake Master

Ligusticum canadense, Appalachian Osha or Angelico

Myrrhis odorata, European Sweet Cicely*

Osmorhiza claytonii, Sweet Cicely

Osmorhiza longistylis, Long Style Sweet Cicely

Pastinaca sativa, Wild Parsnip*

Sanicula canadensis, Short-styled Snakeroot 

Sanicula gregaria, Clustered Snakeroot

Zizia aurea, Common Golden Alexander 


Amsonia tabernaemontana, Blue Star

Apocynum cannibinum, Dogbane

Asclepias exaltata, Poke Leaved Milkweed*

Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias quadrifolia, Four-Leaved Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed

Ascelpias viridiflora, Green Milkweed DIED?

Asclepias verticillata, Whorled Milkweed DIED?

Gomphocarpus physocarpus, Balloon Milkweed*

Matelea carolinensis, Carolina Spinypod

Vinca minor, Vinca or Periwinkle 


Aralia racemosa, Spikenard

Aralia spinosa, Devil’s Walking Stick

Hedera helix, English Ivy*

Eleuthrococcus sp., Siberian Ginseng*

Panax quinquefolius, American Ginseng 

Tetrapanax papyrifer, Rice Paper Plant*  


Isotrema macrophyllum, Dutchman’s Pipevine

Asarum canadense,  Wild Ginger

Asarum splendens. Asian Wild Ginger*


Achillea borealis, Native Yarrow 

Achillea millifolium, Yarrow

Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Common Ragweed *(Invasive)

Ambrosia trifida, Great Ragweed

Anacyclus pyrethrum, Pelliatory*

Antennaria spp., Rosy Pussy-Toes

Arctium minus, Common Burdock*

Arnoglossum atriplicifolium, Pale Indian Plantain

Artemisia absinthium, Wormwood*

Artemisia annua, Sweet Annie*

Artemisia vulgaris, Mugwort*

Bidens frondosa, Beggar’s Ticks 

Bigelowia nuttallii, Nutalls Rayless Goldenrod

Boltonia asteroides, Wavy Aster

Centaurea cyanus, Bachelor’s Button*

Chrysanthemum morifolium, Gong-ju-hua and Bo-ju-hua*

Chrysogonum virginianum, Green and Gold

Chrysopsis mariana, Golden Aster

Cichorium intybus, Chicory

Cirsium discolor, Field thistle*

Cirsium sp., Thistle

Conoclinum coelestinum, Blue Mist or Hardy Ageratum

Coreopsis latifolia

Coreopsis major, Whorled Coreopsis

Coreopsis sp., Ornamentals*

Dahlia pinnata, Dahlia*

Echinacea angustifolia, Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower

Echinacea laevigata, Native Appalachian Echinacea

Echinacea paradoxa, Ozark Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea, Eastern Purple Coneflower

Echinacea tennesseensis, Tennesse Purple Coneflower

Elephantopus tomentosa/carolinianus, Elephant’s Foot

Erechtites heiraciifolius, Pilewort

Erigeron annus, Annual Fleabane

Erigeron philadelphicus, Daisy Fleabane

Erigeron pulchellus, Robin’s Plantain

Eupatorium perfoliatum, Boneset

Eupatorium serotinum, Thoroughwort or Late Boneset

Eurybia divaricata, White Heart-leaved or Wood Aster

Eurybia macrophyllum, Big Leaf Aster 

Eutrochium maculatum, Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Eutrochium steelei, Appalchian Joe-Pye Weed

Galinsoga ciliata,  Galinsoga or Quickweed

Grindelia robusta, Gumweed* 

Helianthus angustifolius, Swamp Sunflower

Asteraceae (Continued)

Helianthus maximilianii, Maximillian Sunflower

Helianthus mollis, Ashy Sunflower

Helianthus tuberosus, Jerusalem Artichoke

Heliopsis helianthoides, Oxeye Sunflower

Hieracium venosum, Rattlesnake weed

Inula helenium, Elecampane*

Ionactis linariifolius, Stiff-leaved Aster

Krigia montana, Mountain Dwarf Dandelion

Lactuca canadense, Wild Lettuce

Leucanthemum vulgare, Ox-Eyed Daisy*

Liatris aspera, Rough Blazing Star

Liatris pycnostachya, Prairie Blazing Star

Liatris spicata, Blazing Star or Gayfeather

Nablus latissimus, White Lettuce or Gall of the Earth

Packera anonyma, Small’s Ragwort

Packera aurea, Golden Ragwort

Parthenium integrifolium, Wild Quinine

Pityopsis graminifolia, Narrow-leaf Silk Grass

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, Rabbit Tobacco or Sweet Everlasting

Ratibida pinnata, Prairie or Gray-headed Coneflower

Rudbeckia hirta, Black Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia laciniata, Sochan or Tall Yellow Coneflower 

Rudbeckia fulgide, Orange Coneflower

Rudbeckia maxima, Giant/Great/Large Coneflower

Santolina chamaecyparissus, Lavender Cotton*

Senecio vulgaris, Common Groundsel

Silphium laciniatum, Compass Plant

Silphium perfoliatum, Cup Plant

Silphium trifoliatum, Whorled Rosinweed

Smallanthus uvedalia, Leafcup or Bear’s Foot 

Silybum marianum, Milk Thistle

Solidago arguta, Atlantic Goldenrod

Solidago bicolor, Silverrod 

Solidago curtisii Mountain Decumbent Goldenrod

Solidago canadensis, Canada Goldenrod

Solidago flexicaulis Zigzag Goldenrod

Solidago speciosa, Showy Goldenrod

Solidago sphacelata, Autumn Goldenrod

Sonchus oleraceus, Common Sow Thistle*  

Stokesia laevis, Stoke’s Aster*

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Common Blue Wood Aster

Symphyotrichum dumosum, Rice Button Aster

Symhpyotrichum ericoides, Heath Aster

Symhpyotrichum laeve, Smooth Aster

Symphyotrichum patens, Late Purple Aster

Symphyotrichum pilosum, White Heath Aster

Symphyotrichum puniceum, Swamp Aster

Symphyotrichum undulatum, Wavyleaf Aster

Tanacetum parthenium, Feverfew*

Tanacetum vulgare, Tansy* 

Taraxacum officinale, Dandelion*

Verbesina alternifolia, Wingstem

Verbesina virginica, White Crownbeard

Vernonia altissima, Ironweed

Xanthium spinosum/strumarium, Cockleburr

Youngia japonica, Asian Hawksbeard*


Impatiens capensis, Spotted Jewelweed 

Impatiens pallida, Pale or Yellow Jewelweed


Caulophyllum thalictroides, Blue Cohosh

Epimedium sp., Horny Goat Weed*

Jeffersonia diphylla, Twin Leaf

Podophyllum peltatum, Mayapple  


Campsis radicans, Trumpet Vine


Anchusa ochroleuca, Yellow Alkanet*

Anchusa officinalis, Anchusa Azure*

Borago officinalis, Borage*

Cynoglossum virginiana, Hound’s Tounge

Hydrophyllum sp., Waterleaf

Mertensia virginica, Virginia Bluebells

Myosotis sp., Forget-Me-Not*

Phacelia bipinnatifida, Fern-leaved Phacelia 

Pulmonaria officinalis, Lungwort*

Symphytum officinale, Comfrey* 


Armoracia rusticana, Horseradish*

Barbarea verna, Cress*

Brassica rapa, Field Mustard*

Capsella bursa-pastoris, Shephard’s Purse*

Cardamine laciniata, Cut-leaved Toothwort

Cardamine pensylvanica, Pennsylvania Watercress

Draba verna

Erysimum sp. Wallflower

Iberis sempervirens, Candytuft*

Lepidium campestre, Resourceful Person’s Pepper

Lunaria annua, Money Plant*

Nasturtium officinale, Watercress*

Orychophragmus violaceus, Chinese Violet Cress*


Pachysandra procumbens, Allegheny Spurge


Cylindropuntia imbricata, Tree Cholla*

Cylindropuntia x viridiflora, Rat Tail Cholla*

Echinocereus triglochidiatus, King Cup Cactus*

Opuntia humifusa, Eastern Prickly Pear

Opuntia spp., Prickly Pear


Campanula americana, Tall Bellflower

Campanula divaricata, Southern Harebell

Laurentia (or Isotoma) fluviatilis, Blue Star Creeper* 

Lobelia cardinalis, Cardinal Flower

Lobelia inflata, Indian Tobacco

Lobelia puberula Downy Lobelia

Lobelia siphilitica, Great Blue Lobelia

Lobelia spp., Lobelia

Triodanis perfoliata, Venus Looking Glass


Lonicera japonica, Japanese Honeysuckle* Invasive

Lonicera sempervirens, Southeastern Native Honeysuckle or Coral Honeysuckle

Diervilla sessifolia, Bush Honeysuckle

Dipsacus fullonum, Teasle*

Patrinia scabiosifolia, Golden Valerian*

Valeriana jamansii, Indian Valerian*

Valeriana officinalis, Valerian*

Weigelia sp.*


Cerastium fontanum ssp. vulgare, Mouse-eared chickweed

Dianthus armeria, Deptford Pink*

Dianthus deltoides, Maiden Pink*

Dianthus spp., Sweet William and Super Trouper etc…*

Saponaria officinalis, Bouncing Bet or Soapwort

Silene caroliniana, Wild Pink, Catchfly

Silene ovata, Blue Ridge Catchfly

Silene stellata, Starry Campion, Widowsfrill

Silene virginica, Fire Pink

Silene vulgaris, Maiden’s Tears*

Stellaria media, Common Chickweed

Stellaria pubera, Great Chickweed

Valerianella locusta, Corn Salad or Mache


Celastrus orbiculatus, Oriental Bittersweet* Invasive

Euonymus fortunei, Wintercreeper* Invasive


Lechea minor, Thymeleaf Pinweed 


Cleome hassleriana, Spider flower or Pink Queen* 


Calystegia spp., Bindweed

Convolvulus arvensis, Morning Glory*

Cuscuta sp., Dodder

Ipomoea coccinea, Small Red Morning Glory*

Ipomoea hederacea Ivy Leaf Morning Glory* 

Ipomoea purpurea, Common Morning Glory*


Hylotelephium telephioides, Allegheny Stonecrop. Locally Rare

Sedum telephioides, Live Forever

Sedum ternatum, Wild Stonecrop 


Gynostemma pentaphyllum, Jiaogulan* (INVASIVE!)


Galax urceolata, Galax

Shortia galacifolia, Oconee Bells


Ephedra sp., Mahuang or Mormon Tea*


Equisetum hyemale affinis, Scouring Rush


Calluna vulgaris, Heather*

Chimaphila maculata, Striped Pipsissewa

Gaultheria procumbens, Wintergreen

Leucothoe fontanesiana, Dog Hobble

Monotropa hypopitys, Pine Sap

Monotropa uniflora, Ghost Pipe or Indian Pipe

Pieris japonica, Japanese Andromeda*


Acalypha sp., Three-seeded Mercury

Chamaesyce maculata, Spotted Spurge

Euphorbia corollata, Flowering Spurge

Euphorbia cyparissias, Graveyard Plant or Cypress Spurge

Euphorbia lathyris, Mole Plant or Gopher Spurge

Euphorbia maculata, Prostrate Spurge

Ricinus communis, Castor Bean*  


Amorpha fruitcosa, Desert False Indigo

Amphicarpa bracteata, Hog Peanut

Apios americana, Groundnut

Astragalus canadensis, Canadian Milkvetch

Astragalus propinquus, Astragalus*

Baptisia australis, Wild Indigo

Baptisia leucantha, White False Indigo

Desmanthus illinoensis, Prairiehuasca*

Desmodium glutinosum, Pointed Leaf Tick Treefoil

Desmodium nudiflorum, Naked Flower Tick Trefoil

Genista tinctoria, Dyer’s Broom*

Lathyrus latifolia, Sweet Pea*

Lupinus spp., Lupines*

Securigera varia, Crown Vetch*

Senna hebecarpa, Northern Wild Senna 

Tephrosia virginiana, Devil’s Shoestrings

Thermopsis villosa, Golden Banner

Fabaceae (Continued)

Trifolium campestre, Low Hop Clover*

Trifolium pratense, Red Clover*

Trifolium repens, White Clover*

Vicia sp., Vetch

Wisteria frutescens, Native Wisteria


Gentian sp., True Blue Gentian

Gentiana andrewsii, Andrew’s or Bottle Gentian

Gentiana lutea, Yellow Gentian*

Gentiana tibetica, Tibetan Gentian*

Obolaria virginica, Woodland Pennywort or Coy Gentian

Sabatia angularis, Rose Gentian or Rose Pink  


Geranium maculatum, Wild Geranium

Geranium molle, Dove’s Foot Geranium


Hypericum gentianoides, Orangegrass

Hypericum perforatum, St. John’s Wort*

Hypericum prolificum, Shrubby St. John’s Wort

Hypericum punctatum, Spotted Saint John’s Wort 

Hypercium sp. St. Andrew’s Cross


Agastache foeniculum, Anise Hyssop*

Blephilia ciliata or hirsuta, Downy wood mint

Collinsonia canadensis, Richweed,Horsebalm or Stoneroot 

Glechoma hederacea, Ground Ivy, Alehoof or Gill Over the Ground* 

Lamiastrum galeobdoblon, Herman’s Pride Archangel* 

Lamium aplexicaule, Henbit*

Lamium purpureum, Purple Dead Nettle*

Lavandula spp., Lavender* (Munstead, Elegance Purple, Czech

Leonurus cardiaca, Motherwort*

Leonurus japonicus, Chinese Motherwort*

Leonurua sibiricus, Siberian Motherwort* Invasive 

Lycopus europaeus, Europe Bugleweed or Gypsywort*

Lycopus virginicus, Bugleweed

Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm

Mentha longifolia, Habek Biblical Mint*

Mentha piperita, Peppermint

Mentha spp., Mints* Invasive

Monarda didyma, Bee Balm or Oswego Tea*

Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot

Monarda punctatum, Spotted Bee Balm

Nepeta cataria, Catnip*

Ocimum sanctum, Holy Basil*

Origanum vulgare, Oregano*

Perilla frutescens, Shiso*

Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage*

Physostegia virginiana, Obedient Plant  

Prunella vulgaris, Heal-All or Self Heal*

Pycnanthemum montanum, Thinleaf Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum muticum, Clustered Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum sp., Mountain Mint

Rosmarinus spp., Rosemary*

Salvia lyrata or urticifolia, Lyre Leaf Sage

Salvia officinalis, Garden Sage*

Salvia miltiorrhiza, Red Sage/Denshen*

Salvia sclarea, Clary Sage*

Salvia spp., Ornamental Sages*

Scutellaria baicalensis, Chinese Skullcap*

Scutellaria elliptica, Hairy Skullcap

Scutellaria integrifolia, Helmet or Rough Skullcap

Scutellaria lateriflora, Mad Dog Skullcap

Scutellaria parvula var. leonardii, Shale Barren Skullcap

Thymus spp., Thyme varieties*    


Spigelia marilandica, Indian Pink DIED


Althea officinalis, Marshmallow

Hibiscus coccineus, Swamp Hibiscus

Hibiscus moscheutos, Rose Mallow

Hibiscus sabdariffa, Roselle*

Hibiscus spp., Ornamental and Native varieties

Hibiscus trionum, Flower-of-an-Hour*

Malva neglecta, Common Mallow or Cheese Mallow*

Sida sp., Sida


Claytonia virginica, Spring Beauty

Phemeranthus sp. (probably teretifolius).  Appalachian Rock Pink or Flame Flower.  This sp. though not rare, is restricted to rocky outcrops here. One at Onion Rock.   


Comptonia peregrina, Sweet Fern


Circaea quadrisulcata or lutetiana, Enchanter’s Nightshade 

Epilobium sp. Willow Herb

Gaura biennis, Beeblossom

Ludwigia alternifolia, Seedbox

Oenothera biennis, Evening Primrose

Onethera fremontii, Shimmer*

Oenothera fruticosa, Sundrops

Oenothera speciosa, Pink Ladies


Agalinus tenuifolia, Common Gerardia

Aureolaria flava, False-foxglove or Oak-leech

Aureolaria virginia, Downy False Foxglove

Conopholis americana, Bear Corn 

Epifagus virginiana, Beechdrops

Orobanche minor, Common Broomrape 

Pedicularis canadensis, Lousewort 


Oxalis corniculata, Creeping Wood Sorrel

Oxalis montana, Mountain Wood Sorrel

Oxalis stricta, Common Yellow wood Sorrel


Paeonia sp., Peony*


Dicentra canadensis, Squirrel Corn

Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman’s Breeches

Dicentra spectabilis, White and Pink Bleeding Hearts

Eschscholzia californica, California Poppy*

Glaucium flavum, Yellow Horned Poppy

Macleaya cordata, Plume Poppy*

Papaver rhoeas, Common Poppy*

Papaver somniferum, Opium Poppy*

Papaver orientale, Oriental Poppy*

Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot

Stylophorum diphyllum, Wood Poppy or Celandine 


Passiflora incarnata, Passionflower

Passiflora lutea, Yellow Passionflower


Mimulus ringens, Monkey Flower

Phryma leptostachya, Lopseed  


Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed


Chelone lyonii, Turtlehead

Chelone spp., Turtlehead

Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove*

Penstemon spp., Beardtongue

Penstemon calycosus, Longsepal Beardtongue

Penstemon digitalis, Foxglove Penstemon 

Penstemon hirsutus, Hairy Beardtongue 

Penstemon smallii, Small’s Penstemon

Plantago lanceolata, Lance Leaf Plantain

Plantago major, Wide Leaf Plantain

Plantago rugelii, Black Seed Purple Stem Wide Plantain

Veronica americana, American Brookline

Veronica beccabunga, Water Forget-Me-Not*

Veronica peduncularis, Georgia Blue*

Veronica persica, Birds Eye Speedwell*

Veronica serpyllifolia, Thyme-leaved Veronica*

Veronicatrum virginicum, Culver’s Root


Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Plumbago*


Phlox carolina, Carolina Phlox

Phlox spp., Phlox

Phlox stolonifera, Creeping Phlox

Phlox subulata, Emerald Blue Phlox*

Polemonium reptans, Jacob’s Ladder


Brunnichia ?

Eriogonum allenii, Yellow Buckwheat

Fallopia multiflora, Heshouwu*

Fallopia scandens, Climbing Wild Buckwheat

Polygonum or Persicaria spp., Knotweed, Smartweed, Polygonum tenue, Pleatleaf Knotweed

Rumex acetosella, Sheep Sorrel*

Rumex crispus, Curly Dock*

Rumex obtusifolia, Obtuse Yellow Dock*

Rumex sanguineus, Bloody Dock*

Tovara virginiana, Virginia Jumpseed


Portulaca oleracea, Purslane*


Anagallis arvensis, Scarlet Pimpernel*

Lysimachia clethroides, Gooseneck Loosestrife* 

Lysimachia japonica, Dwf Creeping Jenny “minutissima”*

Primula auricula, Yellow Mountain Cowslip*

Primula meadia, Shooting Star


Actaea pachypoda, Doll’s Eyes

Actaea podocarpa, Mountain Bugbane

Actaea racemosa, Black Cohosh

Anemone pulsatilla, Pasqueflower, Wind Flower, Easter Flower*

Anemone quinquefolia, Wood Anemone

Anemone virginiana, Thimbleweed

Aquilegia canadensis, Columbine

Clematis virginiana, Virgin’s Bower

Clematis spp., Ornamental

Delphinium exaltum, Tall Larkspur

Delphinium tricorne, Wild Larkspur

Helleborus orientalis, Lenten Rose*

Hepatica acutiloba, Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Hepatica nobilis, Liverwort, Liverleaf

Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal

Ranunculus abortivus, Small-flowered Crowfoot 

Ranunculus bulbosus, Bulb-bearing Buttercup*

Thalictrum dioicum, Meadow Rue

Trautvetterria carolinensis, Carolina Tassel Rue

Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Yellowroot


Agrimonia parviflora, Small Flowering Agrimony

Agrimonia rostellata, Beaked Agrimony 

Alchemilla vulgaris, Lady’s Mantle*

Aruncus dioicus, Goatsbeard

Duchesnea indica, Indian Strawberry*

Filipendula rubra, Meadowsweet or Queen of the Prairie

Fragaria sp., Strawberry*

Geum sp., Avens

Potentilla canadensis, Dwarf Cinquefoil

Potentilla simplex, Common Cinquefoil 

Sanguisorba minor, Salad Burnet*

Spiraea alba, White Spirea

Spiraea japonica, Japanese Spirea* Invasive


Diodia virginiana, Buttonweed

Galium aparine, Cleavers*

Galium lanceolatum, Wild Licorice/Lance-leaved Galium

Galium latifolium, Wideleaf Bedstraw

Galium odorata, Sweet Woodruff*

Galium pedemontanum

Galium rubrum, Madder*

Houstonia purpurea, Purple Houstonia    

Mitchella repens, Partridgeberry or Squaw Vine (name is of Algonquian origin) Species of concern

Rubia tinctoria, Madder*

Sherardia arvensis, Blue Field Madder*


Ruta graveolens, Rue*


Anemopsis californica, Yerba Mansa*

Houttuynia sp., Vietnamese Coriander*

Saururus cernuus, Lizard’s Tail


Astilbe biternata, Appalachian Goat’s-beard

Astilbe sp., Ornamental*

Heuchera americana, American Alumroot

Heuchera spp., Coral Bells

Micranthes micranthidifolia, Branch Lettuce

Mitella diphylla, Miterwort or Bishop’s Cap

Tiarella cordifolia, Foam Flower


Schisandra glabra, Magnolia Vine


Scrophularia ningpoensis, Xuan Shen*

Scrophularia nodosa, Figwort*

Verbascum blattaria, Moth Mullein

Verbascum phoeniceum, Bouquet Mullein

Verbascum thapsus, Mullein 


Brugmansia versicolor, Apricot Angel’s trumpet*

Datura metel?, Indian Thornapple*

Datura stramonium, Datura/Jimson weed

Nicandra physalodes, Apple of Peru*

Nicotiana sp., Tobacco*

Solanum americanum, Black Nightshade

Solanum carolinense, Carolina Horse Nettle



Laportea canadensis, Wood Nettle

Pilea pumila, Clearweed 

Urtica dioica, Stinging Nettle*



Verbena hastata, Blue Vervain

Verbena stricta, Hoary Vervain*

Verbena urticifolia, White Vervain 


Hybanthus concolor, Eastern Green Violet

Viola blanda, Sweet white Violet

Viola hastata, Halberd-leaved Violet

Viola pedata, Birdfoot Violet  

Viola pallens, Northern White Violet 

Viola palmata, Early Blue Violet

Viola pubescens, Yellow Woodland Violet

Viola sororia var. sororia, Blue or Confederate Violet



Parthenocissus quinquifolia, Virginia Creeper

Vitis sp., Fox Grape 

Vitis sp., Scuppernong

Vitis sp., Grape* 

Suspected: Bladder Campion, Coral-root Orchid, Mtn Pepper Bush, Vermilion Pimpernel & Whorled Loosestrife 



Asplenium platyneuron, Ebony Spleenwort 

Asplenium montanum, Mountain Spleenwort


Athyrium niponicum, Japanese Painted Fern*


Pteridium aquilinum, Bracken Fern


Polystichum acrostichoides, Christmas Fern

Huperziaceae (a clubmoss family)

Huperzia lucidula, Shining Clubmoss


Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern


Botrypus virginianus, Rattlesnake Fern or Sang-pointer


Osmunda regalis, Royal Fern


Adiantum capillus-veneris or pedatum, Maiden Hair Fern


Athyrium filix-femina subsp. angustum or filix- femina subsp. aspleniodes, Lady Fern

Onoclea sensibilis, Sensitive Fern

Woodsia obtusa, Bluntlobe Cliff Fern


Pleopeltis polypodioides, Resurrection fern

Polypodium appalachianum, Appalachian Polypody 


Phegopteris hexagonoptera, Broad Beech Fern

Thelypteris noveboracensis, New York Fern  


Lycopodiaceae (a clubmoss family)

Diphasiastrum digitatum, Fan Clubmoss

Lycopodium spp., Running Cedar


Selaginella sp.



Bryoandersonia sp. 


Fissidens sp. 


Ulota crispa


Atrichium sp.

Polytrichum commune 


Thuidium sp.


Halyomorpha halys, Brown Marmorated Stink Bug- Invading the home and land!!!!

Hypochilidae, Lampshade Spider. One of the oldest known lineages of living spiders.  Lives in wide funnel/lampshade shaped webs on rock boulders or overhangs.  Found on boulder near waterfall. 

Mantis religiosa, European mantis

Meloe americanus, Blue-humpbacked-blister Beetle

Ground Wasps



Danaus plexippus, Monarch

Polygonia comma, Comma


Battus philenor, Pipevine Swallowtail

Papilio troilus, Spicebush Swallowtail


Phoebis sennae Suplhur

Pieris rapae, Cabbage White

BIRDS: (Seen or heard on the Property)


Accipiter cooperi, Cooper’s Hawk

Circus hudsonius, Northern Harrier 


Bombycilla cedrorum, Cedar Waxwing


Cardinalis cardinalis, Cardinal

Passerina ciris, Painted Bunting 

Passerina cyanea, Indigo Bunting 

Piranga olivacea, Scarlet Tanager


Cathartes aura, Turkey Vulture


Tree Creeper 


Zenaida macroura, Mourning Dove

BIRDS Continued:


Corvus sp., Crow

Cyanocitta cristata Bluejay


Coccyzus erythrothalmus, Black-Billed Cuckoo


Coccothraustes vespertinus, Evening Grosbeak

Spinus tristis, American Goldfinch 


Hirundo rustica, Barn Swallow


Dumetella carolinensis, Gray Catbird

Mimus polyglottos, Northern Mockingbird


Poecile carolinensis, Carolina Chickadee

Baeolophus bicolor, Tufted Titmouse


Mniotilta varia, Black and White Warbler

Seiurus aurocapilla, Oven Bird

Setophaga citrina, Hooded Warbler


Junco hyemalis, Dark-Eyed Junco

Melospiza melodia, Song Sparrow

Pipilo erythrophthalmus, Eastern Towhee

Other Sparrows




Meleagris gallopavo, Wild Turkey


Colaptes auratus, Northern Flicker

Dryobates pubescens , Downy Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus, Pileated Woodpecker

Leuconotopicus villosus, Hairy Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus, Red-bellied Woodpecker


Regulus calendula, Ruby-crowned kinglet

Regulus satrapa, Goldencrowned Kinglet


Megascops asio, Eastern Screech Owl 

Strix varia, Barred Owl

Archilochus colubris, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird


Thryothorus ludovicianus, Carolina Wren

Troglodytes hiemalis, Winter Wren


Sialia sp., Blue Bird

Turdus migratorius, American Robin 


Sayornis phoebe, Eastern Phoebe 



Tyto alba, Barn Owl


Vireo olivaceus, Red-Eyed Vireo





Strobilomyces, Old Man of the Woods


Cantharellus sp., Chanterelle


Cordyceps sp.


Chlorociboria aeruginascens, Blue-Green Stain Fungus 


Hygrophorus flavescens, Yellow Waxy Cap


Hypomyces, Lobster Mushroom


Marasmius rotula, Pinwheel Mushroom


Morchella esculenta, Morel


Bird’s Nest Fungus

Lentinula edodes, Shiitake

Omphalotus illudens, Jack O’ Lantern


Armillaria sp. Honey Mushrooms


Pleurotus ostreatus, Oyster Mushroom 


Fistulina hepatica, Beefsteak Fungus

Laetiporus sp. Chicken of the Woods

Phellinus robiniae, Locust Polypore

Trametes versicolor, Common Turkey Tail 

Trichaptum biforme, Violet-toothed Polypore


Scutellinia scutellata, Eyelash Cup Fungus


Russula sp., Russula 

Lactarius spp.


Tremellodendron pallidum, False Jelly Coral


Stereum ostrea, Oyster Shaped Stereum


Xylaria polymorpha, Dead-man’s Fingers


Umbilicaria americanus, Rock Trype



Lycogala epidendrum, Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold

Stemonitis splendens, Chocolate Tube-Slime

Mary Morgaine’s first introduction to Herb Mountain Farm and the Cosmincident that followed.

“Be very careful what you set your heart upon, for you will surely have it.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

   In 2005, A friend called and asked me if I wanted to help her mulch a big field at a local farm before planting it in garlic, so I took up the opportunity for some extra work. I wanted to wean from my many hours of one-on-one work with special needs children and adults, and bring in more physical labor and outdoor work into my life. When I arrived at Herb Mountain Farm, I knew I had landed in a place that would play a significant role along my life path. I had no idea how significant that would be, though!

   Hart, the owner of the farm, came out and gave us explicit instructions for mulching- exactly how we were to lay the hay so that the least amount of weeds could get through. Some of the hay bales were old and packed so tightly it was like wrestling a beast to pull away tufts of hay. Pitchfork by pitchfork, we spread the hay all over the half-acre field. It took days. I loved every minute of it though, as we sang while spreading the hay. Periodically I would stop to do cartwheels or handstands along the edge of the plot. I was outside and using my body, and I felt free in a way that had been frozen for years! I loved this work.

   I stayed on for the garlic planting, and Hart and I hit it off quite well. He was full of experiential knowledge of organic farming, having done it for longer than I had been alive, and very generous. He saw that I was eager to work and asked if I wanted to give working there three days a week a try for a month, being a farm hand and groundskeeper- a general helper with whatever needed to be done around the property that I could manage. I said I would be honored, and thus my job at Herb Mountain Farm begun. 

   This work was more than I could have known to ask for, as far as honing my strengths and transforming my weaknesses. I became physically stronger than I had been at any time in my life and most of the time I worked alone (with Savannah my dog, always by my side,) so I had the chance to observe nature, sing and imagine, all to my heart’s content. 

   Several months of the year were dedicated to garlic, Allium sativum. Mulching, planting, weeding and watering the beds, harvesting, curing and storing, cleaning and then selling garlic, garlic, garlic. For the several years that I worked so intimately with the garlic, I had quite a purification happen. I understood why garlic was the herb used to scare off demons and vampires, for being in its presence so often brought to the surface old “demons” in me and helped send them on their way. Every one of us has shadow sides and most of us spend our life trying to avoid seeing them. I felt that working with the garlic left the uglies in me with nowhere to hide. It was some powerful medicine. 

   When I was not dealing with garlic, Hart taught me how to correctly prune fruit trees, build rock paths, prep and clean beehives, maintain the goose pen and chicken house, build and enrich the soil, grow an array of vegetables, transplant anything big or small, save seeds, clean out well cisterns, dig ditches, build swales, cultivate berry hedges, manage large tracts of land from bramble and bittersweet vines taking over, and more! In short, the years working for Hart taught me how to love and steward a piece of land with consciousness.

   Hart was patient with me when I made mistakes and freely shared his knowledge with me on any topic. Not only was he an incredible employer, he was a friend. I had been learning organic gardening and sustainable living practices since 1993 and implementing them here and there, but working at Herb Mountain Farm allowed me to take this passion to another level and get genuine hands on experience in basic homesteading. 

   In 2007, during the planting of the garlic, I, unawares,  lost my special turquoise ring. When I was 19 years old, in the early 90’s, and living in Bellingham, Washington attending Fairhaven College at Western Washington University, I met a street vender who had a turquoise ring for sale—the thought of this ring kept drawing me back to his cart day after day. I finally came up with the $20 to buy it and felt so thrilled to have it on my finger. 

   It did not remain there well, however, as over the years I would lose it periodically only to find it again in the strangest of places. Usually I could not remember where or when I lost it, as though it had just vanished. When I would notice that it was no longer on my finger, I would wonder, “When did this happen?”

   The stone itself had started to fall out of its silver setting and would disappear for weeks at a time. Once, I found it lying in the yard, a turquoise glow catching my eye. Another time someone found it in an auditorium after it had been missing for months. When I met a jewelry maker at a Nanci Griffith concert and asked if she could fix the ring, she agreed to put the stone into a new setting that would embrace it better, as well as fit my finger more securely.

   So I left the ring, my address, and $50 with her, along with complete faith in its return. Three months later I received it in the mail, looking beautiful in its new band.

   I wore it for a couple months, and then it disappeared again. This time it took missing for a year. I felt it would turn up again at some point. On the spring equinox of 2006, I completed my seasonal ritual of harvesting ‘black gold’–my worm castings compost pile. The months of kitchen waste had been transformed into three, 5-gallon bucket-fulls of beautiful soil. As I stored the buckets away for later use, I scooped out a quart of it to dress my houseplants.

   As I spread the finished compost on my beloved ficus tree, the ring peaked out of the ‘black gold’.  I stared in awe, then grabbed the ring and went to lie down in my yard under the silver maple tree and just cried with the magnificence of the moment. The ring had spent a year in the transformation process of turning plant matter back into rich earth, which is some of the most basic, important work there is to a healthy planet, and so I felt like I had been crowned a queen to wear this ring again after what it had been through.

   It stayed on for six months, until that autumn when it disappeared again. It was during the garlic-planting season at Herb Mountain Farm that it went missing.  But again, it could have fallen off anywhere, for when I realized it was not on my finger, I was in that spellbound place of wondering how long it had been gone.

   About nine months later, I started thinking about my lovely turquoise ring. I said a prayer to the Almighty, “If this ring shows up again, I will never doubt your hand of Grace that rules my life. There will be no more room for worries or fears if this comes back to me yet another time.” Big statement, I know.

   I had a gold journal that I called Ceridwen’s Cauldron in which I wrote down things that I wished to do or have; things that I do not have time to do currently in my life but hope to some day, or things I cannot yet afford, and other things that are beyond my control. I delegate these matters to the Great Mystery, where magic and miracles are always unfolding. I wrote down ‘The Ring’.

   A couple days later, in June, I was harvesting the quarter acre or more of the fall-planted garlic at the farm with a group of women. One of the women on the other side of the field from me pulled up a garlic plant and gasped, for there was a ring at its base. I walked over and saw that it was the ring, my turquoise ring, attached at the base of the leaves and the head of the bulb!!! I asked to hold the stalk and immediately began trembling with such a powerful knowing of Divine love and the respect of being heard, that all I could do was cry with joy and in humbleness and lift up my arms to the heavens in praises. We were all in amazement!

Mary Morgaine and Kaia harvesting garlic in Nova Field

   The ring had fallen off while I was planting the garlic cloves in the field, 9 months before!  Apparently a clove sprouted in the center of the ring and held on to it, underground until the garlic fully developed into its potential, bringing back the ring to light with the harvest.

   I think of this as a cosmincident– a lining up with the cosmos- a celebratory event. 

   11 years later, Hart and I are almost at our journey’s goal of opening up a Learning and Lodging Center, the transformation and transition of Herb Mountain Farm. I see this being a place of healing, learning, growing and cosmincidences. I still think that ring, that piece of gemstone that originally grew in the deep veins of Mother Earth, by returning back to the soil and then the light of day, again and again, is in part responsible for this.