History of the Gardens

The Gardens is set on land that has been in the Jellison/Jost family since the 1880s. Located on the fertile Yellowstone River flood plain, the plot was once part of a 10-acre vegetable farmland. In the intervening years, the family sold off pieces of the land.

In mid-1990s, Dan Jellison and Walt Williams, living in the house in the north part of the premises on a one-acre parcel, decided to convert their backyard which was just grass and pasture into garden areas. They grew vegetables and planted flowering perennials and annuals, shrubs and trees.

In 1996, they hosted a thank-you dinner in their backyard/garden for the Mental Health Center’s May Clay Day volunteers, which garnered attention from the Billings community.

Later that year, they were invited to participate in The Moss Mansion Garden Tours, a weekend event in which a few selected private gardens opened their doors to the public. Dan and Walt had 400 visitors that weekend. That event and public encouragement officially launched the DanWalt Gardens.

In 1997, Bright N’ Beautiful, a non-profit community organization dedicated to litter prevention, recycling education and the beautification of Billings and Yellowstone County, bestowed Dan Jellison and the DanWalt Gardens with an award each.

As the Gardens saw increase in visitors and popularity, their services grew to include outdoor luncheons, afternoon teas, evening soirees and wedding ceremonies. Dan’s background in biology and education led to many regular gardening how-to and science workshops for the public and school children in the Gardens.

In 1999 and 2003, two more acres of the original Jellison/Jost property were acquired, which allowed for the building of an outdoor bar and a pavilion with a commercial service kitchen to accommodate indoor events, more attendees and the weather. To better cater for weddings, a ceremony pergola and a bride room were also built. Currently, the Gardens can host events ranging from weddings, reunions, birthdays, baby showers and private parties to luncheons, soirees, workshops and memorials.

With the availability of more land, Dan’s and Walt’s labor of love flourished into themed areas including a European Parterre, a Japanese Garden, a Rose Garden, a Ceremony Garden and a pond, in addition to bridges, statuaries, fountains, numerous trees, shrubs and flowering plants that provide vibrant year-round blooms. Dan and Walt also raised two types of exotic chickens to add excitement to the Gardens.

In 2017, Dan and Walt were ready to take on new adventures and sold the Gardens to Clint and Suri Lunde.

 


Interesting Facts

  • The existing private home on the north part of the property is built on the footprint of the farm’s original carriage house.
  • The McIntosh apple tree by the pavilion was planted in 1896.
  • The rhubarb plants in the garden are the progenies of the plant that was planted in early 1900s.
  • The ancestors of the black-tailed Japanese chickens were hatched by Dan Jellison in 1950s.
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