The former Stedman foundry took a lot of work to restore it to its natural state, but five years ago a team of community volunteers began the first phase of its restoration project. Today, it is home to the Montana Certified Landscape Conservancy and is being recertified for use as a public park and community center.
The aim is to show visitors that even small gardens can make a big difference to pollinators. This natural extension of nature provides an opportunity to illustrate how visitors can support pollinators and other wildlife in their native gardens.
To learn more about the demonstration garden, read the Montana Wild Plant List, certified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture, for a detailed list of the plants available in Montana. This includes information on growing conditions, plant species and the plants in show gardens.
The Montana WILD Center hosts hundreds of school groups and citizens each year who enjoy participating in exhibits, learning and activities. At the Rendezvous of Schoolyard Habitats, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, teachers in six Montana communities are learning how to incorporate native plants into landscapes to create outdoor learning opportunities that improve their students.
Sue Leferink of Helena Garden Club offers guided tours of certified schoolyard habitats at Schooner Habitat's rendezvous in Helena.
Sue had no experience of redesigning a public landscape from scratch, but she had great resources from the Montana Native Plant Society. She turned to FWP education coordinator Thomas Baumeister and asked whether such a form was possible. A garden with native plants to educate visitors has been created to show that a garden with xeriscape can provide educational opportunities, be beautiful and feed animals.
The club was inspired to the project after attending the annual meeting of the Montana Native Plant Society in Missoula, Montana. We attended the event to learn how to meet the needs of our members, as well as those of other residents and the public.
Tizers told club member Sue Leferink that the FWP was moving its training centre to a new location in Helena and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to create a garden. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre runs an adjacent building and, as Sue noted, the garden is a perfect place to raise the next generation.