Monday, May 9, 2016


Often it's best to listen to one's elders.
Especially after they've survived their
share of challenging central Montanan
winters. Hence we've been wandering
the surrounding neighborhoods to see
proof of the survival of the fittest. It's
amazing how certain flowers, plants,
and shrubs triumph against ALL odds.
Whether that's due to years of neglect
by their owners or over exposure to the
elements. Slowly we've developed our
short list of old fashioned favorites as
we plan our gardens. Here's just a few!
Throughout Lewistown and it's outer
environs the oldest and most hardy
survivors are often lilacs. Against all
odds they thrive wherever planted. As
one drives about the countryside, you
can see the surviving remnants of old
homesteads long gone. Usually that's
a couple of cottonwood trees and an
errant stand of lilacs. Once established
they hold their own long after humans
have exited the premises. Thus we've
planned our garden around two existing
deep dark specimens who've see it all.
Known as bridal wreath, cascades of
springtime white can be seen near old
homes in the area. Once their blossoms
fade, they continue to do their duty as
a large and leafy shrub. Fortunately
they've got it made in the shade. And
so we're planting them along the side
adjacent to one of the busier streets in
town. Hopefully their foliage buffers
some of the noise and dust so that we
can keep our windows open during the
summer. Mixed with a few evergreens
we hope they'll live happily ever after!
Who doesn't love these fragrant beauties!
While late bloomers in these here parts,
peonies obviously thrive no matter what.
We've selected an old fashioned coral hue
to place in the bed across the front of the
house. Mixed with the same toned shrub
roses, they'll line the front of our restored
front stoop. Both adding a pop of color
from beginning to end of our short but
sweet warm months. Fairly maintenance
free, we spied several of these beauties in
the local cemetery where Mother Nature
can be deadly. I bet they outlive us all!
What could be more old fashioned than
Hydrangeas? However when I moved to
the Chicago area,  they were no where
to be seen. Fortunately some brave soul
developed a variety that thrives well into
zone three. "Limelight" features lovely
white/green blossoms that dry to rust or
pink tones. For several seasons we've
watched a neighbor's hedge grow ever
more healthy. Hence a bevy of these
beauties will stand behind the peonies
and roses. Ending with a row of hardy
American Boxwood as their backdrop.
Houses of our vintage always sported
a vine or two. Elsewhere home owners
struggle to keep kudzu and wisteria at
bay. However in this climate it seems
that such climbers are usually few and
far between. However a classic favorite,
Virginia Creeper obviously thrives under
our challenging circumstances. Thus we
hope to train two across the breezeway
overhang adjacent to our garage. Having
a few hangers on just feels right for this
house. And hopefully they'll be berry
happy there for a hundred years or so!
Of course there are several other local
survivors to choose from yet few hold
any allure. Therefore like it or not we'll
attempt to introduce a few favorites who
hail from other climes. Whether they'll
survive is questionable. Our hope is that
if we put them in the right place at the
right time a miracle might happen on 8th
Avenue. So once the walls are up and the
planting beds are tilled, keep watch for
some out of towners who hopefully will
be willing and able to adapt to our clime.
If at first you can't succeed try, try again!