Gardens of the Wild Wild West Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw. ~H.D. Thoreau Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:36:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lewis’s Monkeyflower Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:36:20 +0000 Lewis's Monkeyflower

Lewis’s Monkeyflower

This beauty was first reported by the Corps of Discovery on August 12, 1805, at Lemhi Pass, Montana.

]]> 0
Aconitum columbianum or Columbian larkspur: tall and elegant Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:11:18 +0000 Columbian Larkspur

Columbian Larkspur


3-IMG_0201C:\Users\Mary Ann\Desktop\Aconitum columbianum or Columbian larkspur

]]> 0
Deadly. Pretty but Deadly. Sun, 26 Jul 2015 21:10:18 +0000 The eye catching but totally toxic acteae rubra, or Red baneberry.

The eye catching but totally toxic acteae rubra, or Red baneberry.


While birds can eat the berries with no problem, these berries are highly toxic to people, often causing cardiac arrest.

]]> 0
Wildflowers, WOW! Sun, 26 Jul 2015 03:09:02 +0000 Same trip from Ketchum to Fairfield ID, via Warm Springs Road, down through the Castle Rock fire burn area. These are Ranger’s Buttons. How cool are they?

Sphenosciadium Capitellatum, Rangers Buttons

Sphenosciadium Capitellatum, Rangers Buttons

]]> 0
Cool stuff in the mountains of Idaho Sun, 26 Jul 2015 03:06:15 +0000 6-Sun Valley & Wildflowers July 2015

We stopped for a picnic on our way through the mountains. These aspen trees had been carved with initials. Lovers?

]]> 0
FIREWISE: Critical Information for your home. Wed, 01 Jul 2015 03:44:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]> FIREWISE LANDSCAPING

Wildfires are a part of life in the great American west. You can greatly reduce the risk of wildfire burning your home by practicing “firewise landscaping.” This is the practice of creating a “defensible” space” around your home and across your property, as much as 60 to 100 feet from the house. The Bureau of Land Management and municipal fire agencies have put some guidelines and safety tips for homeowners.
Create Zones of Defense

Zone 1, from the house outward, 30 or more feet: use fire resistant plants only (list follows). These are primarily low-growing, fire resistant plants, particularly ground covers and vines. Keep plants and the area near the house well maintained, removing “duff” or dead plant material . Keep grasses mowed and well irrigated. A gravel mulch is recommended and has several benefits: it will reduce water loss, keep plant roots cool, and discourage weed growth. Break up the plantings near the house with stone patios and walkways – this minimizes the ability of fire to run along continuous fuel sources. Be certain to clean out gutters and rake up leaves.

Zone 2, 30-60 feet from the house or farther: reduce plant density. Use only low-growing and fire resistant plants and shrubs. Keep tall grasses and shrubs well groomed and space them. It is recommended they be planted two times their height apart. For instance, a shrub that will reach 10 feet of height at maturity should be spaced 20 feet from its neighboring shrub.

Zone 3, 60-100 feet from the house: thin and prune existing plants. Prune tree limbs 6-10 feet up the trunk of the tree and minimize overlapping branches between trees and shrubs.

Fire Resistant Plants

All plants are flammable, but some plants are more fire resistant than others. They have high moisture content, are low growing, with high salt or soap content and are non-resinous. They will generally have large leaves and green stems, too.

Avoid sage, pine and juniper which are high in resins and volatile oils making them extremely flammable. Plants which are deciduous are preferable to conifers. Drought tolerant plants (most of which are listed in this book), have thick succulent leaves.

In the list below, the plant groups are from the top to bottom, the most flammable to more fire resistant. Note that conifers and grasses are at the TOP of the list and can be dangerous.

Conifers (least fire resistant)
Deciduous trees
Succulents (most fire resistant)

Note that fire resistant vines and groundcovers are generally inexpensive and relatively easy to maintain. Vines can be trained on metal fences to create a “green fence” which may stop or at least slow down a wildfire.


Fire resistant ground covers

Ajuga – Ajuga reptans
Basket of Gold – Aurinia saxatalis
Bearberry or Kinnikinnick -Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Caucasica sage – Artemisia caucasica
Creeping phlox – Phlox subulata
Creeping thyme – Thymus praecox
Giant flowered soapwort -Saponaria x lempergii
Green mat penstemon- Penstemon davidsonii
Ground cover rose – Rosa hybrid
Hardy iceplant – Delosperma spp.
Hardy plumbago – Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Hens and chicks – Escheveria spp.
Hummelo lamb’s ear- Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’
Japanese pachysandra- Pachysandra terminalis
Lamb’s ear- Stachys byzantina
Lily of the valley- Convallaria majalis
Mat penstemon- Penstemon caespitosus
Mother of thyme – Thymus serphyllum
Poppy mallow – Callirhoe involucrata
Pussytoes- Antennaria spp.
Rock soapwort – Saponaria ocymoides
Rockcress- Arabis spp.
Silver-edged horehound- Marrubium rotundifolium
Snow in summer – Cerastium tormentosum
Turkish speedwell – Veronica liwanensis

Fire resistant vines

Chocolate vine – Akebia quinata
Clematis – Clematis spp.
Climbing hydrangea- Hydrangea anomala petiolaris
Dragon Lady crossvine- Bignonia capreolata ‘Dragon Lady’
Grapes – Vitis spp.
Honeysuckle- Lonicera spp. and hybrids
Hops vine- Humulus lupulus
Kiwi vine- Actinidia kolmikta
Matrimony vine* – Lycium barbarum
Purple Leaf Grape- Vitis vinifera
Silver lace vine*- Polygonum aubertii
Sweet Autumn clematis- Clematis terniflora
Sweet pea- Lathurus latifolius
Trumpet honeysuckle- Lonicera sempervirens
Trumpet vine- Campsis radicans
Virginia creeper* – Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Wisteria Wisteria spp.

*Can be invasive

Fire resistant shrubs and trees

Aspen – Populus tremuloides
Birch – Betula spp.
Buckthorn- Rhamnus spp.
Buffalo berry- Sheperdia spp.
Currant- Ribes spp.
Lilac – Syringa vulgaris
Maple Acer spp.-
Mountain Mahogany- Cercis ledifolius
Service berry- Amelanchier spp.
Skunkbush sumac -Rhus tribolata
Snowberry – Symphoricarpos spp.
Western Sandcherry- Prunus basseyi
Willow – Salix spp.

]]> 0
THE WREATH RECIPE BOOK: A BEAUTY Sat, 08 Nov 2014 16:59:17 +0000

STUDIO CHOO does it again! Inspiration for creating magic with sprigs, twigs, flowers and fruit from the garden or the field. Make a wreath, a swag, a gift. Wreath Recipe

]]> 0
From Zone 4 Magazine: Orange Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:59:48 +0000 Continue reading ]]> sungold

This recipe is from the latest issue of Zone 4 Magazine, where I found a great article on Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint. Sungold tomatoes are delicious and wildly productive (read: a lot!) I thought it would be a good recipe to make/share. The addition of smoked paprika is brilliant!

Orange Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika

12 cups chopped orange tomatoes
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a large, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce temperature to a simmer. Stirring regularly, gently boil the jam until it reduces to a sticky, jammy mess. Cooking at a fairly rapid pace, it should take about an hour of cooking.
When the jam has cooked down sufficiently, remove from heat and fill jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Wipe rims, apply lids and twist on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

When time is up, remove jars from water bath and allow them to cool. When jars are cool enough to handle, test seals. Store jars in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

]]> 0
Silver Award from Garden Writers. Fri, 15 Aug 2014 20:36:21 +0000 Yours truly winning the Silver Award of Distinction for writing a story about Cougar Annie.

Yours truly winning the Silver Award of Distinction for writing a story about Cougar Annie.

]]> 0
Wine cups. You want several. Thu, 14 Aug 2014 20:31:15 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Callirhoe involucrata

Callirhoe involucrata

Wine cups are a wonderful, waterwise/drought tolerant, colorful, plant for any garden in Mountain States. Heck, for any garden! I found my original plants at a Fred Meyer ?store in Boise. They can be mail ordered from High Country Gardens, as well. They started blooming in May, and are still going strong. I cut them back by about a foot, and did so twice this season. It keeps them from getting to straggly. Harvest the fully mature seeds and scatter them wherever you’d like to add some bang bang color to your garden.

Botanical name: callirhoe involucrata
Color: hot pink
Size: 6 inches tall by 6 feet wide
Perennial that gently reseeds.

]]> 0