Going Native: Native and other plants for Carbon County

Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, July 25, 2019
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Photos by Eleanor Guerrero
A range of textures, colors and shapes is part of any good garden. Here Dr. Jennifer Lyman let the wild buttercups run riot.

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Water features and wildflowers add great interest to a

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Wildflowers (right) compete in beauty with dramatic displays of high lupines.

It was a sunny day on Thursday, July 18, when members of the All Nations Garden Club pulled onto the property of Wildflower Weddings just between Red Lodge and Roberts. Members Terri Kelleher and Jeri Kyner were the hostesses for the event. Members were not there to garden but to observe the existing plants and hear the expertise of Dr. Jennifer Lyman. Lyman serves as gardener and is a retired professor of plant ecology who taught 28 years at Rocky Mountain College in Billings.

Lyman was as equally interested in the group and welcomed their expertise in how to find more amenable plants for the 5 acre parcel that can host many types of gatherings from weddings to family reunions in its spacious grounds and large brightly illuminated modern barn.  

Lyman took the group around the grounds showing them various displays of seasonal plants she had created. She said she was still looking for the “Wow!” factor and asked for suggestions of colors or textures to add. She suggested gardeners tune in to British master gardener Monty Don and his “Gardener’s World” on Netflix. 

The experienced gardeners of the group were happy to contribute ideas. “Foxglove is real splashy,” said Garden Club President, Betsy Scanlon. The group expressed surprise at an almost hot orange version of pansy. 

“It started out as a hayfield,” she said to everyone’s surprise. The family business added full sodding to cover the existing terrain making use of the natural water present to create a full lush carpet of green. Among the huge lawn, Lyman noted many features included a series of vertical ponds and striking waterfalls. A bear is enjoying the top pond this summer.

She started at the entrance with Shastas, blanket flowers, bee balms (Lamiacea, a member of the mint family), thyme and grape hyacinth (Muscari), all were growing well. In fact, the thyme had to be kept from taking over. Sedum and Hosta and Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) served as ground cover. Tall hardy blue geraniums waved their bright blue and lavender colors. Lamium or “Dead Nettle” showed silvery leaves and pretty little pink flowers giving both show and cover. Yellow asters showed their big impressive blooms.
Moving on, big stands of blooming purple catnip and bachelor buttons lent striking streaks of color and budding hollyhocks had yet to fulfill their promise. 

Lyman admitted keeping the colors going all summer long with different times of blooming flora “was challenging.” Gardeners shared their frustrations. One said, “Deer ate my Delphiniums for the first time in fifteen years!” 

Touring the ponds, an abundance of forget-me-nots, yellow clover, chickweed and dominating strands of buttercups created a fairy like effect on the waterways.  Lyman observed the yellow clover was running rampant and had not been planted but it nevertheless gave a shocking bolt of yellow color to the greenscape. 

Rounding and coming down from the elevated ponds a meadow with a huge center of large spikes of pink lupine presented a dramatic appearance. The nearby field of horses seemed to compete with a riot of wild forget-me-nots, daisys and chickweed. Peonies and roses were suggested to round off the colors and give variety to the centerpiece.

On the way circling back to the barn, Lyman noted that a recently planted stand of hot pink Spyria was adapting well to streamside. This tour the gardeners seemed to give as well as they got and were rewarded with fresh fruit and snacks in the cool of the tall barn. 

Lyman gave a series of wildflower walks for the Roosevelt School STEM project earlier this summer that she said were very well attended. The tours explored East Side road, Palisades Trail, Willow Creek and along the Beartooth Plateau.