Wednesday, May 9, 2018


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 plant our garden. 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 our 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 I wanted to plant them along the
side of our house. However Frank had
a different plan. Last fall he planted
Rhododendrons - a shrub that has not
traditionally been grown in Montana.
After the worst winter in years they
are thriving. So... no spirea for us!
Who doesn't love these fragrant beauties!
While late bloomers in these here parts,
peonies obviously thrive no matter what.
We've planted an old fashioned coral hue
in the bed across the front of the house.
Mixed with the same toned shrub roses,
they line the front of our restored front
stoop. Both adding a pop of color from
beginning to end of our short but sweet
spring and summer. 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
boxwood hedging our bets!
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 just didn't appeal. So
we've planted some hops along the wall
in the hope that it will grow big enough
to hop over. Hopefully it will soften
said hard line of delineation. And also
cover up the view of our neighbor's
demo derby car parked on the median.
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. When we planted
our White Wisteria - we wondered if it
would survive. Fortunately we put them
in the right place at the right time and a
miracle happened on 8th Avenue. They
survived the winter and are full of buds.
Inspiring us to plant more out of towners
who will hopefully adapt to our clime. If
at first you can't succeed try, try again!