Billings Arbor Day Activity

by Elaine Allard

Again this year, Master Gardeners took an active part in the City of Billings Arbor Day activities. This year’s event was held on May 2nd at Central Park.

Sharon Wetsch, Fay Danielson, Sue Weinreis, and Linda Brewer helped the City Arbor Day Committee with registration and a variety of other tasks. Charlie and Ron Hendricks helped all of us who arrived early and were scurrying to get canopies, tables, posters, and props for our educational booth set up before the fourth graders’ 9 a.m. arrival.

JAS 17Sheri Kisch and Sherry Doty presentations on pollinators and their importance to the environment captivated the students. With some help from the students, Merita Murdock and Elaine Allard mixed clay soil, potting mix, water, and native flowering plant seeds to form a ‘cookie dough’ consistency mixture. Mary Davis, Vonnie Bell, Rosemary Power, Debbi Werholz, and Bess Lovec helped the 175 students that rotated through our booth use the mixture to make their own ‘seed bombs’ and pack them into egg cartoons. At noon, after having a very fast moving and enjoyable morning, it was time to pack up, have lunch and start thinking about next year’s Arbor Day.

Seed Bombs to Create Habitat for Pollinators

Presented by Yellowstone County Master Gardeners

The seed bombs contain a mix of clay soil, potting mix, water, and flower seeds which bloom at different times. The flowers will attract pollinators (bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, etc.) by providing them food (nectar) and a place to live. This will help to make a better environment for humans and many animals that depend on pollination for much of their food.

Directions

  1. Leave the seed bombs in the egg carton in a cool dry place for a couple of days.
  2. Throw or place the seed bombs in an area where the ground has been disturbed or in a flowerbed. The seed bombs do not need to be buried.
  3. Hope for good rains or help them along with a little water.
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2019 Class Updates

This year’s classes seem to have gone by so fast. With a wonderful crowd of 50 for Level 1 and around 10 for Level 2, it’s been a very good year. Of course it helped to have Toby Day come from Bozeman to kick off our class sessions too. Was so great to have him here to energize both a Level 1 and a Level 2 class session. (Love Toby’s heart for being there for us and our program.) I want to especially thank our most dedicated Master Gardeners who have coordinated our Level 1 and Level 2 classes: Bob Wicks, Brian Godfrey, Corry Mordeaux, Sharon Wetsch, Sherry Doty, Tracey King and Tom Kress. You all ROCK!

So now comes spring and the 2019 growing season. I want to encourage all the Master Gardeners who haven’t yet set up their mtmastergardener.org accounts to do so as soon as possible…and many of you haven’t! ☹ This site would have really helped you out during class sessions, but you also need it to enter your volunteer hours. This is an important step, as this site is where all of the state’s Master Gardener volunteer hours are compiled and accessed by Toby Day and Dara Palmer. This not only proves the value of Master Gardener volunteer impact in our state, but is also where you qualify to receive your Level 1 and Level 2 certificates and shirts. Once your required hours are entered (20 for Level 1, 30 for Level 2, 40 for Level 3), Dara will be notified and will process and send me the needed certificate/shirt.

When you select your project of interest to volunteer in, do remember to choose a favorite, and then maybe just one more that interests you. It’s better to have one or two projects to focus on, rather than half a dozen that you can only lightly dabble in. Then once you see how these projects fit your schedule, you can branch out. Just don’t want your spring enthusiasm to lead to a quick burnout.

I am looking forward to see what our impact will be in 2019….

Amy Grandpre

Volunteer Program at the Zoo

For more than two decades on Monday mornings from early spring to late fall, Master Gardeners have been tending various gardens at ZooMontana as part of the Master Gardener Program, where participants volunteer time in horticultural related community activity to earn certifications or maintain good standing. For more information on volunteering at the Zoo, please call Amy Grandpre at 406.256.2828 or email her at agrandpre@co.yellowstone.mt.gov

SENSORY GARDEN

This garden was the vision of Jane Reger. She was inspired by her husband who was losing his eyesight. She started a by-invitation-only horticulture committee in 1991 to create an educational garden to appeal to all the senses (sight, taste, smell, and texture). Starting with a flat plot of land which was dug six feet deep to form berms and memorial plants donated by visitors and supporters, the garden was (and still is) tended by volunteers from various local garden clubs and Master Gardeners. The garden now is filled with colorful flowers, plants, trees, a waterfall, and a fountain, and is a popular spot for picnics and weddings.

Julie Halverson, a Master Gardener since 1994 and a member of Sow and Grow Garden Club, has been volunteering at the Sensory Garden since its inception. She worked with Jane and Dwayne Bondy, a botanist/horticulturist at the zoo who designed the master plan for the garden. Julie said Jane would be so proud of how the Sensory Garden vision has been realized and how it has blossomed.

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Julie Halverson

Working together with other Master Gardener volunteers throughout the years, Julie observes, “Maintenance is always an issue. There is a constant need of regular volunteers to maintain the gardens throughout the season. Too many Master Gardener volunteers come to fulfill their required hours to get certified and stop after that.”

As a testament to how much Julie’s generous contribution to the garden is appreciated, a Quick Fire hydrangea was planted on the south berm by the Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association in her honor when she was stricken with cancer a few years back. You can almost always find Julie at the Sensory Garden on Monday mornings.

CREVICE GARDEN

Located between the children’s playground and the bald eagle aerie, this garden became the latest creation at the Zoo’s grounds in September. Claimed to be Montana’s first proper crevice garden, it is spearheaded by Sharon Wetsch and Teresa Bessette. The crevice garden idea came to Sharon at a garden conference she attended and she shared the vision with Teresa who procured the plants through ‘Plant Select’ in Fort Collins, CO at Colorado State University.

Crevice gardening is a technique of gardening where small hardy plants from the mountains or high elevations are tucked between closely-spaced rocks to create

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Teresa Bessette and Sharon Wetsch

miniature landscapes. Flat stones are partially pushed down into the soil vertically to create narrow channels that provide excellent drainage and help move moisture more deeply into the soil while keeping the soil around the plant crown dry so that they become drought tolerant.

The design of the garden utilizes flat stones repurposed from other projects at the zoo and driftwood collected from the Pryor Mountains by volunteers. The garden focuses on native plants and their viability to be grown locally such as cosmos, daisies, ice plants, wildflowers, sedums, and succulents.

CHILDREN’S GARDEN

This garden has been tended single-handedly by Teresa Bessette for the past seven years. Each year Teresa plants flowers of interest specifically for children (unique color, shape, texture), adds whimsical garden ornaments, swaps decorations according to the season, and builds colorful bird houses which she hangs from the oak tree. Originally, the site had a pond (the elephant statue is a holdover from it) and a few trees.

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Children’s Garden at Zoo Montana

Upon seeing the large tortoise, zebra, monkey, and giraffe statues also in the area, she decided to convert the area into a Children’s Garden. She has since created a charming fun garden consisting of a central berm with a featured design that changes every year and five planting beds with numerous colorful flowering perennials, annuals, grasses, shrubs, and trees, amidst benches and stone seating for children and adults to enjoy.

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The Flag Garden

FLAG GARDEN

This garden is located on a slope at the main entrance of ZooMontana and was adopted by the Shining Mountain Chapter of Daughter of American Revolution (DAR) in 2015. Fay Danielsen, a member of the DAR, finds tending the Flag Garden personally meaningful. She became a Master Gardener in 2016. Appropriately, the garden focuses on a patriotic red, white, and blue color theme throughout the season with annuals and perennials like geraniums, salvia, daisies, and roses. A couple of issues that the garden is facing due to its location: making sure it gets enough water especially on hot days and gophers.

HOMESTEAD GARDEN

In 2018, a trio of volunteers, Beth Adams, Sherri Porter and Lisa Salisinski, adopted this garden as their own. Located by the Homestead House and Homestead Barn, the garden has been neglected and overrun by grass and weeds. The ladies weeded the area

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Homestead Garden

underneath and around the catalpa tree and planted heirloom flowers and perennials that grow well in the shade. In addition to clearing the path along the garden shed and the sidewalk towards the rabbit hutch and chicken coop, they also weeded and edged the south and west parts of the koi pond and took on watering the potted plants by the Homestead School House entry.

CHRIS’S GARDEN

Just outside the Visitor Center doors is a garden previously known as the Triangle Garden. It is now called Chris’s Garden, in honor of Chris Chauvin, who volunteered in the Sensory Garden for many years until she passed away in 2017. A bird’s nest spruce is planted and a plaque installed within the garden in memory of her. The area showcases

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Chris’s Garden at ZooMontana

multitudinous daffodils and tulips in the Spring. Various Master Gardeners tend this garden and are revamping the area around the memorial Norway Maple to make it appealing all year round and yet accommodate the Zoo’s resident peacocks that rest there.

2018 Flower Show

The 2018 Flower Show, hosted by the Thumb-R-Green Garden Club, had the theme of “Under Montana Skies.” The flower show was held Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the D.A. Davidson Building, in conjunction with the downtown farmers market. Of course all the displays were super, but especially enticing were the underwater arrangements…what a fun twist on flower arranging.

Thanks to all the Master Gardeners who helped in making this yearly event easier for all involved: Ann McKean, Bess Lovec, Charlie Hendricks, David Fisher, Gail Tesinsky, JoAnne Bylsma, Joyce Hendricks, Linda Walters, Marion Grumett, Mary Davis, Merita Murdock, Ron Hendricks, Vonnie Bell.

Submitted By Amy Grandpre

 

Outstanding Master Gardeners

This year our county had four outstanding Master Gardeners to celebrate: Bryan Godfrey, Elaine Allard, Joyce Hendricks and Mary Davis.

Bryan, Joyce and Mary were all in attendance at the 2018 Master Gardener Celebration in Bozeman, and received their certificate and pin directly from Dara Palmer. A little history: Brian joined Master Gardeners this year (2018) and hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped yet. He took and passed Lev. 1, Lev. 2 and Lev. 3. His positive optimism and “let’s do it” outlook got him noticed and as a result he is now Yellowstone County Master Gardener Association President. He has secured a 3 year contract with Walmart for donations of garden related items, and donations from other various plants sellers. He was instrumental in coordinating the transformation of the Square Foot Demo Garden at Metra Park. He’s also involved with Zoo Montana and the Plant Select project, becoming the president of the Zoo Montana Botanical Society. He has a vision to grow our program, to make it the best and most active in the state.

Joyce joined Master Gardeners in 2010 and became a Level 3 Master Gardener in 2014. Joyce helps with the Billings Flower Show, coordinates the Master Gardener Information booth during the fair and helps with the C.A.R.E. After School program. Joyce is also a certified flower judge and is the current first Vice President for the MT Federation of Garden Clubs. She is also very involved with the Square Foot Demo garden and is an active competitor in the 4×4 competition. She also helps with ZooMontana beds, the Farmers Market Information Booth, the Jr. Garden Club, Friendship House Gardens and Veterans Park Project. Elaine and Mary both joined in 2002 and both became Level 3 Master Gardeners in 2011.

Elaine coordinated the monthly adult education seminars at the Billings library for many years, teaching some of the seminars. She has coordinated Master Gardener volunteers to serve during the annual Arbor Day event. She is a master at teaching children how to make seed bombs, which she taught at the library, during Arbor Day and with Park 2 Park Mentoring program. Elaine is also one of the editor/staff who began the YCMG Newsletter and is still active. She also served as a board member/secretary for the YCMG Association, has worked in the Metra Park Square foot garden and participated in the 4×4 competition. She also worked at the: Geranium Festival, The Billings Flower Show, Billings Farmers Market and CARE after School Program

Mary has coordinated the C.A.R.E. After School program since its beginning in 2003. She is one of the main coordinators and organizers of the Billings Flower Show, is a certified flower judge and was state president of the MT Federation of Garden Clubs from 2003 to 2005. She is also one of the editor/staff who began the YCMG Newsletter in January of 2012 and is still active. She coordinates the summer Jr. Garden Club. She’s also works at the Arbor Day events and in the Mission Garden at St. Andrews Community Gar-den. I want to thank again these dedicated Master Gardeners, who have given so much of themselves and their time to our program.

You are all a big part of our program’s success.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Volunteer at Meadowlark Courts

Not sure how to earn those volunteer hours? Look again at the list Amy sends out in the spring and pick something close to home so that you can make a commitment to make a difference. Meadowlark Courtyards are tucked at the curve in the street at 30th St. W and are home to folks staying in Billings for cancer treatment. They have traveled far and having a cheerful entry is a boost to the spirits at a difficult time. Most of the other pocket type gardens on Amy’s list can be managed when you do your own yard’s seasonal maintenance – pruning, planting, dead-heading, watering, etc.

Submitted By Elizabeth Waddington