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

Book Review: Park’s Success with Seeds

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My Planting ‘Bible’

It seems I’ve always known gardening – introduced by my mother, her mother, and my father’s mother as well. These ladies worked hard always as farm wives, and especially diligently when they were in the garden. So when our local ag advisor visited our place on a sunny summer day between my eighth grade and freshman years to help me choose an FFA ‘SOEP’ (Supervised Occupational Experience Project? Gosh, it’s been a long time…) we discussed all the common options (sheep, pigs, crops, cows, mechanics and equipment), but briefly. He suggested a greenhouse project that was such a natural fit it stuck with me, and my mom, as we supplied our small town with bedding plants for the next twenty years. Among the various reference materials we used to construct the greenhouse and develop our processes, I owe a lot of our immediate and long-lasting success to this book, Park’s Success with Seeds. It is the most comprehensive reference I’ve ever used for selecting and propagating seeds and plants.


From the introduction to the glossary this book is easy to read, with detailed, accurate descriptions of practically every process you might use for choosing, propagating, and planting seeds. Beginning with the variety of supplies you will need on hand, the author, Ann Reilly, steps through the why’s and how’s of containers, lights, soils and other planting media, watering, temperature control, humidity and fertilizer. Her suggestions for alternate materials can save you time and money, proving that much can be accomplished with items you already have on hand (or in the trash can!) to start your own garden or houseplants.


As a fourteen-year-old embarking on an endeavor even her gardening grandma’s had never really explored in depth, this was foundational information that made an impression. Our greenhouse was built, supplied, and used for years based on the basic information in Success with Seeds. It was as much a textbook as any I’ve ever used in a class.


Ann’s detailed plant identification material in Success with Seeds is exemplary. If you never intend to plant your own seeds, this book is still a fabulous help to choosing the plants you will use for your windows, gardens, and beds. Starting with a listing of plant families, the book includes pictures of not only mature plants by genus, but photos of sprouts and first true leaves with individual descriptions on about one thousand specific species. (This has helped me distinguish weeds from keepers for many years!) The descriptions include genus and species, common name, origins, hardiness, uses, habit, germination needs, and culture. This large section is the part that was recommended reference in the recent January newsletter to accompany seed catalogue shopping. It is as relevant now as it was in the seventies when this book was published. There are many current books and magazines available for newer varieties, but this book is still a reliable starting point and includes basic information that is helpful in understanding the origins and growing requirements of modern hybrids as well.


The appendix seems page-thin compared with the photo section, but the information there is incredibly helpful. There are excellent listings for “PLANTS FOR EASY CULTIVATION (Perfect for beginners or children)”, “SEEDS THAT REQUIRE SPECIAL TREATMENT” (darkness, soaking, light, stratification, scarification, etc.), and “PLANTS FOR SPECIAL PLACES”. It also includes a glossary, and a cross reference index to help you find the botanical name if you only know a common name for a plant. There are garden layout and plant recommendations for several types of gardens, and then a great pronunciation guide and hardiness map (1978) at the end.


There are other titles in this Park’s Success series – Success with Herbs and Success with Bulbs – which I have never read or used but which may be equally valuable reference books. It seems there was only ever one edition published, which makes finding any copies a challenge and new copies are sort of like hen’s teeth. My daughter has my first copy now, so I searched the world and bought a used copy recently for myself on Amazon. Now I can refresh my memory as I sort through these seed packets and catalogues…



Submitted By Corinna Sinclair


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