Mike Garvey Presentation on Historic and Unique Trees that can be Found in in Our Community

Mike Garvey has an intense interest in trees and has identified, photographed and studied over 15,000 trees in our area. Mike Garvey stressed the need for large long-living trees. Besides giving great shade, the trees make for a healthy environment – taking in CO2 and giving off oxygen. Their large root systems capture a large amount of run-off and prevent erosion. Large trees also increase property values. When you consider all the benefits of a large tree and put a price tag on its value, the tree can be worth thousands and thousands of dollars.

The majority of trees originally planted in our community represent a first generation of species that are nearing the end of their safe and useful life expectancy. Mike Garvey has documented and taken pictures of heritage trees in our downtown area that have been here since on or before 1900. For instance, the vase-shaped American elms currently growing on the Yellowstone courthouse lawn were planted in 1902. Also, Mike has done the documentation to get a catalpa, a ginkgo and a bristle cone pine tree that are growing in the Billings area listed in Montana’s Biggest Trees Registry.

Over the past 125 years countless heritage trees of Billings have died or are dying from old age, harsh climate conditions, disease and human-caused neglect. Garvey suggested that we should be getting clones from these long-lived and majestic trees. His thinking is that these trees have been able to survive because they have the genetics that match the environment.

Mike Garvey has noticed that landscapers and homeowners in the Billings area commonly replace the older dying trees with a limited variety of quick-growing, short-living, disease and insect prone trees with quaking aspen and green ash being some of the most overused. However, in his study and search to identify trees in our area, he has come across rarely seen species growing quite successfully. He showed beautiful photos he had taken around Billings of black locust, catalpa, white spruce, American Larch, Northern red oak, bur oak, redbud, Ginkgo, tulip tree, Kentucky coffee tree, American yellowwood, golden chain, Pierson ironwood, shellbark hickory, bristle cone pine, common pear, Ohio buckeye, purple robe locust, yellowhorn, hackberry, and autumn blaze maple.

Mike Garvey believes we should be optimistic and not let the weird storms that have hit our area in the last couple of years prevent us from planting trees. Also, he thinks we should be a bit adventurous and plant a larger variety of trees some of which are slow-growing but have fewer diseases and longer lifespan.

Mike Garvey’s study of trees has led him to pay close attention to the soil and how important organic matter, microbial activity and drainage are for the tree’s health. When planting a tree, he suggested leaving some of the clumps of dirt intact to help keep the microbial make-up of the soil. Overwatering interferes with the trees ability to respire and according to Garvey is the major cause of death for newly planted trees. Also he feels the need to have plenty of room for the roots to grow. He showed pictures that were taken in downtown Billings of newly planted trees on tiny boulevards giving the roots nowhere to go. (He called these tree coffins.) Mike’s talk was very informative and we came away with a wealth of information.

Submitted by Elaine Allard


Since the opening of the new library, Master Gardeners Tracy Livingston & Elaine Allard have coordinated almost 20 presentations with Master Gardeners and community members volunteering to share their expertise. Recent presentations were Gainan’s on Micro Greens in January; Tom Kress on Tools and Tips for Seed Starting in February; and Arborist Mike Garvey on “Unique and Seldom Seen Trees Planted in Billings” in March. Coming up on April 18th (5:00-6:00) is lawn expert James Roberts from TruGreen. James will talk about lawn care including: nutrient needs, pest management, and cultural practices and how to address common problems such as weeds, insects, diseases and corrective and preventative actions.

Information on upcoming gardening presentations can be found on the Library calendar http://billingslibrary.org/ calendar.aspx and in the Library Newsletter http://billingslibrary.org/DocumentCenter/View/317 and listed in Amy’s calendar as upcoming events.


Submitted by Elaine Allard

Everything Edible: Roots to Fork

Everything Edible: Roots to Fork
3rd Annual Lewis & Clark County Master Gardener Celebration
Saturday, March 4, 2017

Please see the registration information, including agenda, pricing, hotel info and the registration form for the Lewis & Clark County Master Gardener Celebration to be held March 4, 2017 in Helena. Look like a GREAT time!

Make check payable to: Lewis & Clark County Extension Fund.
Mail to: Gold Country MT , Master Gardeners Assn., 100 W. Custer Avenue, Helena, MT 59602
Registration Form: http://www.lccountymt.gov/fileadmin/user_upload/Education/Extension/121316_Registration_Form.pdf
Hotel Accommodations: Comfort Suites, 3180 N. Washington St., Helena, MT: 406.495.0505. This is legislative season so make your reservations early. The hotel provides a shuttle to/from the Fair-grounds, rooms are at state rate ($95, single/double occupancy), there is continental breakfast, and vehicle plug-ins. Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds is located 2.5 miles due west on Custer Avenue. Room block expires Feb. 16, 2017, reference: Master Gardeners. Registrants are responsible for their own accommodations.
Facebook: Gold Country Montana Master Gardeners Association

The Northwest Flower and Garden Show

The Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle is scheduled for February 22-26, 2017 at the Seattle Convention Center. Below is all the information you will need in order
to make your own travel and hotel arrangements as well as purchase your flower show tickets.
Montana Master Gardener will host a Meet & Greet meal (excluding alcohol) on Thursday
evening, February 23, 2017. If you are attending the show and want to join the Montana group for a free dinner please RSVP to me by February 1, 2017 so Dara can confirm your reservation number at the restaurant. She will email you the dinner details at that time.
For hotel options go to: https://www.gtameetings.com.

The Crowne Plaza is the hotel we have used in the past. It is a very nice hotel, right in downtown Seattle and only 2-3 blocks to the Convention Center, they have the best rate for being so close to the show.
Airlines: Alaska: https://www.alaskaair.com
Flower Show Tickets: http://www.gardenshow.com/tickets. Early bird tickets (before February 21) are $17 per person/per day, after that they are $22.
Flower Show Information: http://www.gardenshow.com. This lists all the show details and seminar schedules as well as exhibitor info.
This is a wonderful show and we always have a great time and learn many new things…as well as coming home with some fun souvenirs. Please consider attending, it is well worth it!

Dara Palmer, Assistant Master Gardener Coordinator
Email: dara.palmer@montana.edu
Tel: (406) 994-2120

A Tour at the Montana Audubon Center

On July 16, 2016, we were in for a treat. As we made our way to the Montana Audubon Center, a group of early birdwatchers were ready with binoculars for a morning of viewing and identifying our feathered friends. We too were ready to take in the sweet smell of sage and the songs of birds calling from the trees.

We were met by Trinity Pierce, Land Stewardship Coordinator and former Master Gardener, who invited us to pick a variety of mint leaves to tear apart and place in a jar of sun tea for refreshment after the tour. A woman in our group also used the leaves on her legs as a bug repellant.

Since 1998, volunteers have been reclaiming an old gravel mine, planting 65,000 native trees, shrubs, and grasses just of of South Billings Boulevard. The Center is a cooperative partnership with YRPA, YVAS and the Montana Audubon. The Center was build with conservation and place-based education in mind for people of all ages to learn about the birds, plants, bugs, and aquatic creatures of the Yellowstone River riparian area. Children go there for field trips, classes, summer camps, and after school programs, and adults can enjoy the Center on Sun-days, when they offer canoeing, bird watching, and other fund activities. Nearby Norm Schoenthal‘s Island is a great place to walks dogs, explore the trails, or cross-country ski in the winter.

Trinity and her volunteers have done a great job preserving the natural landscape and native plants, encouraging them through much mulching and coaxing. There were clusters of beautiful Blanket Flowers, Echinacea, Cone-flowers, Blue Flax, Mustard and many other wildflowers to attract pollinators. Trinity took us to the three ponds where children can conduct research, enjoy the thrills of canoeing, and may be experience a turtle or two. Giant cottonwoods and willows surround the water, providing habitat for many varieties of wildlife.

As we savored our herbal tea, Trinity showed us the Center, named after the dedicated Norm Schoenthal, she told us that it recycles water as it is used inside. Children use the Center as a lab, and gain hands-on experience with identification of plants and animals. A lot of respect and hard work has gone into the reclaiming and healing of this area of the Yellowstone. It is a hopeful place. The tea was delicious too! A combination of chocolate, pineapple, and apple mint leaves, fragrant and cool.

Submitted by: Julie Osslund