Take a walk through the woods, in the mountains or along the banks of the rivers and streams in Montana and you will see flowers and plants from large trees to small meadow flowers that are native to the state. These same flowers are commercially available for the home gardener who wants to create a natural Montana garden.
Subalpine fir, Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt., is a tree that grows from 30 to 50 feet tall, which is tall enough to be a shade tree in a small yard. The plant produces blue-green needles and upright, purple-colored pine cones. Deer, elk, bighorn sheep and moose will eat the bark right off the tree. Plant subalpine fir in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in a moist to dry, gravelly or sandy loam soil. The tree provides housing for birds and small animals.
Canadian anemone, Anemone canadensis L., is also known as round-leaf thimbleweed, Canada anemone, windflower and Meadow anemone, and is a member of the buttercup family. The plant produces leaves around the base and stems that grow from 1 to 2 feet tall, each one with a circle of leaves with a single white flower in the middle, blooming in April, May and June. Plant Canadian anemone in partial or full shade and a moist, sandy soil.
Heart-leaf leopardbane, Arnica cordifolia, is also known as heart-leaf arnica and is a member of the aster family. The plant produces heart-shaped green leaves growing at the base of 8- to 20-inch-long stems. Each stem holds from one to three small yellow flowers that bloom from May through August. Plant heart-leaf leopardbane in partial shade and a soil that is moist to dry.
Big Sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata, is also called great basin sagebrush and is a member of the aster family. The plant is an evergreen shrub and grows up to 9 feet tall with a spread almost as wide. The shrub features small, velvet, silver leaves and small, yellow flowers that bloom in June. Plant big sagebrush in full sun and a dry, rocky soil. The plant is a food source for deer, moose, elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and sage grouse.
Blue grama, Bouteloua gracilis, is an ornamental grass that grows from 12 to 14 inches tall with thin leaves, yellow flowers that bloom from July through October and blue-green seed heads that grow horizontally from the tips of the stems. In Montana, the plant grows as a sod grass. Plant blue grama in full sun and a dry soil. The plant will attract both birds and butterflies to the garden.