By Amy Grisak/MONTANA LIVING — Take time in the summer to enjoy our beautiful Montana gardens. Here's a list of special tours throughout the season, or gardens open to the public on a regular basis. Grab your good walking shoes and a water bottle, and make a point to see the gardens in full glory. (Unless otherwise noted, please leave your pets at home.)
During the turn of the century, the city of Great Falls designed and planned for gardens at Gibson Park, where people could gather and enjoy the area. Now visitors can stroll, bike, or skate along the walkways to view the incredible flower gardens filled with thousands of annuals.
Gibson Park has seen many changes over the last 100 years, and is in the process of major renovations. To keep with the historical precedent, more perennials are being added to the gardens, plus a rose garden was established in 2003.
Another addition to the flower garden area is the "Vinegar Jones Cabin," the first house granted a building permit in the City of Great Falls in the 1884. After surviving fire and potential demolition for over a century, it was saved in 2001 and moved to the park where it is being used as a display.
Visitors are invited to enjoy Gibson Park, located on Park Drive between Central Avenue and 6th Street, seven days a week from dawn until dusk. There is no admission, although the park is available to rent for weddings and large gatherings. Please keep your pets on a leash.
For more information contact the Great Falls Park and Recreation Department at 771-1265.
SUPPORT THE GARDEN
Join the supporters of the Paris Gibson Square Museum's annual "Gardenwalk" fundraising event for the museum on June 25-26. Six local homeowners are going all out once again inviting visitors into their gardens, acting as host and guide, and answering questions. Participants purchase their maps at the Paris Gibson Square Museum, located at 1400 1st Ave. North, on Friday, and are encouraged to walk the Museum's grounds, which are maturing into their own show, to begin the tour. The hours are Friday 5p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone 727-8255.
For over 15 years the Bibler Garden Tours in spring and summer have been the highly anticipated home and garden lover's gathering and a key fund-raiser for the Conrad Mansion.
Enthusiasts from throughout the state can expect the same entertaining tours of Bibler's history-filled home and spectacular gardens, as well as exciting new features in the gardens this season. Dates and cost will be announced towards the end of April and middle of July.
Tickets can be purchased at the Conrad Mansion. Phone 755-2126.
The talented artists from the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center join avid gardeners to celebrate the glorious summer in the village on Flathead Lake for the 16th annual garden tour on July 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Art and Cultural Center fund-raiser opens four to six private gardens within a five-mile radius of Bigfork for self-guided tours while artists take the opportunity to capture the summer bloom in paints and pastels. Swan River Nursery helps coordinate the effort and offers a gift certificate in a raffle, with the proceeds contributed to the Art and Cultural Center.
The ticket that serves as a map, are $8 for members of the Art Center, $10 for non-members and free for children under 12, can be purchased at the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center at 525 Electric Ave. or Swan River Nursery at 715 Swan River Rd.
For more information contact the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center at 837-6927.
In 1946 the first rose was planted in the little city park at 700 Brooks Street to commemorate the soldiers who gave their lives in World War II.
Visitors now enjoy over 2,500 rose bushes in the Memorial Rose Gardens created for all of the Montana state veterans. A 12-foot bronze statue for fallen police officers has recently been added to the display.
Caras Nursery is hosting their third annual garden tour during the second weekend in July.
Six to eight gardens, including the grounds at Caras Nursery will be available for self-guided tours. A range of gardening styles will be selected to make it an educational and enjoyable day. The tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Caras Nursery or locations throughout the area. The tour begins at 10 a.m., and everyone is invited to a reception with food and drinks at the end of the tour at Caras Nursery at 2727 South Third Street.
Bring the youngsters to the third annual "Kids in the Garden" at the beautiful grounds of the Daly Mansion on Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
The event is geared to promote interest in the gardening and the outdoors while having a great time. A number of activities are planned to give the kids a hands-on experience with lots of goodies to take home. There will be musicians, storytellers, performances and informative speakers to entertain the children as well as adults.
Admission is free, just bring your imagination and enthusiasm. The Daly Mansion is outside of Hamilton on Montana Highway 269. For more information contact Karla Wienciek at 961-0107 or the Daly Mansion at 363-6004.