GBBD for June 2009

To all my fellow Idaho gardeners/garden bloggers, I hope you are doing the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Its not too late to run out side, snap some picks and link over to May Dreams Gardens. Come on!

Here’s my offering for June:

Hardy fuschia 'Gartenmeister'
Hardy fuschia 'Gartenmeister'
Good ol' fashioned tiger lilies
Good ol' fashioned tiger lilies
Knautia, delosperma, penstemon and callirhoe
Knautia, delosperma, penstemon and callirhoe
callicarpa 'Profusion' aka Beautyberry
callicarpa 'Profusion' aka Beautyberry
penstemon Prairie Jewel
penstemon Prairie Jewel
Moonglow juniper, geranium Roxanne

Yes, there’s more: penstemon barbatus, penstemon psueudospectabilis, veronica Royal Candles, rosa chinensis mutabilis, calendula, and verbena bonariensis.

And it’s stopped raining for a few minutes~!

Dear Carol and Dee (friends and gardeners, week 15)

Dear Carol and Dee, my gardening friends,

Good Grief! Egads! For crying out loud! What is WITH this rain? This is going to go down as one of the wettest Junes on record for Boise, Idaho. It has rained every day, and not just a little spritz here and there. Nosireebob! It’s been a down pour every day. One evening I checked the rain guage and found it held two inches. Impossible I am thinking?? We never get rain like that. The weather man said we had about .14 inches of rain (in the newscast). Just so happened I ended up hanging with said weatherman and asked him, oh great wise one, how can it be??

Of course he attempted to give me the old razzle dazzle fo’ shizzle about orographic effects and yes, I DO live in the Foothills with a capital “F” and I understand we sometimes get more rain here than at the airport, HOWEVER, 1.86 inches of precip in a desert is a huge discrepancy. Let me just say, he didn’t answer my questions to my satisfaction.

So, under the guise of Father’s Day, I came up with a plan. I bought Flyboy a nice weather station as a gift. The dog is taking credit for the gifting. Indy (that would be Carol) gave me some great pointers on buying a weather station – hers has been up and running for a couple of months. Anyway, imagine his surprise when he got his present early! Now, if he’d just get it set up so I can use it. Sheeeeesh.

I have saved enough money on my water bill this month to pay for the weather station and a few new plants. Normally, July-September we have to water every third of fourth day, just to keep the plants and lawn alive. I turned the sprinkler system off a couple of weeks ago. This is an excellent development if you ask me. Everything is so lush and green (providing ample feasts for the damn aphids, but lush and green). I am planning to get out there and weed, weed, weed on Monday. The soil is so soft and nice, the weeds are growing like crazy but also pull out very easily.

Of course, the raspberries are still coming along, none for feasting yet. And the tomatoes are setting a couple of little fruits. The Chinese red noodle beans aren’t up yet, but anyday.

Ah! And I am thrilled to report I have two new espaliered pear trees in my possession. Each tree, about 4 feet high, has 6 nice branches and each branch has a different pear variety: Comice, Red Bartlett, Bartlett, Bosc, Flemish, and Anjou. I have visions of spinach and pear salads dancing in my head. Pear brandy. Pear butter. Pear compote. Spiced pears. A pear and a spare. I’ll stop now.

Today is the 23rd Annual Garden Tour in Bozville (slang for Boise), so I am out the door and headed for duty at one of the gardens as a coordinator. Please please please make the rain stay away until 5 pm.

From a deliciously rain-soaked Ranch du Bois,
Your Dirt Diva, Ida-Hoe

Ps, By this time next week I promise you I will have all my plants in the ground -including the newest acquisition, a ‘Grace’ cotinus (purple smoke bush), which is now resting quietly in the truck.

ppss, White Flower Farms will replace those Mara des Bois strawberries next season. I’m happy.

Catching up: Chicago Trip for Garden Bloggers

Reader, let me be the first to apologize for leaving you turning in the wind, without ballast, these last few weeks. I know, I KNOW! It’s prime gardening season and I have been MIA. Sorry. So sorry. We all get busy busy this time of the year. Seems we always go from a frosty standstill to 100 miles an hour overnight. Just a month ago, it was 27 on a Tuesday night and the next Monday registered 94 degrees. This is why it’s called the Wild Wild West.

Top it off with a pollen count of 360 a couple weeks ago and yours truly couldn’t take it another minute. Long story short, I’ve been under the weather, and mostly under the radar. But I have some garden snaps to share with you.

First up, I crawled onto an airplane on May 28th for the trip to Chicago. I was lucky enough to attend the first annual Garden Bloggers’ Spring Fling in Austin last April. It was decided then, to meet up in Chicago in 2009. Meet up we did, all 51 of us. (Blotanical shows 600+ gardeners, I don’t know how many in the US).

We were squired around and hosted by the Chicago Botanic Gardens, saw Rick Bayless’s garden, the Lurie at Millenium Park, conservatories, and private gardens. Here are some photos and comments on Rick Bayless’s garden.

Rick's outdoor kitchen, used for filming Mexico, One Plate at a Time
Rick's outdoor kitchen, used for filming Mexico, One Plate at a Time

They grow $20K of salad greens for the restaurants, HERE.
They grow $20K of salad greens for the restaurants, HERE.
From the back of the garden looking toward Rick's house.
From the back of the garden looking toward Rick's house.
View from the porch, cucumbers are started in the center of these laundry dollies.
View from the porch, cucumbers are started in the center of these laundry dollies.

Another view of the cool back screen door, vintage bread door handle
Another view of the cool back screen door, vintage bread sign/door handle
Lush ornamental plantings for relaxing in the garden
Lush ornamental plantings for relaxing in the garden
Brilliant~!Grapes trained onto garage roof to save space and to get plenty of sunshine.
Brilliant~!Grapes trained onto garage roof to save space and to get plenty of sunshine.

Next: the incredible Lurie Garden at Millenium Park.

Dear Friends and Gardeners, Dee and Carol,

Hooray Hooray, it’s FINALLY MAY!

Dear gardening friends,

Week 9 and I am giddy with anticipation and happiness in the garden. The promise of the new season, which is finally here, so much potential and so many possibilities and I KNOW it will warm up soon whether I like it or not.

I spent the morning walking through a friend’s garden. I went to buy tomatoes, but snagged an impromptu tour for my tagalong pals. Betty’s garden is part old and part new, taking up several lots in the oldest part of Boise, fed by geothermal waters, offering up a truck-patch-size vegetable garden and fields of lavender. I walked through the shade garden, the secret garden, and the fairy garden. I started to open the door to the fairy house at the base of an old maple when Betty admonished me it would be akin to opening Pandora’s box. Yikes!

Instead, I admired the unfurling red fronds of cinnamon ferns, the velvety new leaves of the purple beech, the funky skunky smell of amazingly beautiful Imperial fritallarias, and a few minutes later the soft fragrance of the ancient crab apple tree. The colors of spring are so different from the colors of late summer: a lot of pastels, bright lime green of fresh tender new growth, the hot pinks of ornamental strawberries and Bechtel crab apples. Oh, I adore Bechtel crab apples! The blossoms are fat and round and remind me of pink gumballs.

But I digress, my fellow vegetable gardening friends. I went to Betty’s with a plan: she grows 100 varieties of tomatoes, heirloom and hybrids, all started from seed, maybe 5 or 6 of each variety. She sells them on her front porch for a couple of days, or until they are all gone. Get this: she keeps over one hundred plants for her own garden. I hear tell they have a tomato and wine tasting party the end of August. I was not so subtle in my hinting for an invite. Anyhow, the tomatoes are in 4 inch pots, 7 for $20, and each variety is nicely labeled. She even hands out an Excel spreadsheet listing all the plants detailing their predicted day to fruition, seed source, special characteristics, etc. A tomato lover’s dream come true.

Since I am still failing miserably at starting my tomatoes from seed (2 Sungolds about 1 inch high, second set of leaves), I jumped at the opportunity to get some nice starts from her. Here’s what I brought home: (1) Box Car Willy, 10-16 oz good for canning and freezing; (1) Chianti Rose, an heirloom rosy red Italian beefsteak type, thin skinned, yet crack resistant; (2) Great White Beefsteak which Betty told me is an odd looker but superb eating (I took her at her word); (1) Heart-shaped Brandywine, a highly recommended heirloom fave; (1) Sungella, a new cross between an heirloom cherry and the fabulous Sungold; and finally (1) Hillbilly, an heirloom w/ 1-2 pound beefsteak type tomatoes, orange and yellow streaked from West-by-God-Virginia. I can get away with saying that because a good chunk of my family came from WV.

Of course, upon arriving home with my new tomato booty, I was greeted by a yet another down pour. This is always a good thing when you live in the desert and are lucky to measure 10-12 inches of precip a year. So, it’s entirely too wet and muddy to plant the little beauties right now. And since I have no earthly idea where I might find my Walls-o-water in my garage, I best be keeping the tomatoes under cover for a little while longer. Our last frost date is May 10th, give or take a couple of weeks. Our local rule of thumb: plant your tomatoes if and only if, the snow is gone from Shafer Butte (7282 feet in elevation).

My garlic is growing great guns. I hope it sends out “scapes” soon. My peas, Russian something or others, aren’t up yet, but then, they’ve only been in for a week. The alpine strawberry is still blooming its heart out, ditto the apples, and I have maybe 4 of the stoopid Mara des Bois strawberry crowns still showing signs of life.

And that, my friends, is the weekly growing report from Ranch du Bois, nestled in the foothills of Boise, Idaho, where silver and gold in the sunlight blaze, and romance lies in her name, singing of I-da-ho!

MA
Ps, check out the view from my desk:
pink-dogwood-resized

EARTH DAY HURRAY!

In honor of Earth Day, the true Mother’s Day (Mother Nature, silly!), I recommend taking in as many plant sales as possible. Here’s the short list:

Friday and Saturday, April 24th & 25th, Annual Plant Sale at the Idaho Botanical Garden. Friday night is member’s only, you get first dibbs on all the good stuff. Gates open at 4 pm. and you will want to be there early. Wine, cheese, and crackers are served free of charge. The Friday MEMBERS ONLY sale has become a harbinger of Spring for Boise gardeners. Get caught up with your fellow Felco-wielding pals, load up your cart, and get ready to garden.

Psst: A little bird told me there is a shipment of really nice stuff coming in from Mountain States Wholesale + look for heirloom tomatoes from the Boise State University horticulture program.

Idaho Native Plant Society sale, held at the MK Nature Center, 10-2 on Saturday, April 25th. 600 South Walnut Street, adjacent to Municipal Park, just off Warm Springs Avenue.

Idaho Earth Institute plant sale at Lucy’s Coffee and Espresso, 1079 Broadway Avenue, click here for a map.
The sale is from 10-2.

I’ll be working Friday night at the Member’s Only sale at the Garden. Stop by and say hi.

You can hear my latest podcast/visit to the 94.9, The River, by clicking here: River Interactive, Morning Features.