Master Gardeners at Billings Public Library


On Friday, April 13th, fifteen creative and ambitious Master Gardeners plus some of their family members used the Community Room at the library to host a Family Fun Night. it was open to the public with approximately 50 people in attendance. Educational displays on square foot gardening, garden tools, wise water use, pollination, good bugs, praying mantis, pine beetles and the Master Gardener Program were set up around the room.

Library 8

Merita talking with young girl

Library 7

Butler telling participants what he did

Library 6

Pat answering questions about African violets

Library 5

Karen H. at geranium table

Library 4

Vonnie heling with children’s activities.

Library 3

Casey D. and Cindy R.

Library 2

Pat M. and actors Bee, Ron, Merita and Joann

Library 1

Sharon Y. greeting guests

Those in attendance were told about the Master Gardener program and treated to a short skit “What is this?” in which they tried to determine who was telling the truth. The main activity for the evening was getting the audience to solve the Mystery at Orchard Manor as to why some plants were not doing well and who was responsible. Furthermore, there were children’s activities, drawings for gardening prizes, and snacks. Guests went home with zinnia plants, bulbs, square foot gardening packets and educational hand outs. This educational and fun event was immensely enjoyed by the participants as well as the volunteers.

~Submitted by Elaine Allard
~Photos by Joan Griffin


Pollinator Day at St Andrew Community Garden

Master Gardner Dave Kimbell was part of the program at St. Andrew Community Garden Pollinator Day event on June 23. He also did an interview with Terry Moore which is available to watch on YouTube, The garden is in its sixteenth year and has 140 plots (it began with 40)! It includes a mission garden from which produce is donated to area social services.

MG Education in the Community

Adulting 101 at the Billings Public Library

Amy helped launch a new library series designed to navigate your adult years! From 2-3 in the afternoon, it was geared toward adult learners who want to expand their knowledge of interesting and useful topics. Amy shared a video about Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening technique, showed the type of frame you can build, and then answered a variety of yard and garden questions from an audience of 20+ adults. Questions ranged from how much water should I give my lawn to what to do to ensure healthy tomato plants. At the end of the program, MSU Extension handouts were available for participants to take home.

Tree Pruning: Less fear with practice

Pruning. The word strikes a certain terror in those of us who love our plants but fear doing anything that might harm, disfigure or discourage them, although we know it is good for maintaining the health, vigor and appearance of the plant. You know who you are.

Some of us who had tried pruning have discovered hidden talents: making branch cuts look like they were gnawed off by teeth or shaping a Picasso-esque lopsided pine tree. Others, frozen by fear of pruning, surrendered by letting that shrub that promised to ‘grow more beautiful each year’ on its tag look like roadkill.

In April, a tree pruning workshop covering basic cutting techniques and introduction to the required tools for the job was attended by a group of Master Gardeners and some spouses who were gently coerced to be there. It was hosted by Pat Plantenberg (seriously, it is his real name), the Montana Director of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (RMC-ISA) and 2017 RMC-ISA Arborist of the Year, who obviously knows trees and pruning tools. His lopping shears are called Cindi. Geddit? Cindi Lauper, haha.

tree pruning 2.pngAfter inspecting the tools we brought (my new lopping shears did not pass muster, my ancient hand-medown bypass pruners did), Pat introduced us to various equipment for successful branch cutting such as bypass pruners, lopping shears, pole bypass pruners and hand saws. Using sample trees, he then demonstrated proper cuts based on his ‘Deciduous Tree Pruning Steps’. We were then allowed to try each equipment to practice pruning skills while applying these steps on some of the trees around Chiesa Plaza at MetraPark. Sawsall to clear tree suckers? Heck yeah! Pole bypass pruner to cut crossing branches? Done!

Many thanks to Pat for this educational and confidenceboosting workshop: for sharing his knowledge on correct tree pruning techniques, best practices, opportunity to use the proper tools and the hands-on experience. Tree pruning may still be challenging but Pat convinced the attendees that with practice and common sense, any vigorous tree with a Napoleonic compulsion to take over the world, can be tamed.

So next time you see this gardener carrying a sawsall and a newer Cindi, be prepared to hear a gleeful ‘timber!’ yell.

~Submitted by Suri Lunde

Calendar Items for Spring


APRIL 28 ~ GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP DAY ~ 36 N 23rd, Billings ~ 9 AM




May 8 ~ BLGS LIBRARY ~ BEE TALK ~ 3:30 – 5:00


Just What is Plant Select and What is Happening at Zoo Montana?

Plant Select is the country’s leading brand of plants designed to thrive in high plains and inter-mountain regions, offering plants that provide more beauty with less work so gardeners of all levels can achieve smart, stunning, and successful gardens using fewer resources and with a more positive environmental impact.

Driven by the belief that the right plants in the right place matter and that cultivating plants in tougher growing environments requires smarter approaches, Plant Select leverages a uniquely collaborative model and highly selective cultivation process to find, test, and distribute plants that thrive on less water.

Plant Select’s goal is to create smart plant choices for a new American landscape inspired by the Rocky Mountain region. Plant Select is a nonprofit combining forces of Colorado State University and Denver Botanical Gardens. I (Teresa Miller Bessette) applied to Plant Select for the gardens at Zoo MT to become a test site. Sharon Wetsch and I drove to Fort Collins in August and received plant material. A new site was cut and the plants were planted. There will be meetings and more plant material in the spring!

Submitted by Teresa Miller Bessette

On Thursday March 15th from 4- 5:00 PM in the Community Room at the Billings Library, Master Gardener Teresa Bessette will be giving a presentation on the gardening activities that are going on at ZooMontana’s Botanical Garden. Make plans to attend to hear more about how the Zoo qualified as a test site for Plant Select and what it involves.