Saturday, May 16, 2015

Butterfly Properties Garden Tour!

Marilyn and I have been garden coaches in Missoula since about 2009 (Butterfly Properties).  Garden coaching is just what it sounds like: helping people identify garden goals and then helping them achieve those goals in a step-wise strategy.

Our favorite part about garden coaching is seeing how excited people get by transforming their yards from something generic to something beautiful that suits their personal vision and needs. It is inspirational to see! And now we want to share the inspiration with you, via the Inaugural Butterfly Properties Native Plant Garden Tour!

Four of our clients agreed to open their yards for the tour. We think that if you live in western Montana and are interested in native plant gardening for beauty, personal enjoyment, wildlife habitat and resource reduction, you will enjoy seeing these projects. You’ll probably get some ideas and meet some new friends. 

JOIN US!  Click here to RSVP on the Facebook event, or contact us by email by clicking here.

Inaugural Butterfly Properties Client Native Plant Garden Tour!

Date:  Sunday, June 28, 12-4 pm

Location: Begin and end at Butterfly Properties World Headquarters, 1750 South 8th Street
West, between Catlin and Garfield on 8th Street

Tour Description:

Join us as we tour four of our clients’ gardens: gardens envisioned and created by people just like you. Each garden is different: different stages of maturity, different goals, and different site considerations. But what do they have in common? Using native plants to create personal, beautiful spaces for people and wildlife to share.

We’ll meet at our house to hand out maps, meet each other and set up carpooling options. We’ll visit each garden as a group, and hear from the gardeners.  We hope this tour will become a regular event. It is an opportunity to get ideas, inspiration, and motivation and to meet like-minded gardeners.

We will conclude with a social and a recap form at our garden. We will probably have some native plants to give away, too.

Tentative Schedule:

12:00 Meet at 1750 S. 8th St. W. (Butterfly Properties World Headquarters) for map and carpooling

12:45- 1:15 “Downtown Secret Sanctuary”

1:30- 2:00 “Fun Family Space Garden”

2:15- 2:45 “Natural Playground and Family Compound”

3:00-3:30 “Bury the Evidence”

3:30- Social at Butterfly Properties World Headquarters!

Garden Descriptions

12:45- 1:15 Downtown Secret Sanctuary
Our Front Street yard is our sanctuary in the making, a secret garden in the downtown area. For years it was a blank canvas for which we had no vision. Its evolution has been equal parts planned (thanks to Butterfly Properties) and organic creativity. The yard has some unique features that we have tried to use to the best advantage of the garden and which help make it a fun place to explore. There’s a steep hill with a shady grove at the bottom, a sunny ledge near the house, and some structural elements we’ve tried to connect to the garden. We’ve incorporated pathways, dog friendly spots, vegetables, and low-water areas.We are excited to be a part of the Butterfly Properties garden tour, to share our progress and see the cool ways people are designing their yards.

1:30- 2:00 Fun Family Spaces

A year ago we were stuck on what to do with our large, flat, square backyard that contained a small deck, eight huge vegetable planters and far too much weedy, dry lawn. We had almost no gardening experience, and the little we had was in a tiny yard in England.  We wanted to use the space for outdoor eating, for kids to plan and explore, to relax with a book or chat with friends on warm evenings. We also wanted to reduce the time and water inputs required to maintain the vast lawn. Since we met with Marilyn and David last summer, we've planned out spaces for eating, playing, lying in the hammock and socializing. We've removed half the lawn; laid what feels like acres of weed matting and mulch; planted some initial shrubs; built a small sandbox and added a climbing structure; and, most recently, dug a large hole and turned the dirt into a hill. We're very much “in-progress,” but the space has already been transformed – there’s increasing variety and plenty more to come. One real benefit of making drastic changes like removing 1200 sq ft of grass and moving 10 yards of dirt is that it definitely makes the prospect of further changes seem quite manageable.

2:15-2:45 Natural Playground and Family Compound

Our "garden" is actually our entire lot, and now expanding into Lisa's mom's backyard next door. We have a food and cut flower garden and some native plant beds out front but most of our energy and time is spent in our back yard right now. We began working on our landscape plan in 2008! We were initially looking to add some interesting landscape design and start experimenting with natives. At first, we worried if we were keeping enough lawn for our needs, but now we are always thinking about which sections of sod to remove next. The biggest challenge for us is always removing sod--that first sod cutter experience was a marriage test! But with each year we are inspired to keep the project going. Our yard is used for many things including privacy in an urban setting, family gathering space, growing some food, and creating wildlife habitat. Lisa is exploring how the yard can become a testing ground for preschool playground ideas. We want to have a back yard that draws our kids outside and can keep them busy in imaginary play for hours where they can run back and forth between our house and Grandma's.

3:00- 3:30 Bury the Evidence

We wanted a beautiful but low maintenance front yard that let us focus energy on vegetable gardening instead of lawn care. It makes me happy to work in the garden, and it makes me even happier when the garden returns the favor with food. I love vegetable gardening and this is my first stab at working with natives. We started our garden project last June with a visit from David and Marilyn. Their enthusiasm threw us into several weeks of sod cutting, rolling, and Craigslisting. That was followed by mounding loads and load of soil (including our entire compost pile, accidentally stealing rocks from our neighbor, and a deep well I was conveniently digging for our egress window). The project culminated with my mom flying in from Detroit to help me plant all our fresh starts, only to break both of her legs the night we completed the work. We decided that would be a good point to wrap things up for the season.  Our favorite thing about the garden is the mounds David suggested. Not only do they make the neighbors think that we're a little off, but they look really cool with snow on them in the winter when you can't see all the plant babies. Countless neighbors and bike commuters have gone by and made a crack about what we're hiding under the mounds. A mother-in-law? The last person who asked? Cats? You name it.  Removing the sod was ridiculously hard work, but David's method worked like a charm. Not one blade of grass has sprung up. This season we are finding out who survived the winter, learning to identify the native plants, and probably filling in with some new additions.

Finale: Social at the Butterfly Properties World Headquarters

Our garden goals are to use only Missoula area native plants to create places for wildlife and for us. We also think it is important to only water what we eat. Our yard is arranged into a series of rooms- laundry, cooking, dining, potting, and more.