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.

janfebmar 8.1

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

janfebmar 8.3

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.

janfebmar-9.1.png

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.

janfebmar 8.4

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

janfebmar 10.1

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

janfebmar 10.2

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.

Advertisements

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

Master Gardeners at Billings Public Library

FAMILY FUN – MYSTERY NIGHT AT THE LIBRARY

On Friday, April 13th, fifteen creative and ambitious Master Gardeners plus some of their family members used the Community Room at the library to host a Family Fun Night. it was open to the public with approximately 50 people in attendance. Educational displays on square foot gardening, garden tools, wise water use, pollination, good bugs, praying mantis, pine beetles and the Master Gardener Program were set up around the room.

Library 8

Merita talking with young girl

Library 7

Butler telling participants what he did

Library 6

Pat answering questions about African violets

Library 5

Karen H. at geranium table

Library 4

Vonnie heling with children’s activities.

Library 3

Casey D. and Cindy R.

Library 2

Pat M. and actors Bee, Ron, Merita and Joann

Library 1

Sharon Y. greeting guests

Those in attendance were told about the Master Gardener program and treated to a short skit “What is this?” in which they tried to determine who was telling the truth. The main activity for the evening was getting the audience to solve the Mystery at Orchard Manor as to why some plants were not doing well and who was responsible. Furthermore, there were children’s activities, drawings for gardening prizes, and snacks. Guests went home with zinnia plants, bulbs, square foot gardening packets and educational hand outs. This educational and fun event was immensely enjoyed by the participants as well as the volunteers.

~Submitted by Elaine Allard
~Photos by Joan Griffin

Hard Work and Rewards!

Congratulations to All!

Yellowstone County Pin Rewards:
Cindy Roesler
Fay Danielsen
Steven Pottenger

$25 for 400 volunteer hours:
Sharon Yazak

$50 for 600 volunteer hours:
Mary Davis
Sheri Kisch

Level 2 certified:
Brian Godfrey

More Kudos!

Some really hard work went into our Square Foot Demonstration garden on our work day May 26th. Besides box building, weed mat laying and soil moving, there was a most dedicated group of weed attackers, and let me tell you, we had an explosion this year. Thanks to Beth A, Cindy R, Elaine A, Joyce H, Marilyn L, Rick S., JoAnne B., Cindy R., Sheryl Mc, and Sherry D.

If you get the chance, please come out and see the changes our volunteers have made at the Metra. It’s most impressive.

hard workers 2.png~Submitted by Amy Grandpre

Featured Master Gardener – Jo Lamey

Jo Lamey Gardens in Briarwood: an interview by Bess Lovec

“Oh gosh,” Jo gushed as soon as I asked her when she started gardening. Her dad had her picking apples and shelling peas before she can remember. She still practices giving away produce, currently rhubarb, as her father did with their neighbors. I hope to be at the top of her list for rhubarb next spring!

Jo acknowledges that soil in the Briarwood neighborhood differs greatly from west Billings, though, where she grew up. Her parents had an acre of vegetables, but Jo and her spouse abandoned attempting to grow vegetables south of Billings. Briarwood has a clay-based soil and sits at a higher elevation than most of our town, so acknowledging our microclimates proves worthwhile. Before fencing the deer ate everything, and Jo and her husband amended the soil for years and still do. Now they focus mainly on flowers, both perennials and annuals, and at this point boast 16 flower beds. Veggies they acquire at the Farmers’ Market, where Jo also volunteers at the Master Gardener (MG) booth.

Her most recent perennials are astilbes, which, she notices, thrive just about everywhere, such as in North Carolina and Colorado, and they burst forth too in Lamey 2Briarwood. She also is captivated this season by an annual called a monkey plant from a vendor in Laurel. Neither of us could muster the scientific names of many plants we discussed. Her father inadvertently left her a buckeye tree, producing poisonous nuts rumored to cure rheumatism when carried in pockets rather than digested. Jo shared a photo of what I initially thought was a spirea bush, but it’s called a butterfly bush, producing small white flowers. Clearly a visit to Jo’s yard would be a field day for someone wanting to formally categorize a broad variety of growth.

She includes ubiquitous flowers in the flower beds: marigolds, geraniums, and zinnias, while punctuating them with hydrangeas, dahlias, and cannas. She just stores the canna and dahlia bulbs with newspapers in a cool place over the winter. Lamey 1

I’m surprised that hydrangeas came back for her, but she shared that they are in a sheltered, easterly location. It’s amazing that she is not even retired while doing such extensive gardening! Jo is particularly busy in this election season. Having trained at MSU and at Notre Dame, she has an independent company that performs market analysis.

Jo adores Amy Grandpre’s leadership style in the Master Gardeners’ program, and she enjoyed the instructions of Bob Wicks and Corry, when she was enrolled in classes. She really has no complaints or suggestions about the program. Jo likes the Christmas gathering, volunteering at the fair booth, and recalls fondly a tour to a private garden in Park City. She prioritizes her appreciation of learning pruning skills. She no longer kills trees or shrubs. And the camaraderie of being with other gardeners cannot be underestimated.

Like any great gardener, Jo has her share of disasters. Her eight orchids got mites that could not be overcome, and now, with her abundance of healthy trees, she has perhaps too much shade, although the moss proliferates. Her roses are struggling this season while the majority of other flowers flourish. This season really prospers from all the recent moisture. Miracid and Soil Pep rise to the top of her list of helpful products. One inch of soil pep holds down her weeds.

Her advice to new gardeners: “get out there and try new things.” Yet Jo wisely recognizes that the benefits grow well beyond the obvious garden itself. Gardening helps her decompress and meditate. The earth and our relationship with it are reciprocal, or maybe even unbalanced. I know my garden gives back to me far more than I give to it, and Jo radiates this sense of joy when you meet her. I hope you do soon!

YEARROUND HELP AT ZOO MONTANA

Zoo Montana needs you! The Botanical Society at Zoo Montana maintains all the gardens at Zoo Montana. We need all the help we can get as we have reclaimed many areas that are just waiting for some fresh ideas and maintenance during the upcoming season!

Once a gardener has been shown all the gardens and participated in a short training session you are free to work at any time. We do gather on Monday mornings during the growing season and work together until 12:00 pm with a wonderful tea/lemonade break. There will be an evening work time this summer as well, the evening is yet to be determined.

During the spring we will clear, clean, and amend the soil. After Memorial Day we plant, maintain, and watch the beautiful gardens blossom into magical areas. Please consider helping us out not only to get your hours but join us as a permanent member!

Contact:
Teresa Bessette tetontess@hotmail.com 969-3477
Linda Buckingham buckingham.dbresnan.net 248-4735