Things I was digging in 2008

Even if you kick your feet and scream NO! I’ll bet most of you do a teensy weensy bit of reflection on where you’ve been and where you are headed in the New Year. In January, I reviewed the trends, made up my mind and set off in 2008 to grow my own… lettuce, greens, tomatoes, berries, fruit and nuts.

Ken and Timm of the River Radio had me start the garden season on January 23 to talk the talk about growing your own food.

In February, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a Noah’s Ark for seeds, was open for business. A safe house for seeds from all over the planet, it has 4.5M seed samples. Protected by polar bears, armed guards and nasty cold, the vault has already withstood a 6.1 earthquake and can preserve seeds for 200 years even if the power goes out…..because of permafrost. I am guessing they calculated in global warming.

My small voice of thanks if offered up to the people who care about these issues, who work to protect our food supply and our horticultural heritage.

March was a great garden month for the Idaho Gardener. I had a chance to visit the ROCK (Alcatraz) with the head gardener for the Garden Conservancy program. They are restoring the prison gardens to their former glory in the middle of San Francisco Bay. On the same visit to San Francisco, a group of us stormed the Garden Show, dined at the Zuni Café, ate soft boiled eggs and toast at Café Fanny, ran into the enchanting Keeyla Meadows at breakfast which led to a happy-go-lucky tour of her unbelievable Berkeley garden. After a trip to the one and only Western Hills Nursery, we were able to stop at Cornerstone Gardens, an outdoor garden museum/art installation in the wine country.

In April the Austin Bloggers organized the first ever Spring Fling. We gathered in Austin to chat, learn, tour, eat, and carry on. What a good time we had! We saw lovely, stately, native, xeric, colorful, personal gardens for two days. We ate Texas barbeque, Mexican food, Texas Mar-tinis and ooohed and awed over the green roof at Starbucks.

Some wrote about the impending doom of the world food crisis and people eating mud pies in Haiti. In my little corner of the world I was carrying the banner and shouting the shout about growing and eating local food. This story line is still going strong as nurseries and seed companies reported a 40% spike in sales of veg seeds and seedlings. Grow it on America.

By May I was ready, once again, for a 12 step program for out of control plant buying. It overwhelms me every year. I did get the food program going on by planting more raspberries, lots of salad greens, 8 tomato plants, an apricot tree and a hazelnut tree.

The first week of June took me to North Idaho, my old stompin’ grounds, to the Palouse, and on up to Spokane for the Farm Chicks weekend, to Manitou Gardens with the former director, and back to Moscow to visit Mary Jane Butters. The trip was pure magic.

At the end of June, I was a Field Editor for a photo shoot for Garden Deck and Landscape Magazine (a special garden publication of Better Homes and Gardens). My pal Jeff Lightbody has created a gorgeous garden in the foothills of Boise. We spent two+ days with the art director, photographer and assistant, getting it all on film.

My raspberries were kickin’ in come July, but the air was disgusting (from the California wildfires) and I found myself sitting on the bottom of the reflecting pool chanting to keep the summer temps just a smidge below 105. Please, oh please, maybe even below 100.

My pal Debra arrived from LA and we took to the hills: the hills known as Sun Valley/Ketchum and the Wood River Valley. Debra’s new book had been out a couple of months, so we took wine and books to share, walked a dozen gardens, ate great food, and laughed ourselves silly.

Come August, I was barely hanging on, hoping it wouldn’t get blazin’ hot. I make another plea to Bring Back the Victory Garden while “little did I know” the economy was coming unraveled at the speed of heat. My garden was chugging along, one red tomato every two weeks. To keep myself entertained I set up the Gardening Olympics so my friends could compete for the gold.

On my very first trip to the wonderful Chi-town, Chicago, I sneaked over to the Lurie Garden at Millenium Park, not once, but twice. Living high on the hog.

September took me to Portland and the Garden Writers’ Annual Symposium. This event always rocks me to the core. Seven hundred or so writers showed up to be shown a good time in the City of Roses. A grand time was had by all. The highlight may have been the Chorus of the Goddess Flora. They brought down the house.

O is for October and Official and I became an O-fficial gardening examiner for, a new internet news service. Check me out at

I created the not-entirely-official list of banned plants for the state of Idaho. So sue me. Better yet, take away my birthday.

In November, we had the immense good sense to elect a brilliant man to the White House. Things were looking up in my mind while winding down in the garden. I took a day to go to the Horticulture Symposium to listen to the wisdom of David Salman of High Country Gardens. Well worth every minute and dollar.

A big collection of heirloom pumpkins and squash made up a two month display (yes, it was EDIBLE) at the front door of Ranch duBois, home of your faithful Idaho Gardener.

Which brings us to December, just past the solstice, and the third snowiest December on record. There is a rumor goin’ round that the Obama White House may have a kitchen garden. How exciting and forward thinking is that? Stay tuned and stick with me as we continue the wild ride through the garden world in 2009 and beyond.