Kielian DeWitt shows proof that gardeners are indeed lovely people!
“On August 8 of 2015, Ravalli County in western Montana celebrated its first annual “Bitterroot Secret Garden Tour”. I was honored to have my garden chosen as one of five gardens highlighted on the tour. Tickets were sold out within hours (I believe that is because everyone is truly a gardener at heart) with all ticket sales benefitting the local animal shelter. It’s success was such that another tour boasting five new gardens is scheduled for this summer to support another charity: SAFE (Supporters of Abuse Free Environments). Visit Bitterroot Secret Garden Tour for more information.
Montana gardeners brave tough conditions in an effort to encourage their gardens to grow. We’re a riverine, alpine valley whose gardens can enjoy swirling microclimates a zone warmer than our designated zone 4. (Although, we were recently redesignated as a zone 5, I still plan and design for zone 4).”
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Kiellian: Wow. I love the very different looks amongst the various beds. They complement each other so well, and look perfect for what I what expect a garden in Montana to look like. My favorite picture is the phlox and Veronica combination. I love the tall phlox and have many varieties. Great summer performers.
Love the front garden. I live in a suburban development, and have also removed grass from all but a 4 foot path in my front yard. My wife has rebelled a bit, and had me promise to keep all the front yard plants under 4 feet (except 1 Japanese Maple) so it wouldn't obstruct the view of the house. I would love to plant the front like you did. Great job.
You have done a great job for zone 4. Sometimes I complain about my zone 6b, but never again. You have done so much within your zone limits.
The patio is beautiful. I am always amazed how plants can grow in those itty bitty spaces between the pavers. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for your kind words, Kevin. Most of these gardens contain those hardy, fail-safe varieties that react generously to the Montana climate. Phlox is one of my favorites of the super-hardies...sweetly scented, colorful and forgiving.
We are of the same mind on front-yard flower riots. If I had my way, I'd have another acre of flowers in the front. Thanks again for your comments. They made me beam!
I am sitting here barefoot because your garden (as always) just blew my socks off. The Coreopsis and Veronica photo is my favorite but I do love them all. The front yard "riot", the "boneyard" ,,, you have created such a delicious space.
You and Michaele always choose the best words! Delicious.... I like it!
What a vibrant and happy flow of plants. My husband loves the even pattern of plant, space and mulch, I prefer the riotous cottage garden. As the previous reviewer stated his wife wanted to see the house, so we compromised. We enjoy your garden in the back with an ever changing color palette and the more restrained in the front. Gardeners are wonderful folks, we love the earth, air and soil and are ever ready to share. Just as you have shared the fruits of your labors with us, thanks. Spring is near, the overflow of plant catalogs a welcome sight.
You are, indeed, a member of the gardening flock. I enjoyed your 'definition' of gardeners....so very true.
There is such beauty and artistic challenge in orderly compositions. I have a deep respect for those designs, but the wild and rampant has my heart, probably because it mimics my thought patterns.....here, there and everywhere! It sounds as though you've created the perfect compromise between the front and back gardens. Hmmmm, that would be an interesting comparison to share with GPOD...
Isn't it a fun and companionable activity to pore over those gardening catalogues in the midst of winter, knowing that tens of thousands of fellow gardeners are doing the same?
Gardeners are wonder-full people. Our gardens give us such wonder as well as making us more appreciative and caring. The charity idea as a way to share all that is wonderful in itself and worthy of much copying. Your lush garden is also full of wonder. Thanks for sharing your vision.
Thank you so much. You've tied it all together - wonder-fully!!
Your gardens are beautiful & full of plants that grow in zone 7.Every garden area is beautiful on it's own & blends in so well with your home that is also outstanding. You are right about gardeners being friendly ( this site for example) & probably more so in Montana where everyone seems to be friendly. Thank you for this post & good luck this spring, Joe
When I first moved to Montana, I remember walking down main street and everyone, literally everyone, had a smile to share as I passed. I started to think that my shirt was unbuttoned, or some such faux pas, but I'm convinced it was only good cheer
Thank you for sharing your comments and for your kind praise. I have enjoyed your photos on GPOD and look forward to seeing more. Good luck with your gardening this year too.
Love your post; your gardens are amazing! So inviting; so much to see~ and appreciate. The phlox and veronica together is stunning. Your "front yard riot" is GREAT! And ... your home looks beautiful. Wonderful idea to benefit the animal shelter with the garden tour! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Margaret. Your generous praise is making this wintry day shine for me
Wow, Kielian so much beauty. You must feel intoxicated from all that flower power. The colors are so rich. You suffer the cold but I bet you have good soil. I too plan for zone 6 not zone 7 from the new map. I love your use of dwarf conifers in the border. What is your boneyard garden? Your woodlawn garden looks suspiciously sunny from the plants there. Oh the sunshine in Montana is glorious. Great concept for fundraising. Did you meet some fellow gardeners you didn't know?
We were so fortunate to find a farm that lies in an ancient river bed where most ot the soil is dark and rich and looks clumps of chocolate cake. There are plenty of 'fingers' of gravel and rock, and I've had to forego planting for a softer site, but overall, I think I'm in nirvana
The boneyard garden is where aggressive plants, prolific reseeders, bullies or plants that can't seem to decide if they want to survive go. It is one of my favorite gardens as I just let everything compete and Mother Nature determines, placement. I marvel every year at who takes over, who compromises and who establishes his own little fiefdom
About the woodland garden: you are absolutely correct. It should be renamed the Garden-in-Front-of-the-Woodland (GFW)
I did meet a lot of gardeners I'd never known and some new friendships were established. Sort of like on GPOD. Thanks for your comments!
Such unexpected Montana gardens! Quite the show!
You can tell a gardener has that extra magic touch when petunia seedlings pop up on their own within inhospitable cracks and join the party of riotous color. I now have my new garden mission thanks to you, Kielian...plant a companion clematis to existing ones so they have each other to give compliments to. I adore your paver walkway and suspect I would never make it to the front door to ring the bell. The only thing that would make me give up wandering about all your stellar garden beds would be the complete darkness of a moonless night. Your gardens make Montana look like heaven on earth.
Hey Mikey! Your word-painting is glorious! I always search, with anticipation, for your postings as you know how to craft words into such visual delights. Thank you for your comments and insight...always
I laugh at those delicate, little petunia seedlings that push and shove their way into existence. One of the hybrids boasted a bright, almost neon, pink-salmon color. I thought about trying to collect the seeds and capitalize on it. If it happened, I'd need your word-smithing to name it!
Those petunia seedlings growing in the cracks sure got me too!
Good morning Kielian. What a glorious space you've created for yourself. You know that I'm all about shapes and texture; I love the mounding forms punctuated by verticals through your space. Coreopsis and veronica aren't my favorites, but you have me reconsidering. The veronica with the phlox is a beautiful combination. You comment on my work on Facebook and now I can comment on yours... turn about fair play. Garden on, my friend!
Good Morning Jay. Ahhh, I'm basking in the comment-glow of my garden/artist/designer friend. It's been such a joy to get to know you on Facebook, view your talented creations and ponder your fascinating gardening philosophies
I frequently think that my wild-side gardens need a bit of your design restraint and elegance. Who knows, as the gardens mature and evolve, I may start to incorporate some peaceful zen areas, or a contemplative Japanese garden. I'll certainly know who to go to for direction and counseling
Jay, I really enjoyed the article of your redesign of the Charlotte, NC home garden in 'Country Gardens' magazine. The front gardens are stunning! and right out to the curb, beautiful. The before and after photos are great, kudos to you Jay
Absolutely stunning garden. I've just made a note to look for Tigereyes Staghorn Sumac and I can only hope that the trio of clematis I planted together last summer ends up looking as beautiful and carefree like yours one day. Thank you for sharing all the beauty! Vikki in VA.
Beware of Tiger Eyes. Gorgeous, but as it gets established, it will send out runners like any other Sumac. If you don't mind the maintenance or have the space, it is awesomely beautiful. I just took mine out of a container in which it lived for two years and put it in our easement where its wandering ways can be contained.
Thank you Tim, good stuff to know. Vikki in VA
Tim is absolutely correct. I'm frequently digging up the pervasive sumac runners that have made many a gardener friend dubiously happy. My saving grace is that the sumac is located in an area with considerable flagstone and selective light.
Oooh, I like the idea of adding a third clematis. You've added a dimensional element that I intend to copy. Thanks for the idea and for your comments and praise. My smile will last for a week!
Agree with your statements about Tiger Eyes. We planted it in WI because we thought it didn't spread. To tell the truth, we loved it's sunny color in the garden so much that we put up with it's roving ways. We'd plant it out here in WA but have too many four footed plant predators:(
Such a profusion of colour and growth! Just lovely. That front garden is a show stopper, but my eye was drawn to the chain and barrel water catchment. Not your typical plastic system.....very nice.
Thank you so much. We had a local hardware store put their wine barrels on sale, years ago, and we bought quite a few. After punching a hole near the base and installing a faucet, we can hook up the hose and use efficiently. My mantra is function and form...I want it too be beautifully useful.
Thanks again for your comments, quiltingmama!
I can see why you were on the tour. Stunning.
Thanks Dale. The other 4 gardens on the tour were fabulous. We heard over and over how surprised the tour attendees were that such extensive gardens existed in this small community
Hi Kielian! Oh how beautiful are your gardens! Your contrasts of textures and colors are so fun. Isn't it a great idea to have a garden tour. They did that in oregon for funding schools. Well you sure must have a lot of fun in the sun while gardening! You have created a wonderland oaisis! Thanks for sharing with us who couldn't make the tour!
Hi Jeanne. Thank you! These wild-child gardens keep me happy. During the tour, I felt that they actually had an important purpose (as opposed to being a major source of summer entertainment for me) as they raised money for a good cause. It was a gratifying payback.
I appreciate your comment and thoughts!
So many flowers!! You've done an amazing job! My favorite pics are the clematis and the Veronica with the coreopsis...absolutely stunning! Thank you for sharing your gardens. :)
Thanks Karen. I think those two are my favorite pairings also.
Kielian, you're killing me. I don't think I've ever seen so many different views at once here of your fabulous estate. Your FG print article was pretty focused, too. Just stunning. That first photo drew me like a moth to a flame. You've just given everyone garden fever.
Those self-sown petunias are crazy cool. It's great that you left them there instead of yanking them up to keep the patio tidy. I'd struggle with it, but the side of me that doesn't want to kill a garden plant can sometimes win over my obsessive-compulsive side. Brava.
Hi Tim. Ha! You've hit on a sensitive topic that my husband worries about extensively. Ten years ago, when we purchased the property, he said, "well, at least you can't landscape 66 acres." Last year, he gave me a concerned look and said, "You're trying, aren't you?"
It is sometimes difficult to leave those intrepid petunias in the pavers. I often tenderly pull out the ones in the middle of the most used patio path and plop them in pots (can one overdo alliteration?). It soothes the fear that raises its ugly head in the middle of the night....."OMG - I can't just let it die!" Yes, gardeners are a kind sort of folk!
You're another of my favorite commenters on GPOD. Your delightful comments always bring cheer and humor to the blog. I'd enjoy sitting down with you, Jeff, Mikey, Cherry, Jeanne, Tia, Chris, May (I know I've left out many, but my memory isn't all that good...all of you are included!) and just laughing at the witty repartee. Hmmmm, someday I predict a big ole GPOD party; a meeting of some of the finest gardening minds and creative thinkers on any blog.
Thanks, as always, Tim, for your fun comments and thoughts
As much as I bemoan the frustrating fact that the internet lets one form friendships with people whose face you may never see in person, it is such a great way to find a community of people who share enthusiasm for a common interest. All the best to you and your 2016 gardening challenges and accomplishments.
One of the reasons I tell myself to quit starting seeds (although I can't seem to keep any resolve) is that if I get good germination, where am I going to put all of those seedlings in my tiny yard? Thin the seedlings and let them die? That's hard to do. This year I've begun to grimace and tell myself they are mercy-killings.......
Swoon!!! I will always love your garden Kielian. Beautiful like you!
Ahh Cherry. You are so sweet! I enjoy your spirit, energy, and enthusiasm. Thank you!
gardens are a part of what keeps me sane: lovely smelling dirt, fresh air, birdies, worms and beauty.
No truer words were spoken
Kielian, your photos are stunning! You have captured perfect shots of your amazing garden at just the right moments. Ah, such a happy riot of wonderful plants!
Thanks GrannyMay. I appreciate the comments of such a fine gardener! Yours in dirt.
If you could see my smile right now, you'd see a wide grin like the Cheshire Cat grinning back at you. Thank you, Diane!
What a wonderful riot of colour and joy! I can see why you were on the garden tours. I love the whole cottage garden feel and your choice of plants and colours is amazing. An artists palette.
Basking in your praise, Catherine. Thank you
I need to get busy with my chores today, but I can't stop looking (and relooking) at all the beautiful photos of your garden! In addition to all the wonderful plant choices, I especially love the dark red trim color of your house. I noticed the hollyhock in photo two appears to be a perfect match. I am experimenting with clematis combination plantings this year and hope mine are as lovely as yours. Thank you for your gardening inspiration!
I am so taken with the type of gardener-obsession you mention. I read your first sentence and thought about how often I, and probably most of the other readers, have neglected work, chores, appointments and conversations with their spouse to look at the glorious garden photos sent in on a daily basis. It seems such a healthy obsession!
Thank you for your comments and thoughts. It's so much fun to read about what others see, those things that have become everyday and not appreciated until brought to the fore-front by another. You've an eye for detail, without a doubt!
Truly an inspiring feast for the eyes. Just what I needed on this cold winter day.
When I was a youngster, I lived with my aunt in Arizona for a couple years. The polite friendliness you describe is, I think, a Western thing. I remember walking down the street with her and cowboys passing by would smile, tip their hat and say good morning Ma'am. Coming from the east coast I was stunned. Also by the way the kids in school would stand when addressed by the teacher. As for your gardens - simply stunning! So lush and happy. When the climate gives them the chance to do their thing, they GO for it! You have done a wonderful job. Enjoy.
There does seem to be a 'western cordial culture'. Sounds like it was a good few years in Arizona....a nice view of a different 'slice of life'
Thanks for your thoughts and comments, Shirley. I agree that cold climates tend to push plants to be a bit boisterous during their reprieve from snow and cold. They know they have only so long to get their work done. Ha! This reminds me of conversations with my grandmother who used to comment about plants like people. She assured me that flowers were girls and vegetables were boys. Her pronouns reflected as much: to her snapdragons: "Look at her, she's blooming her heart out". To her squash: "oh, look at that boisterous boy, he's just trying to take over the garden". Ha!
Kielian, what a wonderful surprise to see your gardens this morning on GPOD. Each bed makes me so happy... whether it's wild and crazy or somewhat orderly, I adore them all! I have to admit though, that like Jay, phlox and veronica aren't typically my go to plants but dang, Girl, that combo of color, shape and texture is freakin' amazing! All I can say is... I'm going to be stealing ideas from these photos when I'm adjusting my own gardens this spring!
Ahhh Sheila, my Dirty Girl Friend! Thank you so much for your comments. I am so pleased to hear your thoughts and love your 'freakin' amazing' comment...that was a giggler. I just wish I had some heads to disperse around the gardens. I did find the broken bust of a pothead which stands proudly by the herb garden. A pretty décolletage with lavender sprouting out of her depths. Ha!
Yours in the macabre!
OK, I can't help myself...I just have to make a return visit to say...I am so enjoying Kielian's responses to the comments and the very authentic warmth of her words that embraces each of us in a special cyber hug. I know that she is brightening each person's day and setting off a chain reaction of smiles and nods of mutual validation and appreciation. I love the relaxed conversations that are sparked as we share and affirm our mutual addiction. Thank you, GPOD, for giving us our very own "safe space".
Thanks meander. I love your prose and blush at your praise. You are a delight!
And you bring up an incredibly important point. The folks at Fine Gardening have created such a wonderful venue for us gardeners to share, espouse about and learn from. Thanks, Susan, for managing, encouraging, supporting and recognizing us gardeners, novice, experienced and professional, to do our best and share our visions. You are a professional, in all of the best definitions of the word.
Agreed wow! There is no wonder why your garden was selected. Love, love, love the fullness of the beds. Can't stop looking at them. And your twining clematis has inspired me for a post in my garden. Thanks for sharing! Gorgeous!
Thanks Lori...your comments are grand and make me want to go outside right now to improve the beds. No wait, it's dark and cold....but wait a month and I'll fulfill that quest
Just WILL NOT let the sun set on this day without telling you how much I enjoy gardens Kielian! It's no wonder they attracted so many g-lovers. And, I'm sure the birds, butterfly and bees thank you too. Just beautiful!
Thank you Terie. I have long admired your posts to GPOD and thank you again for your kind words.
Nirvana indeed ! 66 acres would truly be incredible and Kielian you have done such a beautiful job of planting so much and yet keeping it all so natural looking. On my very small 1/3 acre here, I am constantly searching for another square inch of dirt to plant - not much luck though. What a wonderful garden tour that must have been and you meet so many nice people that come to see everything you have done. I know how you must have enjoyed the day and I'm sure you will be on the tour again. Have a great Spring Kielian.
Doesn't the juxtaposition of not quite enough garden space to plant everything you love and too much acreage to really landscape properly make you smile. I think about all the areas that are ignored on the farm and agonize about their improvement. We both lose sleep over different issues but for the same reason. We love to design and love our gardens!
Thank you for your comments and sweet spring gardening to you!
What a delightful excuse for avoiding my to-do pile on the counter next to me! I can only imagine how gratifying it is to sit on the patio on a summer day, enjoying the vista and knowing that you did this. You. did. this.
Also, yay for red trim!!
Vive le rouge!
Thanks Tia. Our labor of love absorbs us, but oh the happiness that accompanies! We are similar souls, we want to do it right!
What a beautiful garden you have. It is full of bright colors. I'm particularly fond of the tigereyes staghorn sumac. That lime color really pops!
Yes, that chartreuse is a wonderfully neutral backdrop and a peaceful place for the eye to rest. Thanks for your comments
What a joyful inviting garden, Kielian! Bursting with color, wonderful contrasts of shapes, delightful combinations. I'd love to meander through it. Makes me so hungry to get out and garden again! Thanks for brightening the day!
Can spring come soon enough? Thanks for your comments, Jane. I appreciate your response and enjoy those descriptive words. 'Bursting, joyful, inviting, delightful'..... I'm aglow!
Kielian, thank you so much for the private garden tour. Your flowers are enviable, especially the Coeopsis with the Veronica, two of my favorite colors in the garden. It looks like you live in a paradise that must be fenced since you have many beautiful plants that would be devoured in our yard:) Everything about your garden is appealing, right down to the patio. You must be anxious to see all of this again yourself.
Hi Linda, thanks for your comments...It's difficult to improve upon yellow and blue...the French have it right.
Actually, none of the garden is fenced. I use a product called Plant Skydd that works beautifully. It's dried pigs blood (eeeeew) that you mix with water and spray on plant leaves. It smells horrid and woe be to those who get it on their skin as its almost as bad as skunk mercaptans, but it works like a dream. I spray about every month around the garden perimeter and on especially delectable treats (petunias, nasturtiums, roses, lilies,viburnum, dogwood) and it wards off deer like a spell. It lasts through rains and sprinklers for 3-4 weeks, longer if it's dry. I swear by it as it has the added benefit of training deer to just stay away from the Garden.
Yes, I can hardly wait for spring. I guess impatience is a good gardener description!
Ohhh, so charmingly beautiful! What a breath-taking mix you have created. And YES, twist your husband's arm and go for that additional acre of flowers out front. Wouldn't that be a feast for the eyes?
Your Veronica is amazingly intense. Do you know the cultivar? I grew some pale ones once, but they could only have been named Insipid they were so washed out. Yours are vibrant and an unforgettable accent.
Also amazing as everyone has said, are those persistent petunias. I'd read somewhere that letting the Wave (maybe?) petunias go to seed would create some interesting new varieties. Is that what happened? It seems in my garden as well that cracks in stone and brick paths are perfect "greenhouses" for volunteers to grow.
I have to go look at it all your photos again and take notes. So wonderful!
Kielian - I read below that you have kept deer at bay with liquid Plantskydd. Do you use the ready mix or concentrate? Do you apply with a hose-end sprayer? Have you tried the granules? I apologize for asking so many questions, but here in NW Arkansas we have more than our fair share of deer so I am most interested in following up on any product that works. Thank you.
Stunning … front yard riot doing it for me… The whole package !!!! Making me crazy for spring…..So grateful for your having shared with us !!!! Truly a beautiful garden. How long have you been creating this Beauty ?
Kielian, thanks for sharing your gorgeous yards again. Congratulations on the success of the garden tour. I went to the site you referenced and enjoyed the stories of the other participating gardeners - 80 years of vegetable gardening is truly impressive! I would also like to know the variety of veronica you have. I garden in a much smaller space but I would love to have a large cutting garden and a boneyard garden to grow the "boisterous" plants. I get volunteers in the cracks in between patio blocks too; columbine (they come up in new colors too), heuchera, lots of gloriosa daisies, and dandelions but they aren't welcome. Again thanks, I enjoy your riots of color. Cj
What a beautiful garden you have!!!
You have a wonderful perennial jungle to roam around in and spend many hours enjoying all the colors and variety of plants. I love your color pairing schemes. You have arranged all your plants so wonderfully to show them off their best. You must have a lot of birds and butterflies thanking you for the abundance of nectar and seeds.
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