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Quarterly newsletter - Fall Edition

Yellowstone Arboretum

Plaza Color

Maples, Oaks, Locusts, Lindens, Hackberries and so much more !

Summer's Shade is now Autumn's Tapestry
"Experiencing Nature and the World of Trees"

With the beginning of fall we can always expect the best in what trees have to offer. The Sensation Boxelders have already begun their change to autumn's orange, red and golds. The green pods of the Catalpa are showing a tinge of brown and the Rocky Mountain Glow Wasatch Maple at Lynx will soon show it's "half of summer and half of fall" display. As we prepare for cooler weather we will be taking this opportunity to clean-up and put to rest the trees that we have enjoyed this arboretum season. Our volunteers will be taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and completing some much needed chores this fall and getting back in touch with nature !



It's been a great season for Monarch watching on the grounds as more critters have been sighted between August 15-31 than the last 3 years combined. Visitors, gardeners and volunteers have reported sightings at the Plant Select Garden, South Plaza, Sensory Garden, Homestead and Foster Waterfowl Refuge.


More Monarch info can be found on our Features section...

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Artemisia Chapter - Billings

We are pleased to announce that the Artemisia Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society has become part of the ZooMontana volunteer family. This group of native plant enthusiasts will take over the maintenance and detail of the new Foster Waterfowl Refuge. They are responsible for the health and beauty of this new natural and native area of the grounds. The group will also have the opportunity to introduce new  plants to compliment the existing native and nearly native population. If you see them working the refuge stop and ask a question or two to tap into their vast knowledge of what grows in Montana.


Dahlia Memorial Garden

A new Dahlia garden has been established this season at the largest Koi Pond in the Homestead Collection. Dahlias have been somewhat unique to Billings and you will find these new introductions to the gardens absolutely stunning. Plans are in the making for sales of Dahlia tubers by spring of 2024 so stay tuned for more information. Special thanks to new volunteer Michael Forrey for sharing his expert knowledge in the growth and care of Dahlias.


Fall Campaign

With the new season comes cooler temperatures and more comfortable conditions to kick off the arboretum's yearly Fall campaign. This year's project list will continue the arboretum's dedication to establishing a healthy environment for the trees and shrubs highlighted by conservation efforts of some of our rarer trees, continued pruning schedule and detail work on prominent display specimens. Some of the projects are listed below.

Remember, if you are interested in volunteering just go to our contact form and one of the staff will contact you with more information in this worthwhile opportunity !

Clean-up of Chickadee Trail- Raking of leaves along pathways, Wild Bird Garden and Elm Tree Meadow, fertilization and rescue of Bosnian Pines and mulching of trees.

Spruce Grove Conservation- Trimming, mowing, pruning and watering of Endangered Spruce Grove with special emphasis on health of rare Koyami Spruce.

Detail Lodgepole Meadow- Prune all trees with emphasis on Lodgepole Grove. Belly prune Colorado Spruce and rake for insect control. Detail Native Dogwood and mulch where needed.

The Dell- Trim grass, mulch and cage Lilac Collection. Clean Iris garden for next season. Remove downed branches and spread bark on trail.


Some Different Directions

After some thoughtful considerations the arboretum has decided to take a different approach to new inventory procedures. We have found a satisfaction in the development of trees by utilizing seedlings, seeds and bare root planting in place of purchasing nursery grown specimens. By adopting this approach the arboretum can save ZooMontana $$ and at the same time introduce a better selection of more rare plants to our Montana climate at a much reduced cost and nurture these new plants along the way. Consider this a beginning for a much needed nursery of our own.

That being said, there are a few programs that will remain the same. The Memorial Tree, Adopt-a-Tree and Pinetum introduction programs stay the same. The Trial Species Program will also remain, with the 2024 program being the Japanese Maple. These programs are more economical to keep in place at this time.

Featured Attraction" 

The grounds of ZooMontana and Yellowstone Arboretum offer a delightful view of nature. Some views and angles offer a unique perspective of what we all too often walk right past on our way to our objectives. Here's three of those perspectives. See if you can recognize them and guess where in the arboretum they can be found. Answers can be found on our "Features" page.


(1) Riparian ?


(3) Looks like a small prairie ?

(2) Largest leaf in town ?



First Annual Tree Workshop

Mark your calendars for Saturday October 14 for the first annual tree workshop hosted by your own Yellowstone Arboretum.

Learn the basics of tree types, tree selection, care and maintenance of trees and more from the friendly confines of the ZooMontana Pavilion.

And it's FREE to members and FREE to anyone paying regular admittance.

Begins at 10 a.m. and will go to Noon. This will also be a hands on workshop so tools will be provided !


Billings Urban Forestry

Some exciting things are happening with urban forestry in Billings. Attend this meeting to learn from guest speakers the importance of trees in Billings. Hosted by the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, the meeting will be October 25 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Billings Library


Tree Inventory

A special thanks to volunteers Joe M. and Lynne E. for their continued efforts in the arboretum inventory project. To date they have inventoried over 600 trees to determine size, canopy, health, GPS location and environmental value to the Zoo. These are what is considered the non-core trees (without signage). Core display trees were inventoried in 2018. The end result will greatly increase the Zoo's bottom line and put an actual value on each tree and at the same time determine what action needs to be taken to aid the tree in it's development and growth !

New Educational Signage

As part of the 2023 Oak Initiative Project look for new educational signage to be installed near the newly planted Oaks in the south plaza. This information will inform visitors on many aspects of oak tree life. Also look for new signage to be installed along the pathway at the MNLA North American Conifer Garden explaining some great facts about conifers.

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New Webpage

The Botanical Society of ZooMontana webpage has now been incorporated into the ZooMontana website. Current and historical photos along with contact and volunteer forms can now be accessed through the ZooMontana site !


Meet the Arboretum

Interested in an entertaining and informative meeting for your group or civic organization ? The arboretum is available for just that. Recent meetings with the Audubon Center and Kiwanis Club have had excellent turnouts. Your organization could enjoy the same.

Contact Scott at:

406-860-3160 or email at:

Click here to see slideshow presentation


"The mission of the Yellowstone Arboretum is to cultivate arboreta appreciation and understanding of our local heritage through public education, organic preservation and stewardship of our natural environment."

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