Master Gardeners Certificates and Rewards 2019


by Amy Grandpre

Below is a list of Master Gardeners who have gotten their Certification or Hour rewards.

Level 1 Shirt & Certificate
Linda Todd
Paul Scarpari
MaryAnne Wanca-Thibault
Kyle/Deborah Neary
Maggie McBride
Roberta Fuller
Deb Yates
Lisa Guy
Keith Buxbaum
Lori Buxbaum
Kayla Grams
Claudia Janecek

Level 2 Shirt & Certificate
Elizabeth Waddington
Suri Lunde
Joanne Bylsma

Level 3 Shirt & Certificate
Sheri Frederickson
Cheryl Fowell

200 Volunteer Hours
(Yellowstone County Pin)
Donna Canino
Julie Osslund
Karen Botnen
Maia Dickerson

$25 for 400
Volunteer Hours
Brian Godfrey
Gail Tesinsky

$50 for 600 Volunteer Hours
Brian Godfrey
Joyce Hendricks
Marion Grummett
Sue Carter

Mantle Clock for 1400 Volunteer Hours
Merita Murdock – donated reward value to Master Gardener Account to use for MetraPark Square Foot Garden Signage (thanks Merita)

$200 for 2000 Volunteer Hours
Sharon Wetsch (thanks Sharon for all you do)

Aronia melanocarpa


Aronia melanocarpa
by Ann McKean

Aronia melanocarpa, common name black chokeberry (not chokecherry), can be a great addition to your Montana landscape. Typically growing 3’ to 6’ tall and wide and hardy to zone 3, this attractive deciduous shrub is native to sunny or partly sunny moist locations in the eastern and midwestern United States, but is extremely adaptable and tolerates clay, dry and alkaline soil, salt, and shade. This makes it an excellent choice for rain gardens as well as shrub borders. While its tendency to sucker makes it a good candidate for more natural plantings, our challenging growing conditions keep it in check with very little maintenance required.

Plants begin the growing season in spring with clusters 010of white star-shaped blossoms which are appreciated by pollinators. Leaves are glossy green in summer and vivid orange, red and burgundy in autumn. The self-fruitful chokeberry earns its name with plump, dark astringent pea sized fruits which are actually a pome and similar to apples. Primarily relied on by birds for late winter calories, the fruit makes a tasty jam or jelly, and is extremely high in anti-oxidants. When fully ripe, the fruit has as much sugar as grapes, and freezing reduces the astringency, which may explain why birds save it for later in the winter.

Besides jam and jelly, this superfood is commercially grown for baked goods, juice, tea, wine, barbecue sauce, sorbet, and even food coloring. While its high level of tannins makes it astringent, it has more antioxidants than any other temperate fruit, and it is a great addition to an orchard or forest garden. ‘Viking’ is one of the cultivars grown in commercial fruit production in the United States, Europe and Russia, and in ideal conditions can grow as large and live as long as a lilac. A member of the Rosaceae family, Aronia could potentially suffer from any of the ailments to which that family is subject, but is usually trouble free. While older cultivars such as ‘Autumn Magic’, ‘Iroquois Beauty’ (both 3’-4’ tall) and ‘Viking’ (3’-8’ tall), have been used in ornamental landscapes, there are several excellent newer cultivars which expand the planting possibilities for this easy shrub beyond the rain garden, wildlife garden or back of the border. ‘Low Scape Mound’ is a tidy 2’x2’ and fits neatly into any landscape planting plan singly or in a group. The newest cultivar, ‘Hedge Hog’, reaches only 8” to 14” tall but spreads up to 36”, making it a dense erosion resistant ground cover with strong three season interest and wildlife benefit.

The various cultivars of Aronia melanocarpa are attractive, beneficial easygoing additions that will fit into almost any garden or landscape. Why not add one to your garden this year!

Note: Aronia melanocarpa should not be confused with Prunus virginiana which is chokecherry. ‘Canada Red’ is the ubiquitous chokecherry tree cultivar found in ornamental plantings, and Prunus virginiana melanocarpa is the native black chokecherry traditionally used for yummy chokecherry syrup. Both of these plants grow much taller than chokeberries and have a toxic pit.

Source: htm

2019 Master Gardener Christmas Party


by Amy Grandpre

We really changed it up for this year’s Christmas Party.

For starters a major location change. Instead of the traditional Moss Mansion affair, which we were outgrowing, the switch was made to host the event at the MetraPark 4-H Building. I’m sure many of us missed the novelty 003of celebrating at the Moss but it was great to have a nice big kitchen work area for Sharon Wetsch and helpers Duane, Tyler and Jessica, to cook the turkey, ham and prime rib. Great to have lots of room for dinner tables, games and left/right gift exchange, and really great for parking.

Then the rest of the meal was put in potluck mode, and I must say, there were many delightful dishes that completely disappeared by the end of the meal. Thanks to all our cooks.

008The tables were beautifully decorated with cheery candy dishes, 004twinkling strings of lights, singing ornaments and a poinsettia for each family. Thank you Brian Godfrey, Tracey King, Cindy Roesler for your lovely work, and Sharon Wetsch for the poinsettias.

There were numerous prize drawings beautifully gift wrapped by Chris Smith. And thanks also to Chris for providing the Christmas tree – it added so much to the festivities.007

We had fun with an extra-long left/ right gift exchange, regarding Santa losing his gift bag.

And the icing on the cake: Roy Wahl brought the Big Sky Chorus 006quartet to serenade the party into the Christmas season.

Also appreciate all the helping hands for cleanup, especially dish scrubber Irene Lemieux – you rock!

Another big blessing was the weather. We’ve had so many Christmas parties with blizzards and ice and this night was just perfect for getting out and safely enjoying the evening.

I’m thinking we will utilize this area again next year.

With that, and since I realize this will be published after the holidays, I hope you all had many special blessings as you celebrated with family and loved ones.

On to 2020!

The Garden Jungle – BOOK REVIEW by Ann Guthals


The Garden Jungle
or Gardening to Save the Planet
by Dave Goulson

I just finished reading what may be my favorite nature book ever and thought I’d recommend it. It’s called The Garden Jungle or Gardening to Save the Planet by Dave Goulson. I can’t say enough good things about it.

The author is a biology professor in Great Britain. This book is about plants and insects in our yards and gardens and fascinating facts about them, as well as the effects of climate change that are endangering them, and how we can manage our gardens (that’s British for yard) to support them. It’s a rare nonfiction book that reads as quickly and grippingly as a good novel. And the author is irreverent and really funny as well.

The “saving the planet” part of the title is integrated throughout the book as well as fleshed out in the last chapter. Dr. Goulson incorporates plenty of statistics on topics such as the precipitous decline in species and the large drop in the number of garden allotments in Britain compared to during World War II. He also explains how gardening can in so many ways ameliorate the effects of climate change, e.g. by helping to sequester carbon in the soil more effectively than industrial farming.

In Dr. Goulson’s own words: “When it comes to doing our bit to combat climate change, we gardeners face a win-win situation. The more carbon we can store, by adding home-made compost, mulches or charcoal to our soils, the deeper, darker and healthier our soils will become, the more our worms will thrive, the better drained the soil will be, and the faster our plants will grow… Gardening can be truly green, and I think it might just contain the key to saving the planet.”

Here are the topics covered in the twelve chapters of the book: Plants in Profusion, the Garden Meadow, Earwigs in my Orchard, the Toxic Cocktail, the Buzzing of Bees, Moth Mayhem, Dive into the Pond, Ants in my Plants, the Wriggling Worms, Garden Invaders, the Cycle of Life, and Gardening to Save the Planet. You can see that a wide range of topics important to gardeners is explored. And I’ll never underappreciate earwigs and silverfish again after reading Chapter Three.

Dr. Goulson’s area of specialty is bees and the chapter on bees is fascinating. For example, mason bees lay eggs in tubes, complete with food and padding for each egg. They complete the home for one egg, then start again until the tube is full. But the really incredible thing is that they are capable of determining the sex of the egg and they lay females first, then fill in the last of the tube with males. This way if a wasp manages to invade the front part of the tube, there will still be female bees in the back to hatch and carry on the species. Amazing.

This is a book written about Great Britain so the recommended plants are somewhat different than what we grow here. One can take the principles from the book and do research on applying them to our location. But it is also quite interesting to read of the challenges to the environment in a different country and compare Britain’s experience with our situation here.

I just wish I could take a class from this author! Luckily he has two other books which I’ve obtained (A Sting in the Tale and A Buzz in the Meadow) so I can read more by him now that I’ve finished this one. Happy garden reading!

Whirling Carrot-Top: Valeria Jeffries

by Bess Lovec

Give this gal a hurdle and she will either bulldoze through it or climb over it. For instance, when I interviewed Valeria Jeffries, she had just finished her first marathon. Not only did she complete it: She finished best of class in her age group (admittedly due to the help of Dr. “Joe”). She bonked due to the heat, yet recovered enough to finish. One of the perkiest people I have ever met, I’ve known Val for years through the Yellowstone Art Museum, where she served as Chair of the Board. She just radiates energy, even though she’s very busy as a regional executive with Holiday stores. I felt a surge of excitement when I saw that she enrolled in the Master Gardeners’ program the year I did.

How does she do it? Gardening overlaps with most of the six roles she wishes to improve upon: leader, gardener, chef, athlete, artist, and as a spouse. Allen and she have five acres by the Yellowstone River that provide numerous opportunities for creative gardening. Allen has a salsa garden of tomatoes, cilantro, and peppers among their four raised beds. Another is of wild flowers. Plus they have a pond that Val surrounds with a variety of bulbs. “I always enjoy plants” she shares. Carrot topWith her fast-paced career involving lots of travel, Val makes time to walk through nurseries to reduce stress. Unfortunately their property was hit by the recent hailstorm, but with her can-do attitude, she brushed off the property and views the changes as an opportunity for growth. Even though her car was totaled along with six windows and two roofs, her thoughts go towards the farmers struck by the devastation.

Her gardening days began in Minnesota when her mom sent her and her siblings to the garden to pick fresh vegetables. Lately Val finds joy in companionship gardens, in which gardeners share plants with other gardeners. She hosts the Master Gardeners booth at Pompey’s Pillar’s annual event and also volunteers with Chris Smith at Jim’s Jungle every weekend in May. Chris and Val first met when providing advice at Lowe’s.

Her praise for the MG program overflows, but her highlights include getting to know other gardeners and learning specifics about soil types, fertilizers, the essentials. She values Amy’s ability to build community. Val calls herself a Master Learner rather than a Master Gardener, although, based on photographs she shared, she’s both! The only area of improvement that she hopes will evolve for the MG program? Improved, updated videos.

She’s flummoxed by begonias but has found success with black-eyed Susans and bulbs. Next Val plans a shade garden on her back patio and, potentially, grapevines. She feels her best accomplishment as a gardener is yet to come. Her advice for new gardeners radiates wisdom! Volunteer, keep reading, ask questions, and participate. That formula sounds ideal for success in any endeavor.


Square Foot Garden Winners!

This year (our ninth), the Square Foot Garden competition was great, plus we added another box for a total of 8 competition beds. You all did such a wonderful job and I thank each of you for putting in the extra time to compete this year! ~ Amy Grandpre

Box 1: Charlie Hendricks
Box 2: Ron & Joyce Hendricks
Box 3: Corry Mordeaux & Gloria Ervin
Box 4: Rick Shotwell
Box 5: Brian Godfrey
Box 6: Rebecca Starr
Box 7: Roy Wahl
Box 8: Marilyn Lockwood

Thank you judges: Debbie Werholz, Mary Davis, Rosemary Power.

First place Box 4: Rick Shotwell, – $50
Second Place Box 2: Charlie Hendricks – $25
Third Place Box 6: Rebecca Starr – $10