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Several nursery owners in western Montana said their plants and trees weren't damaged by the unseasonable snow, but said the chilly temperatures were affecting sales.

Just a few hardy shoppers were browsing their aisles this week.

"This snow really puts a damper on people wanting to get out in their yards and plant," said Chuck Ibey, co-owner of Ibey Nursery and Garden Center in Missoula. "It's slowed it down quite a bit this week."

He and others advised homeowners to knock the heavy snow off the shrubs and trees, saying the weight burdening the limbs causes the most damage.

They also suggested taking down any hanging baskets to protect the flowers from wind and moisture damage.

Frost covers or staking blankets over tomato plants and other vegetables would protect the tender growth, they said.

"Quite a few people planted the first of June and some of them probably took some hits," he said.

Beverly Gutman of Marchie's Nursery said their trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials fared well.

"Things came through pretty good," she said. "It is kind of quiet, so we're able to get caught up on stocking, cleaning house and putting shipments out for display. So it is a nice little breather."

She said the damp and cold could lead to some fungus on plants.

"We're finding the basil and vegetables like cucumbers, squash and cantaloupes are sitting there and want some warmth and solar energy," she said. "On the plus side, we get to water less with this weather."

Scott Thompson, manager of the Four Seasons Nursery in Kalispell, said there wasn't too much damage to the 50,000 trees on the 160-acre farm.

"I'm A-OK," he said. "There is not much you can do. If Mother Nature is going to snap a branch, she will. I got a few trees that are bent over a little bit, but there wasn't too much damage."

Reporter Pamela J. Podger may be reached at 523-5241 or at pamela.podger@missoulian.com.

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