Montana’s Biggest Trees Registry

The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation keeps records on the largest trees in the state. These trees have been cataloged as the largest representatives of their particular species discovered so far. From looking at past registries, it appears that most of these record trees are located in the northwestern part of the state.

However, many species of Montana trees have not yet been nominated and there is a special category for urban trees. There is no funding to support this program; its success is mostly dependent on the volunteer efforts.

Forms and technical directions on how to measure a tree for nomination can be found on-line

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Maybe like me, this will perk your interest in becoming a “Big Tree Hunter”. Is there a “specimen big tree” in your yard or neighborhood? Or, will one of us find a tree to nominate in one of our outdoor adventures across the state?

(By the way, if you really get into this, there is also a national big tree registry. http:// )

An excellent reference book on trees: Michael Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants.

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 calendar.aspx and in the Library Newsletter 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:
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:

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:
Flower Show Tickets: Early bird tickets (before February 21) are $17 per person/per day, after that they are $22.
Flower Show Information: 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
Tel: (406) 994-2120

Grafting Workshop Review

Grafting class, spring 2016, Laura FinkbeinerThis spring I had the opportunity to attend a grafting workshop that was presented by Toby Day, our State Extension Agent, and Laura Finkbeiner, an expert at grafting apple trees.  Both did an excellent job of presenting and teaching us how to graft apple trees. Here is a bit of the information that I gathered from the class.

  • Planting seeds from a specific variety of apple tree do not produce an apple tree with that exact cultivar’s fruit. Apple trees can only be reproduced “true” to the original cultivar by grafting.
  • Some of Montana’s heritage apple tree branches are being grafted to new root stock to keep the old genetics alive. (See article on Montana Heritage Orchard Program.)
  • With our short growing season, dry conditions, and long harsh winters it is important to have a tree that can withstand these conditions. One such apple tree that can withstand these conditions originated in Russia and is called Antonovaka.  It is often used for the root stock when grafting other desirable cultivars of apple (such as Goodland, Honey Crisp, and Sweet Sixteen to name a few).
  • The part that is grafted on to the root stock is called the scion.
  • There are special knifes that are made just for grafting and they are specific to left or right handed individuals.
  • The grafting knife should be cleaned between each cut. (Lysol spray disinfectant or denatured alcohol are good products to use.)
  • A whip graft is made by using your grafting knife to make a single straight slanting cut on both the scion and the stock. Toby and Laura made it look as simple as (apple) pie!  For us beginners it was really quite scary and took a bit of practice to accomplish.  Luckily we all left with all our fingers and no bloodshed.
  • In order for the graft to take, the cambium of the scion and stock must be lined up and in contact with one another.
  • Grafting tape and wax are used to cover and protect all grafted areas. (Laura had devised a clever and useful way of using her body to keep the wax pliable.)
  • If you ever get a chance to attend a grafting workshop given by Toby Day or Laura Finkbeiner, you should do it. You can also find some good information on grafting at
  • On last note, my grafted apple tree is growing! Aren’t plants just amazing!!!

Elaine Allard