Trees

Red Rocket Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Red Rocket’) — Narrow, columnar shape—8’spread x 30’ height. Fiery red fall foliage.

Pacific Sunset Maple (Hybrid of Acer truncatum, a maple native to northern China, and Acer platanoides or Norway maple)  — Compact, relatively small hardwood tree. Good fall color.

Goldspur Amur Chokecherry (Prunus maackii ‘Jefspur’) — Hardy tree for small spaces—10-15’ height x 8’ spread. White flowers in spring, golden, exfoliating bark, tiny black fruit in summer.

Shrubs

Little Devil Ninebark (Physocarphus poulifolium ‘Little Devil’) — One of the smallest ninebarks, 3-4’, so requires no pruning. Reddish-purple foliage. Whitish-pink flowers in June.

Superstar Spirea (Spiraea x bumalda ‘Denistar’) — Smaller & more compact than Froebels spirea—2.5’x 3.5’. Deep green foliage with red new growth. Deep pink blossoms all summer. Bronze fall leaves.

Setting Sun Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) — Unusual peach-colored flowers with a dark peach-red eye. Compact—2’ height x 3’ spread.

All the Rage Shrub Rose — Easy Elegance Series, Coral buds opening to apricot blossoms. Blooms all summer. Disease resistant. Pleasing, round shape—2.5-4’ height.

Valley Cushion Mugho Pine (Pinus mugho mugus) — Smaller than the commonly sold dwarf mugho pine–only 2-3’ wide. Hardy.

Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs

Ozark Beauty Strawberry — Everbearing, deep red, firm berries, ‘just right’ sweetness.

Organiks — One of our biggest bedding plant suppliers is offering a new line of organically grown herbs and vegetables grown in organic soils, using organic fertilizers, and 100% eco-friendly, recylable pots! Perfect for those of us trying to become more earth-friendly.

Perennials

We will have many new perennials but here are a couple of the best new perennials for 2013:

Variegated Solomons Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’) — Awarded the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year! Greenish-white flowers in early summer and variegated (green and white) foliage. This hardy perennial is fragrant and needs a shady spot.

Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) — Two new compact (20”) Heleniums: ‘Fuego’ and ‘Salsa’ will form a mass of color in the late summer and early fall garden. Salsa is bright red Fuego flowers are orange and golden.

Annual Flowers

Again lots of beautiful, new annuals, but here are two worth noting:

Lemon Slice Superbells (Calibrachoa) — Bicolor white and bright yellow striped flowers for growing in pots or hanging baskets.

Blue a Fuse Petunia — Bicolor petunia with blue and white stripes. Trailing compact habit for containers or hanging baskets.

by Jan Cashman 5/27/12

Physocarpus capitatusRose FamilyNinebarks (genus Physocarpus) are easy–to-grow, woody shrubs that have increased in popularity over the last few years.   One reason for ninebark’s increased popularity is their stunning leaf colors on graceful, arching branches and great new, compact varieties.

Pacific Ninebark Leaves - 5857061566_5ef5e3ac96_o

Ninebark gets its name because its exfoliating bark is said to peel off in nine layers.  This interesting bark makes it a noteworthy shrub even in the winter when the leaves are off.

Another plus for ninebarks is their extreme hardiness (many to USDA hardiness Zone 2) and tolerance of adverse conditions.  Ninebarks are not fussy about soil type; they will grow in alkaline clay soil with a high pH or soils with a lower pH.  They can withstand cold and heat and will grow in full sun or partial shade.  They are extremely drought tolerant but can withstand wet soils.  However, ninebarks have been known to get powdery mildew and they are not deer resistant.

Varieties:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADiabolo

Diabolo (sometimes called Diablo) is a large (8-10’) shrub with red-purple leaves and light pinkish-white flowers that contrast nicely against the foliage.  Its size can be controlled by cutting it back to the ground each spring.  Use Diabolo as a substitute for Purple Leaf Plum for a reliable purple-leafed plant.

Center Glow

Center Glow ninebark, developed in Minnesota, with 8 to 10 feet mature height, is much like Diabolo except the leaves are a brighter red and the new foliage emerges a glowing yellow-green.  To achieve its best leaf color, plant Center Glow Ninebark in full sun.  Leaves turn red and yellow in the fall.

Summer Wine Ninebark - 8120196970_33d0d36974_oSummer Wine

Summer Wine is a more compact version of Diabolo ninebark with the same wine-colored leaves.  It grows to only 5-6’ and seldom needs pruning.  Summer Wine Ninebark has the same delicate, pinkish-white flowers in mid-summer and purple to red leaves in the fall.

Dart’s Gold

Compact Dart’s Gold ninebark has bright yellow foliage—plant one next to a Summer Wine for a great contrast.  Zone 2 hardy—it grows to only 4-5’ with white flowers and red fruit.

Coppertina

Coppertina is a new tall (8 feet) but narrow hybrid combination of Dart’s Gold and Diabolo Ninebarks.  Coppertina’s  leaves emerge an attractive copper color in the spring, transforming to a rich red in the summer.  As with the other ninebarks, soft pink flowers appear in mid-summer.

Mallow Ninebark

Mallow Ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceous) is a native ninebark which grows to about six feet in height.  It is found in west and central Montana and other mountain areas east of the Cascades growing in dry canyons and rocky hillsides and in Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests.  Native ninebarks are found here in the Bozeman Pass, Trail Creek, and Bear Canyon areas.  Three to six foot in height, this native variety of ninebark spreads from suckers.    Its green leaves turn brownish-red in the fall.

Ninebark has stunning leaf colors, year-round interest, and toughness in dry conditions and poor soil, and no serious insect or disease problems.  You can’t go wrong planting ninebark shrubs!

Care and Planting

Plant the graft (the bulge near the union of root and top) at soil level. Leave a depression around the tree for a watering well. Frequent watering (once or twice a week depending upon conditions) is necessary the first few years and during any dry period, thereafter, to establish a healthy tree. Cultivating around the tree and a regular fertilizing program will encourage flowering.

Diseases And Pests

Trees must be protected in the winter from Voles and Mice by wrapping up to the bottom branch with screen or some material through which rodents cannot penetrate. Repellants or fences are needed in areas where Deer might be a problem. The trunks should be wrapped to protect from Sunscald which can blister and split the bark in the winter.

Fireblight

is a bacterial disease that attacks flowering crabapples and others in this family. It affects young twigs first, traveling down the shoot. The bark may look watery, dark green, or oily, and eventually splits. Leaves on affected twigs die, but hang on. Fireblight is spread by insect pollinators and wind. It is seen more often after wet springs. To control, plant resistant varieties. If infected, prune out infected branches. Sterilize pruners between cuts to avoid spreading the disease. Trees can be sprayed with streptomycin sulfate to avoid infection. Spray first just before blossoms open and then continue every three days. Do not spray after fruit has formed. Spraying will not cure fireblight, but may prevent its spread.

Cedar Apple Rust

is a fungal disease that needs both cedars (upright junipers) and apple trees to complete its life cycle. The fungus forms galls on cedar trees, but it does the most damage to apple trees, forming yellow spots on the leaves and fruit and causing early leaf drop. If possible, do not plant apple trees within 100′ of upright junipers. Control cedar apple rust by spraying with a fungicide such as Fung-onil or Daconil just before the blossoms open, again when the blossom petals are falling, and twice more up to the middle of June.

Scab

is a fungal disease that forms olive-brown velvety spots on leaves and young fruits. To control, remove and destroy leaf and fruit debris in the fall. In the spring, spray with a fungicide such as Fung-onil or Daconil.

 

flowering crabtrees table

 

by Jan Cashman

People driving by in August ask us about the showy shrub planted on the northeast corner of our house full of huge, round, white flowers.  It is an Annabelle Hydrangea.  There are many species of hydrangea, all native to China, Japan, and Korea.  This late-summer blooming shrub does best planted in partial shade.  Ours is on the shady side of our house under a mature flowering crab apple.  An east exposure with some morning sun would be a good location for a hydrangea.  They prefer acid soil, so, to keep their leaves from yellowing, amend your soil with peat moss and a soil acidifier and use a fertilizer for acid-loving plants such as Miracid.

Smooth Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas of the species arborescens, common name Smooth Hydrangea, grow to 3 to 4 feet in height and a spread of 4 to 5 feet.   Annabelle hydrangea’s (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) deep green foliage contrasts with its pure white blossoms.  From when the buds appear, until well into fall when the huge blossoms, some as big as 9” across, turn a light, sage-green color, this shrub is spectacular.   Until recently, hydrangea from the species arborescens had only white flowers.  A new selection called ‘Incrediball’ is supposed to have more and bigger blossoms, but the flowers are white like Annabelle.  This year ‘Bella Anna’ Hydrangea was introduced with purple-pink flowers!  We planted a Bella Anna this summer to see how it does; it is listed as USDA Hardiness Zone 3, so it should be as hardy and easy to grow as Annabelle.  These two new varieties of Hydrangea arborescens are bred to have stronger stems that don’t droop when the flowers get wet and heavy.

Mop Head Hydrangeas

Macrophylla, another species of Hydrangea, are listed as hardiness zone 4, but don’t always thrive here.  Also called ‘Mop Head’ macrophyllas are 3 to 4 feet in height and 4 to 5 feet in width, similar in size to Hydrangea arborescens.  The new, much-touted ‘Endless Summer’ Hydrangea is supposed to bloom all summer with pink or blue blooms.  We have a few customers growing them successfully here.  ‘Blushing Bride’ (white flowers) and ‘Twist and Shout’ (pink or blue flowers with red fall leaf color) are two new macrophylla introductions.

PeeGee and Oak Leaf Hydrangeas

Hydrangea paniculata (Zone 4 hardiness) is an upright plant, growing to 8 feet in the right climate.  Its white flowers are smaller and more conical, turning pink-bronze late in the summer.  Unlike other hydrangeas, most of the paniculatas bloom on last year’s wood like lilacs do, so cutting them back will hinder next year’s flowers.  Again, many new H. paniculatas have been bred for flower color, size, and abundance.  Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea) is Hardiness Zone 5, so probably not a good choice for our climate.

Climbing Hydrangea Hydrangea anomala, subspecies petiolaris, is a Zone 5 climbing vine. Although beautiful, it is doubtful climbing hydrangeas will survive here because they don’t like our dry heat and our winter temperature extremes could cause them to freeze back.  The colorful hydrangeas sold as gifts by florists around Easter won’t overwinter when planted outside here.

Hydrangea flowers are great for drying, but if picked too early in the summer, the flowers will shrivel up.  Wait to pick the blossoms until fall approaches and they have turned from white to pale green.  Most hydrangeas’ leaves are not colorful in the fall—they turn brown and wilt after a couple of frosts.  Probably because it is planted so close to our front door, deer don’t bother our hydrangea until they get really hungry in the early winter, when they ‘prune it back’ for us.  You should protect your hydrangeas if you have deer around.

It’s not too late to plant a hydrangea this fall–or wait until spring.   Find a shady east or north exposure in your yard, and enjoy this beautiful shrub.

By Jan Cashman

Besides expressing your individuality, there is good reason to plant different kinds of shade trees in your yard, on your block, and in your city.  Even on your boulevard, it might be a good idea to plant trees different from the varieties your neighbors have planted.   If one variety is overplanted, an insect or disease could attack it and that tree population would be wiped out.  Dutch elm disease was one of those diseases, killing most of the elms commonly planted as boulevard trees in the Midwest.  In Bozeman a few years ago, the majority of fall gold black ash trees were killed by an aphid-like insect called cottony psyllid.

Here are five good trees that, although you’ve probably heard of all of them, are less commonly planted in Bozeman’s boulevards and yards.   All five will grow well here and are susceptible to few insects and diseases:

Bur Oak 
(Quercus macrocarpa)

Majestic oaks are the granddaddy of trees.  Bur oak, an oak native to North Dakota and eastern Montana, tolerates drought and poor soil conditions and is the best oak for our area.  Oak’s slow growth, hard wood, and long life, makes it a tree that is planted, not only for now, but for the next generations.

Bur oaks can get a small gall on their branches caused by a wasp.    At first glance, these galls can be mistaken for acorns.  They are noticeable only in the winter when the tree does not have leaves and may weaken the branch but do not kill the oak.

Tatarian Maple 
(Acer tataricum)

This hardy maple is more tolerant of alkaline soils than most maples, with an upright growth habit that makes it an attractive, though small, boulevard tree.  A selection of tatarian maple called ‘Hot Wings’ produces bright red samaras in mid-summer (Samaras are the two-sided seed pods that look a bit like small butterfly wings.)  In the fall, tatarian maple’s leaves turn bright yellow and red.

Japanese Tree Lilac
(Syringa reticulata)

Japanese tree lilac, a small tree growing to 20 to 25 feet, is covered with large, creamy white, wonderfully fragrant flowers in early July after other lilacs have finished blooming.   A couple of improved selections of Japanese tree lilac are now on the market—‘Ivory Silk’ is faster growing with a more upright shape.  ‘Snowdance’ has more blooms and is sterile, so produces no seedheads.

Ohio Buckeye
(Aesculus glabra)

In the spring, Ohio buckeye, a tree that grows to 25 to 35 feet, has large, yellow-green flowers; then spiny chestnuts appear in the summer, and its leaves turn yellow to orange to red in the fall.  Even though it is native to far-away Ohio and surrounding states, Ohio buckeye grows well here, tolerating our alkaline soils and temperature extremes.  The name ‘Buckeye’ comes from the nut’s resemblance to a buck deer’s eye.

American Elm
(Ulmus American)

The stately elm will grow to a large (over 60 feet tall) tree useful for a shade tree or a boulevard planting.  Many new selections, resistant to Dutch elm disease, are being released; ‘Princeton’ and ‘Discovery’ are two that show promise.  Elms are fast-growing and tolerant of drought and poor, alkaline soils.  At this time of the year, elms can be plagued by aphids.

Since the severe and sudden freeze in October of 2009, the Gallatin Valley has lost many trees—green ash, quaking aspen, maples, flowering crabapples, and others.  To help keep our city beautiful, the City of Bozeman has issued vouchers to assist homeowners in replacing their boulevard trees.  And they have  issued a new “Tree Guide” with recommendations for trees that include the commonly planted green ash, maples, lindens, and honeylocust plus other, less-commonly used trees such as birch, hackberry, and laurel leaf willow.

Try planting one of our five shade tree favorites or another ‘different’ tree and celebrate “Tree Diversity”.

By Jan Cashman

Why not make your landscape good to eat?  If you are going to give your plants tender loving care, let them give you something in return besides beauty—fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  Whether you are designing a new landscape or remodeling or adding to an existing one, the same design principles apply with edible plants and non-edibles.  Of course, all the plants in your landscape don’t have to be edible.  Mix in fruiting trees and shrubs and vegetables and herbs wherever they will fit and look good.  Here are some ways to use edible plants in your landscape:

Trees

Although tiny crabapples attract birds, apple trees with full- sized apples can give your family fruit to eat.  All apple trees are beautiful when in flower, but there are a few which are more floriferous and also have better fruit.  The umbrella shape of the small hazen apple tree, is stunning in the spring, when it produces thousands of pinkish-white blossoms.   Hazen’s tasty apples mature around Labor Day.   Hardy chestnut crab apples, another favorite of mine, produce lots of pure white blossoms which mature into small apples with an interesting, delicious flavor.  Plant semi-dwarf apple trees in small yards—they are easier to pick, whatever the size of your yard.

Apricot trees have an abundance of beautiful white blossoms early in the spring, before most other trees and shrubs are in bloom.   If apricots blossom too early, the fruit may freeze, but if they don’t freeze, the apricots are delicious.  Plums trees blossom a little later than apricots.  Mount Royal is a small, self-fertile plum tree that produces prune-type fruit, ripening in late fall.  Mount Royal plums are delicious for eating fresh, pies, drying, and jams.

Meteor pie cherry is an attractive dwarf tree that is self-fertile and quite hardy for our area.  In the spring, it is filled with beautiful, pure white blossoms.  Our 30-year-old cherry tree has produced unbelievable crops of tart cherries that make delicious pies and cobblers.  Last year my husband and pie-baker, Jerry, made many cherry pies out of these bright red cherries.

Our large luscious pear tree has glossy deep green leaves and produces small, firm pears, good for desserts and canning.  It is a beautiful tree in its own right, so the fruit is a welcome bonus.

Shrubs

Instead of sterile alpine currant shrubs, plant consort black and red lake currants, or pixwell gooseberries, which all have fruit which is good for jams, jellies, and pies.  Nanking and Western sand cherries make attractive hedges and produce small cherries for preserves—Nanking cherries are sweet enough to eat fresh! 

Two selections of Juneberry, or serviceberry,  ‘Regent’ and ‘Smoky’, are attractive for their white flowers in the spring, dark purple fruit good for jelly, and reddish fall foliage.  These two juneberries would also make a good hedge.  Elderberries, big, fast-growing shrubs, produce a lot of blue-black fruit useful for pies, jam, and wine. 

Don’t forget the delicious and easy-to-grow raspberry, which can be planted against a fence or wall for ornamentation and fruit.

Vines

If you want a vine to decorate the side of your house or to climb a fence, plant a grape.  There are several hardy grape varieties, such as Valiant, that grow easily in our climate.  Grapes need to be planted in a hot, sunny spot in order to get fully ripe.

Ground Covers

Strawberry plants are a natural ground cover as their runners spread.  Or plant mounding cullinary thyme instead of the other ornamental thyme ground covers, which aren’t so tasty.

Perennials

The huge leaves of easy-to-grow rhubarb plants are a focal point planted amidst perennial flowers.   Perennial herbs, like oregano, chives, sage, and tarragon, flower and are ornamental, besides adding flavor to your family’s meals.

Annuals

Mix attractive vegetable plants such as red or green-leafed lettuce or kale in with your annual flowers.   I’ve even seen big vining squash and cucumbers planted to fill in empty spots in flower gardens.  Tuck annual herbs into your flower beds.  In some climates, rosemary is used as a short perennial hedge, but here, rosemary, parsely, and basil are attractive, useful, annual herbs.

Containers

You can grow almost any vegetable or herb in a container.   Tomatoes are commonly grown in containers.   Plastic Earth Boxes work well for tomato and pepper plants because they are watered from the bottom.  But, try pretty ceramic pots filled with vegetables.  A few years ago, we planted vining snap peas in large containers.  We used bamboo stakes tied together with jute twine for them to climb on—they grew well, ripened early, and produced lots of delicious peas.

With an edible landscape, you will be able to grow tasty food better than any you can purchase in the grocery store.  Remember, “An edible landscape is the only form of gardening that truly nurtures all the senses.”

by Jan Cashman

Our winter landscapes are naturally beautiful, with the snow laden branches of evergreens, long tree shadows on the snow on a sunny day, and hoarfrost glistening on branches on a frosty morning.  Certain trees and shrubs are exceptional for their winter beauty and interest.  Here are five of the best:

Upright Evergreens

Blue-toned upright junipers, dark green arborvitae, and tall spruce trees all give us color in our yards amid the whites and grays of winter.  Evergreens are resplendent with branches laden with white snow.  They also provide shelter for our feathered friends like chickadees that don’t go south for the winter.

Cherry Trees

The attractive, orange, exfoliating (peeling) bark of cherry trees and others in the Prunus genus, such as Amur chokecherry, has light-colored lenticels that are more noticeable in the winter when the leaves are off.   In fact, all mature trees have bark with interesting, rough texture, especially Toba hawthorn, whose bark seems to twist around its trunk.

Flowering Crabs

Flowering crabs are not only beautiful in the spring when they bloom.  Their small, red crabapples often hang onto the branches in the winter so they look like they are decorated for Christmas.  These crabapples are a favorite food of birds.  We’ve seen ruffed grouse and cedar waxwings eating the crabapples off our radiant crab in the winter months.  Mountain ash trees and high bush cranberry shrubs also have berries for winter interest and wildlife attraction.

Red Twig Dogwood

Few plants provide as much color in the winter and early spring as the native red twig dogwood.   Both the dwarf form, known as ‘Isanti’, and variegated-leafed ‘Ivory Halo’ dogwoods have these same red twigs.  The red twigs are even more vibrant red in the new, hardy selection called ‘Cardinal’.

Roses

Any shrub rose will have colorful rose hips but tall, hardy glauca rose, also known as ‘red leafed’ rose, provides lots of bright red hips.   We cut rose hips off our glauca rose in the winter for decorating evergreen wreaths, but left on, the hips are beautiful with its violet-colored stems against the snow.

Ornamental grasses, tall perennials like Autumn Joy sedum, oak trees and weeping birch with their unusual shapes, also provide landscape interest in the winter.  Winter gardens don’t have to be drab and lifeless.  With the selection of a few key trees and shrubs, your garden can be even more beautiful in all seasons!

By Jan Cashman

A friend and customer came in our nursery yesterday and announced, “I need some color!”  This last winter was long and snowy.  Spring has been cold and rainy, and slow in arriving.  We’re all sick of the white, brown, and gray tones of winter and ready for color—blue sky, green grass, and colorful flowers!

The colors we use, whether in our landscape design, our home’s interior, clothing, or a painting, create a mood.  Warm, bright colors—red, yellow, orange—advance and are cheerful.  Blues and lavenders recede and are restful.   In our summer landscapes, the green of grass and leaves becomes our background color.  We then add other colors with flowering bulbs, annual and perennial flowers, ornamental grasses, vines, trees and shrubs with flowers and colorful leaves and twigs, and evergreens.

Flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils, available in many colors, provide first color in the spring, but must be planted in the fall.  Don’t forget, next September or October, to plant some colorful bulbs.

It’s easy to create your favorite color scheme with annual flowers that come in a rainbow of colors and bloom all summer.  But, many gardeners are planting perennials instead of annual flowers so they won’t have to replant every year.  This makes sense, but, since most perennial flowers bloom for only a few weeks, plan for perennials that bloom at different times throughout the summer.  Tuck a few colorful annuals like zinnias or petunias into your perennial bed for added color.

May and June are the glory months for colorful, flowering trees and shrubs.  Starting with the pale pink blossoms of the plum family, we move into the stunning flowering crabapples with blossoms from white to pink to almost red in late May.  Then, come the lilacs.  Lilac varieties can give you fragrant blooms for over a month, starting with the early and common lilacs and ending with white Japanese tree lilacs, which bloom here in late June or early July.  Some lilacs have pink (Montaigne) or blue (President Grevy) flowers.  Finally, colorful shrub roses start blooming in June and many continue to bloom all summer.  One favorite is hardy, cherry-pink Winnipeg Parks Rose.

Plants with gold, red, or variegated leaves can add spark to your landscape.  Heuchera (Coral Bells) is a favorite perennial for shade, with leaves ranging from golden yellow to variegated to chocolate brown.  There is a even new bleeding heart with golden leaves.  Succulent, sun-loving sedums, both short and tall varieties, have leaves in colors from gold to gray-green to red.  Some ornamental grasses have golden, variegated, deep red, or bluish leaves.

‘Darts Gold’ ninebark is a popular shrub with yellow leaves; taller ‘Diablo’ ninebark’s leaves are reddish-purple.  One of our best selling trees is Canada red cherry.  Gardeners like this small, hardy tree for its deep burgundy leaves that contrast with green grass; it also has fragrant white flowers in the spring and red chokecherries in the fall.  Many flowering crabs have colorful leaves; radiant crabapple has green leaves tinged with bronze; thunderchild has deep purple leaves.  The bright orange berries of mountain ash are showy in late summer.

Maples and burning bush are only two of the many plants whose leaves become a blaze of color in the fall.  Plants like Autumn brilliance serviceberry, which has white flowers in the spring, followed by showy, purplish-black fruit, and brilliant red-orange fall leaves, provide three seasons of color.   ‘Miss Kim’ is the only lilac whose leaves turn burgundy-red in the fall.  Winter landscapes would be pretty drab without evergreens, so don’t forget them in your landscape planning.  The steel blue of globe blue spruce makes a statement in a shrub bed, summer and winter.

The color of your pottery, or the color of your house, even the color of the mulch you are using, all are part of your landscape’s color scheme.  Terra cotta containers provide a neutral background for flowers.  But be daring and plant a cobalt blue container with contrasting orange flowers!  (Mix in a few blue flowers to echo the color of the container.)  Or paint a shed door or Adirondack chairs bright red, yellow, or blue.   Natural, neutral wood mulches, like shredded cedar and soil pep (ground up bark), blend into the landscape.   Pinkish scoria rock or dark red lava rock mulches can provide colorful accents.

For continuity, repeat colors throughout your landscape and flower beds.  Mix and layer plants with colorful flowers, leaves, and fruit for color in your yard year round!

by Jan Cashman

They often get a bad rap, but junipers deserve a place in our landscapes. Junipers are native to Montana, found from Ekalaka to Troy, Plentywood to Lima. From the sites where they’re found growing native, you know they tolerate drought and poor soils. Junipers’ slow rate of growth makes them a good foundation plant; they prune easily and fit well into our native mountain landscapes. Junipers’ unique texture, range of colors, and blue berries add interest to any landscape. Deer usually avoid junipers.

At least three species in the genus Juniperus are native to Montana. Huge native specimens of horizontalis, a low-growing, prostrate species, are found in Eastern Montana. Some are as big as 30 to 50 feet in diameter. Prince of Wales is a dark green, hardy horizontal juniper selected on the Prince of Wales Ranch in Alberta, Canada, north of Browning, Montana, whose tips turn purple in the winter, a trait that is common with many junipers. In our own yard, we have a Prince of Wales juniper planted that grows gracefully over a three foot retaining wall to the ground below. Blue Chip, another good, low-growing horizontal juniper, keeps its outstanding steel-blue foliage all year.

Common juniper (Juniperus communis), a taller (3 to 4 feet) species of juniper growing in the mountains around Bozeman, is seldom sold for landscape use, although common juniper’s unusual, course, texture is interesting.

Driving west on Interstate 90, just past Butte, you can’t miss the native, upright junipers growing there on either side of the road. These junipers are called Rocky Mountain Juniper, (Juniperus scopulorum ‘Butte Hill Variety’). Popular grafted selections of scopulorums include hardy Medora, originating in the Badlands of North Dakota. Blue-tinged Medora grows to 10 to 12 feet with only a 2 to 3 foot spread. Cologreen juniper is another upright with greener foliage. Not all scopulorums have a pyramidal shape, however. Table Top Blue juniper, an beautiful selection with silvery-blue lacy foliage discovered near Helena by Clayton Berg, a local nurseryman, is tall (5’), but with a flat top and wide spread.

Hardy species not native to Montana include chinensis. Chinensis are taller, spreading, vase-shaped junipers. Fifty years ago, Pfitzer junipers (Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzer’) were planted in practically every landscape in North Dakota and Eastern Montana. Today, new, improved varieties of Juniperus chinensis are sold, such as Mint Julep, selected for its graceful, arching branches and mint-green color.

Another spreading species, sabina, includes the selection, Buffalo, a hardy, low-growing juniper that keeps its deep green color year round. While the centers of some of the old types of junipers often became bare with age, Buffalo retains its foliage in the middle. Few junipers are as hardy as the Savin juniper. This old selection is still planted in spots where hardiness and a bit more height (3-5 feet) are needed.

No plant is completely disease and insect free, including junipers. In a wet June, upright junipers can develop orange globules on the foliage from a fungal disease called Cedar Apple Rust. These unsightly globs don’t kill the plant, but can weaken it. Avoid planting upright junipers close to apple trees, since they are this fungi’s cohost. Tiny spider mites attack upright junipers and, if left unchecked, can weaken or kill the plant. Hard-to-control voles eat the bark of junipers in the winter.

The many species of junipers provide different shapes, textures, colors, and uses in our landscapes –screening, ground cover, bird habitat. Junipers don’t require any special care. They grow well in full sun with minimal water. Upright varieties keep their neat, pyramidal shape by pruning them in June. Spreading junipers look more natural left unpruned.

Besides junipers’ landscape uses, their hard, fragrant wood is used for unusual furniture pieces, lamps, and fence posts. Juniper berries are used to flavor gin. Whether you plant only natives in your yard, or just want an interesting, water-wise landscape, you can’t go wrong with junipers.

 

by Jan Cashman

It’s fun to watch birds out your window, especially in the winter.   If you provide adequate food, shelter, and water for them, you can attract a wide variety of birds to your yard.  Many species of birds are found in Bozeman and the surrounding area.  Sparrows, finches, chickadees, cedar waxwings, grosbeaks, even Hungarian partridge, ruffed grouse and pheasants are some we have seen in our yard.  Here are a few ways to attract more birds to your yard in the winter—and summer, too:

Food

A bird feeder filled with oiled sunflower seeds will attract finches and chickadees.  We once added thistle seed to our feeder, but found that the birds dropped some seed which emerged into thistles next spring.  ‘Nyjer’ is an imported nutritious substitute for thistle seed, higher in calories and oil, and heat sterilized to prevent germination.   Suet, hung near your bird feeder, is also a good source of heat and energy for birds in the winter.

It is better to buy individual kinds of bird seed rather than a mix; the birds will just toss the seeds they don’t like in the mix on the ground.

Provide bird food at different levels to appeal to different kinds of birds.  Bird seed doesn’t have to be in a bird feeder.  We sprinkle seed on our deck rail; and on the ground for pheasants, grouse, and partridge.

Plants for the Birds

Besides buying food for your bird feeders, plant trees and shrubs that produce seeds and fruit.  Native plants provide food and shelter that the birds are accustomed to.   Serviceberry, dogwood, silver buffaloberry, skunkbrush sumac, wild rose, alder, Douglas hawthorn, chokecherry, snowberry, yellow currant, and junipers are all native plants that will make the birds feel at home.

Flowers with abundant seeds, both annual and perennial, like sunflowers and purple coneflower, will attract birds.  Don’t be too quick to dead-head flowers that are done blooming; let them go to seed.

Small, fruit-bearing trees, such as mountain ash, flowering crabs, Russian olive, alder, and hawthorn, provide good food and nesting habitat for your feathered friends.   A flock of cedar waxwings or grosbeaks will swoop into a mountain ash tree in the winter and eat every berry.  Many of the newer varieties of flowering crabs have fruit which is ‘persistant’, in other words, the fruit hangs on the tree until eaten by the birds; it does not drop on the ground and make a mess.

Large shrubs like serviceberry, high bush cranberry, arrowwood viburnum, buffaloberry, Nanking cherry, cotoneaster, and honeysuckle, provide food for birds.  Avoid severe pruning of these shrubs—the birds will like them better if you let them grow tall and natural.  Currants and gooseberries are smaller shrubs with good fruit for birds (if you don’t use their fruit yourself).    Shrub roses are great for birds, providing protection and edible rose hips.

Both Virginia creeper and dropmore scarlet honeysuckle are vines that produce fruit for the birds, plus their tangled vines can provide hiding and nesting places.

Shelter

While bluebirds need a nesting box, most birds just need shelter from the elements and a place to hide.  Evergreen trees provide good shelter both winter and summer.   The large, old Techny arborvitaes surrounding our deck provide wonderful shelter for shy chickadees.  Spruce and upright junipers also make good shelter.  Tall shade trees provide a necessary canopy for the birds in the summer.  Maples and birch trees have the added bonus of seeds.

An impeccably manicured yard with lots of mowed grass is not the ideal landscape for birds.  Birds prefer a wild, natural environment.  An unmowed field of wildflowers and native grasses can provide food and cover for many birds.  Dead trees left standing and brush piles may not be beautiful to our eyes, but they can provide nesting places, food, and cover.  If you live in the country, you may want to leave your yard a little rough around the edges for the birds.

Water

Birds need water—they especially like running water.  Heaters can be purchased for bird baths in the winter, providing necessary shallow water access.  Always keep your bird bath filled with water.  A pond, big or small, located near protective cover, gives the large birds someplace to go.  Ducks might stay all winter if your pond has open water.

Provide food for the birds, plants that give them shelter, and a water source, and you will have birds of all kinds in your yard—this winter, and next spring, summer and fall.