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When a Livingston greenhouse flooded, neighbors helped muddy plants find a new home

Heather Muldoon calls building her business, Heather's Garden Service and Flower Farm, “a work of love.”

“The property was dilapidated and neglected, and so for four years I've been working to create something beautiful," she said. "We put so much time and love and energy into it. Actually a lot of our friends did too, just donating time to help us do this.

"That's the part that is, it's sad because, I mean, it's just wiped out."

The flower farm and greenhouse on 9th Street Island in Livingston was among the dozens of structures damaged in this month’s floods that swept across southern Montana.

Courtesy Heather Muldoon
9th Street Island in Livingston, where Muldoon's business is located, was surrounded by the Yellowstone River when it flooded earlier this month.

"I left at 6:00 p.m. on Monday night and from what I heard, the river was supposed to crest within a couple of hours, but the water rose another three and a half feet after I left, and so it was chest high in my greenhouse" Muldoon said. "I had a retail tent that had merchandise in it and stuff. It was chest high in a tent with three sides.

"The river just came right in."

Entire pallets of plants floated off, some of it getting lodged on the 12-acre property.

"All of my blue oak grass and all of my fescues floated away. I know they're gone 'cuz I was looking for them," Muldoon said.

Heather’s Garden Service and Flower Farm flooded as residents and business owners were forced to evacuate the area.

But in the days following the floods, neighbors stepped in to save the plants, setting up a temporary plant nursery at a neighbor’s home.

Temporary_Nursery_Basketball Court.JPG
Olivia Weitz
Yellowstone Public Radio
“So many clients have come in and it’s made me feel like I have a lot of support, so it’s very sweet," Heather Muldoon said of the temporary nursery set up at a neighbor's house.

"The communities come out to buy all the plants that we saved," Muldoon said. "I had just pickup truck after pickup truck of friends, neighbors, strangers who came down while the water was still high and helped us to ferry plants to this new location.”

The Robertsons, Heather’s neighbors, opened up their backyard and set up a temporary plant nursery. Their daughter, Sophie Robertson, says a lot of the community showed up and brought home plants that were damaged by the flood.

“When all the plants were found, they were covered in silt and mud; you can kind of see it left over," she said. "But most of the work right off the bat was hosing them all off. And these are plants that just are in pretty tough shape, so they're not good to sell at full price, but we're asking for donations in exchange for a plant."

Muldoon says she isn't sure what she lost yet, but thanks to her neighbors, "we had a lot of rescues.

"It's been amazing," she said.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.