Help with choosing plants, lots of space

norwoodnApril 6, 2014

Hello, this is my first time posting on this forum and I came because I need some recommendations on choosing which perennials to plant on our 2 acre spread.
We live in Montana, a warmer area, zone 4. We have apples and pear already, but I need some plants that don't especially attract pests! Like deer and antelope are the main ones, they like to chew on fallen apples.

Many thanks!!
I'm open to anything really.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
laceyvail(6A, WV)

Two acres is a LOT of area to cover. I would think you would want to start with trees, shrubs and only then begin to establish some perennial beds close to the house.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You'd be well advised to plant what grows native or has naturalized well in your area & treat it as a reclamation project on 2 acres if its in need of clearing out undesirables or if it just needs visual interest, either way its a good way to manage a large area. Start studying what is indigenous to MT, there are many lovely specimens which would naturalize creating a self maintaining landscape in the long run, it is also good stewardship of the land.

As far as landscaping around the house, the question is too general & could lead to endless suggestions based on many individual people's taste, location or goals. It might be easier to start looking at some MT pictures online & established landscapes in your area for ideas of what you yourself like. A long list of plants would be confusing but looking at combinations of local plantings you find appealing would probably be more practical. If you then have a question about specific plants you are considering, people could respond with their experience growing them.

As laceyville suggested, start with trees & shrubs to establish some bones to define areas. There are lists online you can refer to for deer resistant plants which may help to narrow down your selections but that won't do anything about animals eating fallen apples. In other words, deer resistant plants will not repel animals. Fallen apples sound like a good benefit for wildlife to me, eating plants is another matter.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

duplicate post

This post was edited by TexasRanger10 on Mon, Apr 7, 14 at 18:20

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Plants with strongly scented foliage like salvias, monarda, or herbs are good. Furry/hairy foliage plants like Lychnis coronaria(Rose Campion) or Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ears) are good too. Deer seem to be like kids they like mild tasting, no weird texture plants. Of course if they get hungry enough, they could eat anything. Oh which reminds me, poisonous plants or plants with nasty sap are good too.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 10:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think reading is part of gardening and the first thing I think of is one of my all-time favorite books: Claude A. Barr, "Jewels of the Plains: Wild Flowers of the Great Plains Grasslands and Hills" - now out of print. It is sort of in list format but wonderful reading (to me at least) for all that.

If it were me, I would also investigate Sally and Andy Wasowski's "Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes". Their first books were about Texas gardening and they have since branched out to other regions. Everyone could learn from some of their principles, even if they don't live in the West or Midwest.

However, Montana apparently presents some singular problems of hard soil and cold climate -- so one should probably look first at the Montana State University Extensions's Master Gardener Handbook. At $50.00 it is expensive, so one could seek it out in a library or second hand -- but heeding its advice could save a lot more money in the long run.

There are also several other books specifically about Montana that look promising, these include: Bob and Cheryl Gough's "The Montana Gardener's Companion: An Insider's Guide to Gardening under the Big Sky"; John Cretti, Month-By-Month Gardening in Montana; and Marcia Tatroe and Charles Mannand, "Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West". Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: List of resources for Montana gardening

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 1:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

monarda, a friend of mine sent me 'Native Texas Plants Landscaping Region by Region' by Sally & Andy Wasowski. I just about have it memorized. I am going to check for the book you mentioned.

The advice given is direct & practical with beautiful, natural results. Its the best way to approach any large area, or smaller ones for that matter. Montana would be the perfect place for their principles. Here in the west, there are so many really well behaved & attractive natives that offer excellent landscape choices.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 2:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, Texas Ranger, I have "Native Texas Plants" in a handy place where I can refer to it -- even living in Brooklyn! And I have given copies away to Texas and California relatives. I love that book.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 4:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
babera(5a (Montana))

A warm Montana welcome from a fellow Montanan. . . where abouts are you? I'm in Billings, but did live in the beautiful western part. There we had 2 acres in the country and LOTS of wild life. I was a brand new gardener then and no internet so I learned to roll with the punches from deer and wildlife.

I did as suggested above, left the major part in its natural state, just cleared and thinned to make it look tended to. I also transplanted sapplings (mostly birch as it was plentiful) I learned the hard way that deer love trees, especially new trees. I out smarted them (after 2 seasons) and just planted trees that were growing in the wild. . . it worked, they were over 20' tall when I left. If you don't have the luxury of wooded land near by (your property) I strongly recommend fencing (5') around new trees until they are out of deer reach.

One of the things I found most effective in the flower beds was bar soap. My parents had a resort there so I got the used small bars and just laid them on the ground. The good thing about the soap is it keeps working even after the rain and watering.

Believe it or not, they don't like rogosa roses either. They never bothered mine anyway.

Even though I had the room and well water, I never did a veg garden. . . I knew I wouldn't win that battle against the critters.

Surf around, spend lots of time here, theres a ton of info here and other forums. Determine your wish list/vision of a finished yard and work towards it. I started mine by asking everyone I knew to toss me the things they were thinning out of their beds. . . it was a fast way to get started. . .and to learn as you go. . . good luck and have fun. . .

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For Texas Ranger, here is a review of Barr's The Jewels of the Plains. Barr was a classics major, wild flower lover, and amateur botanist (naturalist) who decided to become a cattle rancher in South Dakota, (If I understand correctly the book's cartographer and publisher accidentally identified the Black Hills as being in North Dakota instead of South Dakota), who developed an interest in identifying, propagating, and writing about native plants.
I supposed Barr's classical education was one reason he wrote so well, but in fact he was born in 1887 (two years before my grandfather) when most college grads studied classics. He was just a very enterprising and unusual guy. The book was published posthumously after Barr's death in 1982 at the age of 95 and is still of great interest to gardeners, botanists, and wild flower enthusiasts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Review of Jewels of the Plains by Claude Barr

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 12:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Do a search (near the bottom of the perennials forum page) for karin_mt who often posts here and includes photos of her garden. You'll get some good ideas there.

The thread below has photos if you scroll down.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden tour is coming

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What an incredible garden --, complete with kinetic sculpture and cat! Beautiful! The colors are magical -- like stained glass.

I also found an inspiring photo of columbines from the Montana Native Plant Society on the website Blackfoot Native Plants, dating from two years ago.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 12:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karin_mt(4 MT)

Thanks for the props NHbabs! I re-read that thread and all the drama of the garden tour, phew. Makes me glad it's still wintry here and not quite time to get back out there quite yet.

Welcome Norwoodn! Montana has tons to offer for gardeners. Every region has its challenges but the tradeoff is that we get to live in awesome Montana, right?

You've gotten great advice and the links that Monarda posted contain some of my go-to sources. I use the info from MSU extension frequently. Deer are so persistent (we don't have antelope except for one isolated visit) and everyone has their own approach in gardening with them. Ornamental plants are not so hard because there are many options that the deer don't eat. I have over 50 roses and they nibble on them but don't destroy them. Tulips are not worth the effort, and the late summer/fall vegetable garden becomes a real battle. For us, those are the two biggest challenges.

I can offer plenty of specific suggestions if you want - just let us know in more detail what type of space you are trying to create. If you are near Bozeman I also always have divisions to share.

But for now, the yard is all white again this morning. Back to skiing!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 9:09AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Troubles with new Campanula Carpatica (Blue Clips)
I will start by saying that I am a pretty new gardener....
campanula confusion!
I have a question, everyone! I've always eyed campanulas...
diggerdee zone 6 CT
Elk in Dogs for mrtulin
The link is in here scroll down and have fun. Some...
Patty W. zone 5a Illinois
What plant are you anxiously awaiting the return of in the spring?
Well, maybe not *anxiously* awaiting but awaiting nevertheless. For...
mxk3 last! Snowdrops!
I was just looking out the living room window, wondering...
woodyoak zone 5 Canada
Sponsored Products
Victorian Oil Rubbed Bronze 10-inch Raindrop Showerhead
Cardinal Nature Hook
Signature Hardware
Great Plains Rug 8' x 10' - CREAM
$2,589.00 | Horchow
Sterling 62050115 39.375W x 73.25H in. ADA Swirl Gloss Shower Module - 62050115-
Cactus Round Up Kit
$8.99 | zulily
Upton Home Prentice Glass-top End Table
Fleur-De-Lis Rug 9' x 13' - BLACK/WHITE/IVORY
$3,299.00 | Horchow
Aiden 3-Shelf Console
Cost Plus World Market
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™