I’ve done it! I have taken the big leap and arrived at our new home in Dixon MT., a small town in easy reach of Missoula on the Clark Fork River. Missoula is one of “America’s 10 Best River Towns” in the south-west of Montana. Getting here was an adventure. It was challenging not being used to snow on the road. As well as contending with carrying our belongings into the home by trudging them through the snow.
The snow has melted away, and looking out of my window into the barren trees onto the Flathead River I’m enjoying the play of sun and shadows on the hills across the river, and the snow-capped peaks of the Mission Mountains in the distance. I hope that the mild weather will hold as long as possible and I can begin getting a feel for our new property and the lay of our hilly terrain.
What brought me here is my family. But also the beauty of Montana’s open plains, valleys, and the emerald green waters of the Clark Fork River that merges with the Flathead River a few miles away. There are so many creeks, rivers, and lakes here that it would take me another lifetime to see them all. Add to this the excitement over discovering a new plant palette and the desire to master the challenges of gardening in the Rockies.
I look forward to designing gardens that survive the winters here and the deer and gophers and squirrels. One question in particular in on my mind when I look at gardens: How do you design a garden that holds its visual interested even under several inches of snow?
Naturalistic Plantings in Private and Public Spaces
In Missoula, I’ve noticed a distinct appreciation for naturalistic plantings in private gardens and in public and commercial spaces. The plantings at my local grocery store, in particular, caught my eye by their use of boulders, comfortable stepping stone paths, water-wise perennials, woody plants, and ornamental grasses. The whole has a very relaxed, naturalistic feeling, and from its designer that I enjoyed talking to, “Lavender Lori” Parr, I learned that she designed the planter beds with the goal of creating a sustainable, long-lived and satisfying plant scene to reflect the store’s policies. (Lori grows various hardy Lavenders and makes various products with its oils.)
As I’m looking around to see what other local designers are doing, I talked to Will Grant of Grant Landscape & Design of Missoula. His use, too, of indigenous plants, his stated preference of water-conserving plants and his way of incorporating local stone and rocks in pleasing ways impressed me. Both Lori’s and Will’s supportive and easy sharing of their experiences enforced what I learned in Southern California: Gardeners everywhere love their work so much that they are willing to share secrets and experience and always support those who want to know…
Gardening and Sustainable Design
So I invite you to follow my next blog posts. I’ll share what I have learned about gardening and sustainable design in Western Montana. I’m naturally excited to see which tricks are employed to keep a landscape interesting even under several inches of snow! I will share with you what I learn here.
To my readers in Southern California, I’ll continue to offer consultations and plant lists, and visits on site if requested. (Keep an eye on my notifications to catch me when my video conferencing is set up.)
For my new gardening friends in Montana, now working in such a different environment, my “eyeball” is still good. I bring my design passion and experience that brought me awards in Southern California. I look forward to working with you and to helping you articulate your ideas. In addition to interpreting them and transforming them into reality. And to make you feel what this client of mine wrote. “Every day I am thrilled to open the front gate and walk through the first garden you designed. Sometimes it is late afternoon and the light is glorious in the garden.”
Thank you so much for your continued reading of my posts From Montana. I appreciate this support and hope you’ll follow me on this new adventure.
I wish you the very best for the new year and a festive holiday season.