Gardening in January and February

Several things to keep you entertained until the ground thaws and the buds swell. The Idaho Landscape and Nursery Association holds its 2006 Horticulture Expo at the Center on the Grove (I refuse to spell it C-E-N-T-R-E). You can register online at” The dates are January 18-20th. This is a terrific trade show, great educational opportunity, and the perfect time to get caught up with old friends.

Two speakers I am especially looking forward to hearing: Julie Moir Messervy and Susan Goetz.

Julie Moir Messervy collaborated with the famed cellist YoYo Ma to develop the waterfront Toronto Music Garden. The garden is inspired by the music of Bach and was featured in a three part documentary on PBS. She has authored four beautiful books on garden design. She will be addressing the issue of scale in design at the Expo. Scale is one of the most difficult aspects of design and very few get it right.

Susan Goetz, formerly of Idaho, is the owner of the Creative Gardener in Seattle. She has won several design awards for her installations at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.

Then, on Saturday the 21st, the Idaho Master Gardeners will be holding their Green Thumb Gardening School at Timberline High School. Their website is listed to the right. Or call 208-377-2107 for more information.

February 4th marks the return of the Horticulture Symposium to the Center on the Grove. Call Linda Jarsky for more information at 208-859-3818. The registration form will be posted here in the next day or two or pick one up at Edwards Greenhouse.

And of course, the ultimate escape and mini-break is a trip to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. Held from the 8th-12th, check out their website at I bought a ticket on Southwest Airlines for $128.

And of course, start perusing those catalogues. Today I recieved the latest from High Country Gardens. Have also recieved the new offerings from Seeds of Change, Burpee, etc.

Oh, and I am taking my sweet time re-organizing my garden library and making plans for my garden in 2006. Rock on!

Using something from the garden, anyone’s garden

OK, so there’s not a lot of gardening to be done today. It is pouring rain here and snowing like crazy in McCall. We were headed up there for New Year’s but the road report was kind of nasty so we decided to stay put for a few days. Having the afternoon with nothing scheduled, I decided it was a good day for making soup. Happened to have a bag of Fort Boise Spanish Onions on hand, so viola! I made my favorite French Onion Soup. The recipe is from a wonderful cookbook, Julia Child The Way to Cook. It was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1989. Here it is:

Timing: For the most delicious results, you want a slow simmer of 2 ½ to 3 hours.

For about 2 ½ quarts, serving 6

3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. light olive oil
8 cups thinly sliced onions (2 ½ pounds)
½ tsp eachsalt and sugar (sugar helps the onons to brown)
2 Tbs flour
2 ½ quarts homemade beef stock. At least 2 cups of which should be hot
4 to 5 Tbs Cognac, Armagnac, or other good brandy
1 cup dry white French vermouth

Use a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan with cover for onion cooking and simmering.

Browning the onions – 40 minutes. Set the saucepan over moderate heat with the butter and oil; when the butter has melted, stir in the onions, cover the pan, and cook slowly until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Blend in the salt and sugar, raise heat to moderately high, and let the onions brown, stirring frequently until they are a dark walnut color, 25 to 30 minutes.

Simmering the soup. Sprinkle in the flour and cook slowly, stirring, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool a moment. Then whisk in 2 cups of hot stock. When well blended, bring to a simmer, adding the rest of the stock, the Cognac or brandy, and the vermouth. Cover loosely, and simmer very slowly 1 ½ hours, adding a little water if the liquid reduces too much. Correct seasoning.

Serving. Serve the soup as it is, accompanying it with French bread and a bowl of grated swiss or parmesan cheese, or gratine’. A gratine’ is made by floating a toasted piece of homemade/rustic bread on the soup with some grated cheese on top. Put it under the broiler to get it all hot and bubbly before serving.

A few days left until Christmas

It is time to plug for the Idaho Botanical Garden and their 250,000 lights at Winter Garden Aglow. If you haven’t been, you must go. They are open from 6-9pm through January 1st. Hot cocoa and cider and cookies are available. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids.. I heard there might be reindeer! (OK, probably domestic caribou, because, aren’t reindeer from Lapland?) Live music most nights as well. Not by the reindeer.

For the shoppers, don’t miss the gift shop. Diana puts it together and it is awesome.

Make this your new holiday tradition. For more info, call them at 208-343-8649.

It is 4:25 pm and snowing with an advisory in effect until 11:15 tonight. Humbug. I still have to get the ornaments on the tree. D got the lights on last night – and they look mighty fine. Almost fine enough to go it alone. Without ornaments. Uh-oh, there’s the humbug sneakin back in. Onward!

What this gardener does in the winter…….

So much for the idea that I was going to post every 48 hours. I could say the plants are dormant; therefore, I am,but that wouldn’t really be the case. With the holidays upon us, I am just slightly distracted.

I will tell you how I feed my gardening Jones during the off season.

I wrote my annual Christmas letter and got it out via e-mail last night. Only 5 came back as undeliverable. And I discovered ONE more grammar error after it was mailed (and after I checked it a half dozen times). For the lucky recipients I included two of my favorite photos from the Garden Writers Conference in BC. As such, I got to look at them. It helps. Especially when it is 10 degrees outside, the air is nasty (Code Yellow) and vistas hazy and stinky.

I bought an Australian lifestyle magazine and poured over the garden pictures. Because it is summer there they are featuring lush gardens this time of year. Ha!

While making coffee this morning I started going through the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalogue. See Within a matter of 26 pages and 15 minutes I could have ordered enough seeds to start my own truck patch. Down girl! Oh, but they have like a gazillion varieties of eggplants and and and yardlong Chinese beans and exotic artichokes….. And how about this for the name of a lettuce: “Forellenschluss?” It is descsribed as an old Austrian heirloom and the name means speckled trout. Very beautiful and tasty. I gotta have it. And this for an eggplant: “Rotunda Bianca Sfumata Di Rosa?” Quote: ” A striking Italian heirloom. ” Well, there you go………gotta have that as well. OK, here is one – ‘Nipple Fruit.’ Oh my.

I am supposed to be sitting here putting together my plant list and order for the theme garden at the Boise Flower and Garden Show at the end of March. Due today. Uh oh.

I made my hotel reservations for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show in February. Back to the Seattle Sheraton this year. Delos demands it. I spent some time yesterday deciding where I would spend my time eating. The short list includes Canlis, the home of Northwest cuisine. Savuer magazine said the house salad is one of the top 100 dishes in America. Well, we can’t miss that, now, can we? No siree bob. And thanks to my friend Liz Dodson, I will be taking lunch at the famous Pink Door. I am thinking that dinner at Tulio’s may be on the agenda as well.

And today I will get my jumbo amaryllis in their pots. They have started to send up blades of green while just lying about on the kitchen counter. Just to mock me.

More later.

Pick of the Litter

Books I’d rather not live without/my favorite garden books. Included are books for reference, color, plant ID, eye candy, inspiration, admiration and what the heck do I do now………

Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Michael Dirr
Color in the Garden, Sandra and Nori Pope
The Bold Romantic Garden, Oehme and Van Sweden
The Undaunted Gardener, Lauren Springer
The Well-Tended Perennial Garden, Tracy di-Sabato Aust
Weeds of the West, Western Weed Conference (trust me, you don’t want to live without this)
Idaho Mountain Wildflowers, A. Scott Earle
Earthman, by the late great Henry Mitchell
A Year at Madoo, by proprietor/creator Robert Dash
American Household Botany, Judith Sumner
Yard Full of Sun, Scott Calhoun