Calendar Items for Spring

APRIL 13 ~BLGS LIBRARY~ FAMILY MYSTERY NIGHT 6:30 PM

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

MAY 1 ~ ARBOR DAY ~ LAUREL, MURRY PARK ~ 10:30 – 3

MAY 3 ~ ARBOR DAY ~ BILLINGS OPTIMIST PARK ~ 7:30 – 1

MAY 5 ~ GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP DAY ~ 707 W 3RD, LAUREL

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

MAY 19 ~ GERANIUM FEST ~ ZOO MONTANA ~ 10 – 4

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THE OTHER FARMERS’ MARKET

Thinking about planning your garden for the summer? Consider planting a little extra to sell at the Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market.

The Healthy By Design Gardeners’ Market is a community market held Thursdays, the 2nd week in June through the first week of October, 4:30-6:30 pm at South Park (Intersection of S. 28th Street and 6th Avenue S.).

The goal of the Gardeners’ Market is to provide an outlet for consumers to purchase fresh, healthy, local and affordable produce and eggs, as well as provide a place for local gardeners and farmers to directly sell their produce. The market is also a social meeting place to celebrate health and nutrition in the community.

The environment is relaxed and social with lots of educational activities for children as well as adults. There isn’t a vendor fee, we just ask that vendors reflect the savings in the price charged for produce, and there is no commitment that you need to be at every market.

If you have questions or would like to consider this opportunity contact Maia Dickerson, market@healthybydesignyellowstone.org or 406-651-6403 and she will put you on the contact list for vendor updates and May training!

By Maia Dickerson

MOSS MANSION MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

The Moss Mansion was home to members of the prominent Billings family for eighty years. Many changes have come to the property since its development in 1903, and it is as glorious as ever in the new millennium thanks to skilled and generous Master Gardeners.

Among the many features are ten gardens, several ‘vintage’ cottonwoods, an elderly Russian Olive, two giant spruces, a variety of crabapple, ash and other smaller trees, expansive lawn areas and a large cedar hedge. The patio and pavilion area at the back of the property features modern brick walks and patios, stone and wood benches, overflowing flower pots in season and a large pergola festooned with Virginia Creeper. You can find lilac bushes, hydrangeas, roses, and a glorious maple that flames red-orange in the fall.

Each spring, summer and fall smiling teams of Master Gardeners gather to carefully prune, plant, feed, and clean every corner of the property under the direction of current Staff Groundskeeper Linda Brewer and long-time Board of Directors Representative Stacey Jacobs. Donations from local businesses and other generous donors keep the garden shed on site well-stocked and the beds bright with color and texture. Thousands of visitors from near and far enjoy leisurely strolls, excellent photo opportunities, and unique weddings and other events among the vibrant, healthy trees and flowers – all thanks to Yellowstone County Master Gardeners!

With the huge variety of trees, perennials, and annuals to care for our board and staff is blessed and honored to have had the knowledgeable guidance and assistance of the Montana State University Extension and Yellowstone County Master Gardeners for years since the house became a museum. Without the support of Master Gardeners, the Billings Preservation Society would not be able to maintain the house and grounds. Since 1986 millions of dollars have gone into the preservation and operation of the stately mansion, and all of those dollars come from tours, fundraisers, events and rentals, small one-time grants, and generous donors. No permanent federal or state funds are available to operate or preserve the museum, and there are no private partners who provide permanent funding.

Learn more about the Moss Mansion, our mission, and other volunteer and educational opportunities on a tour or at mossmansion.com and on Facebook.

Submitted by Corinna Sinclair

 

Moss Mansion Christmas Party

On December 4th, the Yellowstone County Master Gardeners had the best Christmas Party ever, with 70 in attendance. The Moss Mansion was beautiful with the “Montana Christmas” themed Christmas trees decorated in each room.

Special thanks to Sharon W. for putting together the upstairs hors d’oeuvre(and Chris S. for hosting), scrumptious dinner of prime rib, ham, turkey, baked potatoes, green beans, salad, veggies, wine and a delicious selection of cheesecakes for dessert.

The present exchange turned out to be a bit of a challenge as our usual large, upstairs room was occupied, but adjustments were made. We made our circle of about 30, around downstairs tables, and with a new ‘left and right game’ the presents found their recipients.

A huge shout out to Teresa and Russ B., Duane and Tyler W., Levi R., Swann M., Heather V. and Shane F. for all your helping hands. Thanks to you the evening’s coordination, set up and clean up went much faster. You all rock!!!

Local Gardeners and Master Gardener Steve and Kelly Pottenger

Jim’s Jungle has been a fixture in town for many years. Recently, as current owners, Steve and Kelly Pottenger, sat down with me at the end of a hot day in the fenced nursery location in front of the West Park Shopping Center, a shopper asked Kelly if they still had new plants coming in. With new plants coming in through the middle of June, I agree with the nice lady – even at the end of the planting season when the garden is stuffed full, it’s still hard to stop coming here to buy plants.

The name of this place is actually Potager’s Jungle, but it is hard to bend a great tradition to fit changing times. Potager is an Old English gardening term that these folks would like customers to become accustomed to as they settle in to the location they hope to make permanent. While Steve, Kelly, and their two kids Katie and Skyler bring years of knowledge to the colorful oasis among the pavement and cement along Grand, they are quick to explain that at home the environment is even more challenging to garden. I wanted to know more about that.

Steve told me right off the bat that at home “the water is not good, the soil is not good, the wind is nasty.” Our place does not look like this, he said with a swoop of his hand. While I can relate to those challenges of rural Montana gardening, I couldn’t imagine desolation where this kind of gardener lives. Of course they garden successfully – they figure out what is most hardy for this area when they take the last of the crop home to plant in those rough conditions. The plants that survive there are the toughest,
and prove to be what they recommend to folks next year that will take whatever the Montana summer can dish out. They have hanging baskets of colorful flowers and mix their own soil for pots full of vegetables, which last year they brought in to the sunny south window and enjoyed tomatoes in the living room all winter!
What are their favorite plants? That was hard for them to pin down, but Kelly’s favorite is gaillardia. She did say when she gardened in the Kalispell area she loved the begonias and dahlias, too. They just aren’t as well suited here. Steve enjoys all plants, but perennials in particular. He gardened in Reno for many years before returning to Billings.

Where did they get the willingness to experiment in these harsh Montana conditions? Both Steve and Kelly grew up with gardening dads and even while doing those unloved weeding chores never gave a second thought to the natural ebbs and flows of the backyard landscape. Kelly spoke of an activity at the local YMCA where she was able to introduce kids to their first experience with gardening. Realizing that there are so many kids who don’t grow up with that kind of daily practice made her appreciate what she had learned from her folks. It makes Steve and Kelly happy to encourage people of all ages to get in the backyard and grow things, and they see many younger folks coming to buy plants to produce their own home-grown food.

They are teaching new generations side by side with their own kids. Katie and Skyler are learning all aspects of the nursery business and have integral parts in the family operation. Steve says Katie is great at the till, and Skyler is a very reliable ‘yard’ man, helping customers and keeping the area running smoothly. They are also learning to practice safety – Kelly and Steve make sure everyone that works in the nursery use good gardening habits: stay hydrated, have access to shade and takes breaks in a cool, protected environment, and be mindful of using good tools and proper clothing.

Steve told me that one of the things he wants his fellow Master Gardeners here to know is how grateful he and Kelly are for their help on Saturdays in May. Handing out the leaflets with gardening tips and taking the time to have conversations with beginning gardeners is a wonderful treat for their customers, and they love to see people become even more interested and confident with the insight from the Master Gardeners who help out there. I let them know that as a Master Gardener I appreciate their business and having access to vibrant healthy plant materials delivered with a smile and thanked them for a lively interview!

Submitted by Corinna Sinclair

May Master Gardeners at the Greenhouse

On May 24, Master Gardeners on the Town was hosted by Amy at the Metra Greenhouse Ed Center. Mary Davis and Amy planned on having a crackling fire to welcome all with, but winds and rain made that option impossible. Lucky for us the greenhouse became the perfect location for serving up some refreshing root beer floats to about 14 takers.

Things are coming along out there, especially the disappearance of the weeds, thanks to Greg T, Sherry D, Mary D, Gloria E, Marilyn L, Joann and Corry G.

Inside the greenhouse the Tumbleweed Teens have planted up 5 4×4 square foot beds, which are coming along nicely. Still looking for volunteers to adopt a garden patch or two out there, so if you are interested, just let Amy know.

May at the Greenhouse 2

Article and pictures by Amy Grandpre