Get out the Calendar

I still have bulbs to get in the ground before it freezes. When I look out the window at Bogus and see the snow on the ski hill, and the rain coming down in the valley like crazy (thank you thank you thank you), I know the growing season is pretty much over. And I start planning next year’s antics……….

Some gardening events you will want to look forward to include the resurrected Horticulture Symposium at the Center on the Grove. Sponsored by the Lunaria League, the guest speakers will be Scott Calhoun of Tuscon and Susan Hurst of Des Moines. The date is February 4th, 2006. Mark your calendars. I will be posting more information about the speakers and the schedule.

The following weekend is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. One of the best garden shows in the nation, the show has 40 acres of fantastic gardens, great shopping, terrific speakers, and incredible timing. Just when you have had it up to your nose with Boise inversions, brown hills, snow or no snow, you can take a quick trip to Seattle to breathe in the tulips, hyacinths and daffodils and set your mind right again. Get more information at The show is February 8-12th, 2006. I suggest you go early in the week, be there by Wednesday and get out by Friday. The crowds are wild on the weekend. One of the best times to go is during the dinner hour. Reduced rates then as well.

Boise gets to shine with the Boise Flower and Garden Show in March. This year the show will be held March 24-26 at the Center on the Grove. The theme garden is titled “Boise’s Back Yard.” It will showcase the great life we live here with long long long summer nights, starry skies, great warm weather, and the latest in new plant materials and combos.

Still time for getting the bulbs in…..

I was shopping the Van Engelen/John Scheepers web site”” and in the website specials category, I found this wonderful combo called “Amazing Big Balloon Allium Special” which has 23 bulbs in a gorgeous combo for $53.95. Deer don’t like them. They range in size from 2 feet tall to 4 feet tall. Also take look at the Lemon Meringue Special Spring Collection. If you like yellow, this is a lovely combination……..already designed for you. 270 bulbs for about a hundred bucks plus shipping. Please do not add any bright red tulips to this. Makes my teeth hurt.

Note: John Scheepers sells small quantities of top notch bulbs ……more of a retail operation. Van Engelen sells high quality, large quantities of bulbs at wholesale prices. With Van Engelen you must place an order for $50 or more. Shipping is an additional 15%. These are some of the nicest bulbs you can buy anywhere.

And if you are still shopping for bulbs, check out Brent and Becky’s…….again, top size bulbs, incredible selection, great planting information. Go to

Idaho Weather: A History Lesson


I have copied the weather data from, for your viewing pleasure. NOAA is short for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In particular, this chart indicates the number of days the temperature was at zero degrees or below since 1990. And, while it doesn’t happen very often, you should be aware that it can, and probably will, drop below zero again. I offer this information because in the last 30 days I have heard we are in two different zones. We are either a zone 3A or we are zone 7. More than a little confusing to the new gardener, let alone this old gardener. Let’s discuss.

The Idaho Statesman published a special section, “Discover Treasure Valley” on October 30th. On page 60, it stated we are a zone 3a. Taking a guess, I believe that information probably came from the Sunset Western Garden Book. This is important: Sunset has their own ideas about zones- not part of the USDA program.

Prior to that, I heard a presentation where a gentleman proclaimed we have been upgraded to USDA Zone 7, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA designations are used by nurseries and landscape companies.

Here is the chart for days below zero:

1990-91 0 w- 0 8(-25) 6(-12) 14(-25)
1991-92 0 w+ 0 w+ 0 w+ 0 w+ 0
1992-93 0 w 0 w+ 1(0) w+ 0 w+ 1(0)
1993-94 0 w 1(0) 0 0 1(0)
1994-95 0 w+ 0 w 0 w 0 w 0

1995-96 0 0 c- 0 c- 0 c- 0
1996-97 0 0 0 0 0
1997-98 0 w+ 0 w+ 0 w+ 0 w+ 0
1998-99 0 2 c+ 0 c+ 0 c+ 2(-2)
1999-00 0 c 0 c+ 0 c+ 0 c+ 0

2000-01 0 0 0 0 0
2001-02 0 0 0 0 0
2003-04 0 w 0 w 0 w 0 w 0
2004-05 0 w- 0 w- 0 w- 0 0

totals 3[125] 88[125] 132[125] 64[125] 288[125]

averages .02 0.7 1.1 0.5 2.3

The chart indicates in 1990 we had 14 days below zero and the coldest day recorded was minus 25. I remember it and it was ugly. In 2004, we had zero days at or below zero.

Then, taking all these minimums into account, you should go take a look at the National Arboretum website, for the USDA Hardiness Zones and Average Annual Minimum Temperature Range. Go to for more information.

When you add and subtract all this, you will see that as late as 1990 we had a winter classified as a Zone 4b. During the winter of 2004-2005, we would probably have been a Zone 8. The coldest days were January 5-6 and a measley 16 degrees. And let me muddy this up a bit more – toss in some microclimates – those hot spots on the south side up against the foundation or the deadly cold pockets on the north side where the sun don’t shine from November until March. And did I mention the kiss of death? Bitter cold and drying winter winds.

Let me be the first to tell you I shake in my boots when I think about global warming. However, I think something else is going on and it would best be classified as foolhardy (not to be confused with cold hardy) and it is called “Zone Denial.”Not the same as “Zone Envy” which is what I have upon visiting any area that doesn’t get below freezing.

Why do you care? Well, maybe YOU don’t. But if you are buying plant material for your garden/yard/landscape, it helps to know what zone you are in. For those of you who are adventurous and have plenty of cash for plant acquisitions, you will want to try some camellias and black mondo grass. I, personally, stick with the idea that it hurts to lose a tree that cost $200. Not to mention the glaring hole it makes in the landscape when you have to yank it out. Yes, I have a deodora cedar that doesn’t really belong here. But before I installed it, I knew of 2 deodoras on State Street which had survived the winter of 1990. And yes, I have an agave on the back patio, under cover, that I can wrap in polar fleece should it get really nippy.

So, consider yourself warned.

Hello Idaho Gardeners

Welcome to Idaho Gardener.

The site is intended to be an informal clearinghouse for gardening information as it affects our intermountain/high desert region. Look for announcements of upcoming gardening events, thoughts and tips on conservation issues, educational opportunities, field trips and for our beloved plantaholics, notices of upcoming plant sales. (You know who you are.)

I am new to this act of “blogging” so bear with me as I pull the site together. I will make every attempt to keep the pages easy to use.

In the next post I hope to have figured out how to include links to favorite sites. If any of you are really hip to this blogging process, let me know. I could use a class or two on technique.

Mary Ann Newcomer