Billings, Montana: a little city in this vast, wild state. Take a trip up to our rims for a view of the majestic Beartooth Mountains; or amble through one of our river parks (Riverfront, Two Moon or Dover), and you become immersed in the natural delights of bird calls and the untamed Yellowstone.
A walk downtown however, surrounded by buildings and pavement disconnects us from these natural wonders. But on closer look, you might see honeybees and other pollinators buzzing about native plants which were carefully and lovingly placed in pocket gardens.
This greenery, while perhaps seldom noticed by busy passersby, would likely be noticed if it was taken away.
These micro parks with wild things make our city beautiful and connect us to the nature we often miss when we are buzzing and fructifying our own lives.
And who makes this possible? Well, there is a unique and passionate soul behind these gardens. He works for Billings Parks and Recreation and his name is Nick Miller. When you talk to him about his plants and his pollinator project, he gets a bit verklempt.
“Nature is something everyone should enjoy. Humans often lose that connection with nature, so they may not notice it all around them,” he says.
“I’m bringing in plants that attract pollinators into the downtown environment. If you don’t have the opportunity to get into the mountains, you can see the bugs and plant material right here.”
Part of Nick’s work this summer involved installing birdbaths along Montana Avenue with high schoolers. You can see them on the corners of 23rd and Montana Avenue.
Nick is easy to spot in his beige Park uniform. Talk to him sometime and see if you don’t feel a little more excited about downtown plants, insects and the natural world. His enthusiasm for them is infectious, and his careful work shows.
Thanks Nick, for your big heart for the natural world and bringing that into ours.