What’s Growing On In: Montana

Happy June, everyone! Life has been full and busy, which has lead me to get behind on posting. But, have no fear, I have been very busy preparing my gardens now, so I can relax and enjoy the summer time, and blog about them!

I wanted to take a minute and write about my travels this year. In April, our little family went on a spring break trip to Montana. Yes, you heard it right, Montana. We stayed in Kalispell, Montana and visited Glacier National Park where we did some exploring and wandering. We also did some hiking in Lone Pine State Park. I really recommend trying to make this a future trip for anyone. In fact, we didn’t get to see it all due to the snow, and plan on visiting again.

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From the top of Kalispell, Montana and a view of the Northern Rockies.

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We traveled on the famous Going to the Sun Road, but unfortunately only about 12 of over 50 miles of it were open. It takes all summer to plow out that road! 

Now, while most people went South to Florida, or the Carolinas, we decided to head out West, where in fact it was snowing while we were out there. But, it was definitely worth it!

So, I thought I would give you a little background on gardening in Montana, and what a great destination this is to travel to yourself some day!

Kalispell, Montana

  • Hardiness Zone(s): Zone 5a, primary, but go to the mountains close by and it’s one 3a.
  • Since it’s the Northern Rockies, you would have to wait a tad longer to start planting fruits, veggies and plants. Average time to put things in the ground is June-July.
  • The flora and fauna in the alpine environment is amazing. I took a lot of pictures of stuff you just don’t find around Buffalo!
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Gigantic Cedar Trees on the edge of a very foggy Lake MacDonald.

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A small hair lichen, one of many different kinds that grows on trees in alpine environments. I hope I have ID’d it right!!

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This, I believe is called Green Old Man’s Beard lichen, that hang from the trees in Montana!

So, I thought I would give you a glimpse of our trip and introduce you to some new-to-me botanicals that you only find in the mountains. I love going to different regions of the country and learning about not only the vegetation and wildlife, but the culture as well.

 

Real Tips for Christmas Trees

We are now officially in the holiday season!! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I love this time of year! I have been busy with family and and decorating for Christmas with my 5 year old who is so excited she can’t even contain herself!

It all started Wednesday night, when my daughter was hit with her first stomach bug. Of all times, the day before Thanksgiving. But, we weathered the storm, and thank goodness 5 year olds bounce back better than someone my age– we had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and we even made it down to my parents house the next day for yet another dinner and to celebrate my mother’s birthday!

However, the days caught up with her, and she still wasn’t 100 percent. Saturday, she was left very tired and with an “unsettled” tummy. You could tell in her eyes that we needed to take a break. All she wanted to do was “put up the Christmas tree”.

Now, the week before, I did put up my artificial pencil tree in my living room and we decorated another small artificial tree for the empty room upstairs. But, she wanted to get the “Real” Christmas tree. The one with all the presents underneath!

That, we decided, would be a REAL tree. We put that one in our finished basement. My husband and I decided last year that we wanted to start a tradition by going down to the little tree stand a few minutes from our house and purchasing a real tree.

Now, this was new to me. The last time I had a real tree was ions ago when I was a little girl and my dad would go cut one from the woods on our property. They didn’t do that long. Soon after, they purchased an artificial tree and that was that!

I was nervous, however, that it was too early for a REAL tree. So, I sought advice and researched the subject. We even asked the friendly Christmas tree farm man at the tree stand. Here is some friendly advice for anyone looking into getting a real Christmas tree for the first time:

Is after Thanksgiving too early to purchase a tree?

No! But only if you pick the right kind of tree.

Here are a list of trees that can be considered as your Christmas tree:

  • Fir trees— Douglas, Balsam, etc. are the best. The most common type of tree you will find at roadside stands and farms. They will not drop their needles quickly if you water them.
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Our Christmas Tree is a Balsam Fir.

  • Cedar — I read that this is one of the best types of trees as well to have as a Christmas tree. They last forever.
  • Cypress — Another great tree that is said to last a long time!

How often do you water the tree?

Daily! Avoided needles dropping by watering your tree daily! You may have to scrap the cap of sap off the end if you notice the tree is not taking in water. The cut part of the tree is prone to the “pitch” capping over. Be watchful.

Don’t get a pine tree. Ever. 

Pine trees don’t keep their needles long at all. Unfortunately, they start falling off after a week!

Well, I hope this little guide helps. If you have any other information, please pass along! I am always looking to broaden my knowledge of horticulture in general!

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Twinkling tree and Christmas village courtesy of my daughter!

Cherry Blossom Blast

It’s finally getting warm enough for the trees to burst with cherry blossoms. Is there a better sight to see in these early spring days?

Did You Know?

-There are several different types of cherry blossoms. There are the common pink and white ones, but there are also yellow and green ones.

-They come as double blossoms and single blossoms.

-In Japan, cherry blossoms symbolize clouds, because they bloom in masses.

-Yes, some even produce cherries.

Seasonal Decor: Feather Trees

Happy first day of winter! Can you believe it’s three days until Christmas? It came so fast this year, and the fact that it has been so warm around here doesn’t help either. It’s going to be almost 60 degrees tomorrow, and the extended forecast looks pretty mild. Thanks again, El Nino!

Well, I am thankful to still be exercising outside and not stuck on the “dreadmill” because of the frigid weather. It does make the dark days a little easier I guess! I have had plenty to do inside the house, I put up three Christmas trees this year!

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This is my pencil tree in my living room.

I also decorated my beloved feather tree.

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My daughter decorated my feather tree this year.

What is a feather tree you ask?

A feather tree is the original artificial Christmas tree! They originated in Germany in the late 19th Century when the people of the time where worried they were cutting down too many trees for the holiday, so they used goose and turkey feathers and made fake Christmas trees instead.

Feather trees come in a variety of colors, and can be used year-round. I decorate mine for every holiday from Christmas to St. Patrick’s Day. I like to keep some sort of decorations up even after Christmas– transitional decor as I like to call it. I am going for a winter woodland theme this year, and so I purchased three more green feather trees. Their simple, primitive beauty is what I love so much.

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My new green feather trees are part of my Nativity scene this year.

You can pair them with pine cones or other conifers for a great seasonal look! There is so much you can do with them, and you can get them for a really good price at craft stores.

Natural looking decor that lasts year-round. What is better than that? Gardeners are nature lovers, and I can’t think of a better thing to decorate your house with. There are many ways to “dress” up your feather trees all depending on the time of year. Take some time to read more about feather trees and make them part of your home decor today!

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year!

Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it, and appreciate any feedback you have for me!

 

 

 

 

A Natural Pause

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving– the weather was perfect here– good enough to take a nice walk along our new canal path and feed the ducks in the nearby park!

However, the days to follow were not so nice. I have still have not had a chance to plant anemone bulbs like I wanted, and I hoping this weekend will be the one, or they are going in containers!

I went to my parents and celebrated Thanksgiving this past Saturday, and it was cold and rainy. I was able to sneak out of the house and go take a walk in the woods. I escaped to the pines my father planted when he was a boy. Of course, I couldn’t help but take a picture. Or two. Enjoy.

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A Natural Pause

When we went out of town for my brother’s wedding, we visited my favorite place in the whole world, Allegany State Park in my hometown. We took a hike to the popular “Bear Caves” and this is what I saw. I had to take the picture! Enjoy.

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Fall for Some Autumn-Blooming Plants!

I can’t believe this is the last weekend in August! Actually, I can, because fall is in the air. The past week or so, the mornings and nights have been much cooler. We are now in Indian Summer, and everybody’s gardens are winding down– veggies are being harvested, flowers are exhausting themselves. I look at pictures of my gardens in the early half of summer, and I’m sad to think it’s almost over. I can’t be too sad though– I do have to remember that I have a few fall-blooming plants that will keep that waning summer spark alive for just a little longer. I am constantly striving for a four season garden!

Move over, mums and asters, there are a bunch of great plants for fall interest!!!

So, what are some fall blooming plants and flowers you should consider for your landscape?

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Toad Lily (above) – this is a beautiful orchid-like flower that blooms in later summer to early fall. I had been on the hunt for these and was lucky enough to find two different types. This will definitely give me something to swoon over for the fall season!

Beautyberry — I LOVE this plant. I was so happy when I found it. This plant has these beautiful purple berries that develop during the fall. The berries on my plant have already started to turn purple! This is a great accent plant for any landscape!

If there is one plant you should have for fall color, the beautyberry is it!

If there is one plant you should have for fall color, the beautyberry is it!

Morning Glory- this beautiful annual vine is just about ready to bloom for me. They tend to bloom in late summer to early fall. I can’t wait to see this beauty.

**Something to consider when it comes to a four season garden is using then same “venue” for climbing plants such as the Morning Glory. Now that my Clematis has exhausted itself, I planted Morning Glory seeds behind the trellis I had for it. I now have a Clematis for the summer and a Morning Glory for the fall– I will always have a visual interest in that spot.

As one vine dies away for the season, another one is ready to bloom!

As one vine dies away for the season, another one is ready to bloom!

Japanese Maple – I own two different types of these trees, and the one thing you can count on for this tree is great fall foliage. If you have a small yard like me, These trees are the way to go! I am so happy my little Crimson Queen Japanese Maple has leaves again! It was fried in the sun when construction started on my house.

My little fried Japanese Maple came back to life with beautiful red leaves!

My little fried Japanese Maple came back to life with beautiful red leaves!

Other trees and plants to consider for a great fall show:

  • Monkshood — beautiful, showy blooms, but a very poisonous plant. I am looking into purchasing one of these if I can find it!
  • Oak-leafed Hydrangea — the hydrangea is a beautiful plant to begin with, but add some beautiful leaves that turn a bright orange during the fall, and you have showstopper as part of your “yard-scape”.
  • Japanese Anemone/Fall-Blooming Anemones — it may take a year or two for these plants to get established, but when they do, it will be worth it! They love part sun and will become a 12-inch ground cover.
  • Sugar Maple — These big shade trees have the most beautiful colors.

Don’t Forget:

  • Goldenrod– you aren’t allergic to this. You are allergic to the ragweed that happens to come out at this time, but does not flower.
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Sneezeweed
  • Sedum— I have the Autumn Joy Sedum and the unique texture of this adds a different element to your garden.

There are many more fall blooming plants out there that I have listed, or don’t even know exist, but what every single one of them will do for you is bring you great joy right up to winter!

“Tree”t Your Landscape

It’s August, people!! I hope you are having a great summer! I can’t complain– we have done a lot of stuff this summer, but my family still has a few things to check off the list before I can officially call it a completely fun-filled summer.

Garden wise, I have been watering like crazy. We had 90+ degree temps (32 Celsius) last week, and everything was withering under the hot, oppressive sun. We still haven’t received any real rain, other than the big thunderstorm that came through my neck of the woods on Saturday.

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I have been quite busy with all the stuff that’s happening with our house. As I have mentioned in past posts, we are getting some major remodeling done, and unfortunately, my flower beds have taken a toll. With the house being re-sided, ladders and lots of feet had pretty much trampled down my front garden beds, leaving me very sad. I know, however that this was bound to happen, and I know that next year everything will come back even bigger and stronger!

Well, my beds out back of my garage have taken the biggest hit. So, I quickly moved everything over to the other side of my yard and extended my flower beds once again. I actually like that I have moved everything, and it looks as though my dwarf burning bush is doing much better in its new location than the previous one.

Here it is, my quick emergency bed to save everything from getting trampled!

Here it is, my quick emergency bed to save everything from getting trampled!

I have since done some work on it to make it look prettier, but as usual, I have a long way to go. After surveying my back yard landscape, I knew I needed to add something to it besides just flowers, plants, and shrubs. It was an absolute “tree”t to see that there were a lot of great trees on sale at my local nurseries right now. I have since bought three!

  • To keep your landscape interesting, think about adding some trees to the picture. Keep in mind the size of your yard, and there is a tree out there for every landscape, from postage stamp size to major acreage!
My little yard.

My little yard.

  • When looking for some trees to put in your yard, try to find some different varieties that you don’t often see. For example, if you have a larger yard, get a beautiful tulip tree, or a variety of maple that isn’t as common. For small yards like mine, you can pick from a large list of Japanese maples, or other ornamental or dwarf size trees.
  • Location is key. Make sure wherever you plant your tree, you have given it room to grow. Or, maybe you want some privacy in your yard, so you will plant it to accommodate this.

I am now filling in the rest of my yard with a few trees that get about 8-10ft tall.

What are they you ask?

Japanese Maples — 50% off right now at your local nurseries. I purchased a Crimson Queen (that unfortunately was put into the hot sun during the beginning phases of our home remodel, and the leaves dried up to a crisp). PLEASE DO NOT JUDGE ME. I am trying really hard to bring this little guy back, and it’s working, his regular leaves are coming back. They are reddish/green laceleaves– so intricate and beautiful!

Crimson Queen Laceleaf, a little fried.

Crimson Queen Laceleaf, a little fried.

The other tree I purchased was a Ryusen Weeping Japanese Maple. The tree, as I am told,  is a very rare weeping Japanese Maple that grows much faster compared to most other varieties of this tree. It averages about 10ft. high, but can grow as high as 20ft. It looks like a waterfall when fully grown.

Ryusen Weeping Japanese Maple

Ryusen Weeping Japanese Maple

I really love “weeping” plants and trees. They are so different, yet dramatic and graceful. Another “weeping” specimen I purchased was this Weeping Norway Spruce. They get to about 8 ft. tall. Just perfect for my yard.

Weeping Norway Spruce

Weeping Norway Spruce

There are many different trees to choose from, take your time and research some that are perfect for your part of the world. Adding trees to your flower beds makes your garden more well-rounded and lovely!