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

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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

 

~Featured Master Gardener ~ Pat Morrison

Energy Creates Energy

I visited Pat Morrison on a frigidly cold day in January, when the snow was up to our hips. Pat’s driveway, though, was shoveled, spotless. I assumed a service did it for her, but she does her own snow removal and gardening at the age of 84. The snow blower helps, and she handles mowing, too, in summers. With an energetic step needed to main-tain her yard and keep up with her new puppy, Pippin, Pat’s bright, inquisitive eyes shared her gardening experiences.

She started gardening “when I was born,” she reports, chuckling. Her mother was her primary influence in what is more than a hobby to Pat. She grew up in Portland, Ore-gon, a moister region than here (and few are not), so her main challenge in Montana is dryness. Pat often waters houseplants twice a week.

I had trouble seeing her yard for the snow but soon discovered that the gigantic snow mound in the front is actually a berm that her daughter, Billings Master Gardener Joann Glasser, helped her build. Pat’s favorite plants are flowers, and they abound in her home. She keeps a poinsettia thriving after three years, and her Christmas cactus was blooming. She successfully winters geraniums, after trimming them in the fall, and African violets pro-liferate under her guidance. Pat’s flower repertoire even extends to silks. Her kitchen/ dining area feels more like a greenhouse than an eatery, and I doubt she staged it. This spring I hope to pop out to her home in the Heights to see the iris that was her mom’s, which qualifies as “heritage” from where I sit.

However, Pat is not limited to flowers and enjoys nurturing cucumbers, strawberries, and tomatoes, although she no longer cans. She recalls, from her childhood, taking produce to a canning factory in Oregon. I asked about rabbits eating her strawberries, as they do in my neighborhood, and she praised the local fox who keeps the rabbit population in check. Her area seems urban for a fox, but, after all, this is Montana!

Her advice for new gardeners is Be Patient. Be Patient… Be patient, the kind needed for raising children, and she and her husband raised four. Joann became a Master Gardener before her mother. Pat is in her sixth year as a Master Gardener, helping at the Moss Mansion in the spring plus Metra in summers, when not working her own yard. She has participated at the zoo. With her wise perspective of time, Pat values long-range planning in public places.

Her favorite aspect of the Master Gardeners’ program is, succinctly yet potently stated, fun! We are so lucky to have her on board. I don’t know how she schedules it all, considering she’s a mall walker in winter, thanks to her Nissan Rogue that she claims walks through snow, and walks her dog twice a day when snow is not on the ground. In addition, Pat volunteers every day at the Senior Center at the Methodist church in the Heights. I needed a nap just thinking about what all Pat does! I heard through the grapevine that Pat brings baked goods to many group MG events, and not store-bought but homemade, pies, cookies, and sometimes cakes. She will forever be in our hearts for this! Wow, WonderWoman. Now we can better understand where Joann gets her drive.

By Bess Lovec

gloxiniaPat sent the photo of her gloxinia bloom. It looks like a nice specimen for the Flower Show.

 

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

MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEER HOUR REWARDS

Congratulations to the following Master Gardeners for giving so much of your time to the Master Gardener program:

200 Hours – County Pin Reward
Jerry Dalton
Linda Brewer
Nan Grant

600 Hours – $50 Reward
Bob Short
Tom Kress
Vonnie Bell

400 Hours – $25 Reward
AnnaMarie Linneweber
Joyce Hendricks
Shelley Thurmond

1600 Hours – $150 Reward
Sharon Wetsch

2000 Hours – $200 reward
Julie Halverson

Keep plugging those hours in on mtmastergardener.org and you too can be on this list.
If anyone is having trouble finding the right fit for volunteering, give me a call and we will work on it.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre – 256-2821

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