2014 Gardener’s Gift Guide – Find Gardening Inspiration Here!

It’s Cyber-Monday and that means the Holiday gift-giving season is really starting to roll. Thanksgiving is a distant memory although there may still be leftovers in the fridge… It is inevitable that your attention will become more and more focused on gift-giving in the coming days and lucky for you, I’ve put together a gardener gift guide including practical, posh and just plain fun gift ideas.

Sure, these are my personal choices (I have no special ties with any of these vendors) but I’ve been dabbling at the green arts for 18 years – long enough to know about some things that can put excitement and happiness on a gardener’s face!  Take a look, even if only for inspiration. Besides, you might even find something for your own “wish list.” :)

Rubber Boots - Gardeners love rubber boots! They are handy because they slip on and off very quickly and easily.  A top choice to wear during the muddy days of spring and the cold days of winter when running out to the compost pile, the garage or even the mailbox.  In the fall, they are perfect for working in the moistened soil during clean up and provide some protection from spiders or wasps that might think about crawling up a pant leg. Here’s two good choices and these companies offer both mens and womans footwear.  Hunter Gardener Boots, $135 (us.hunterboots.com) Breezy Mid Muck Boot, $114.95 (www.muckbootcompany.com)


More styles and colors available. The gardener boot features a dig plate and ankle wear patch for working in the garden.



Many more styles and colors available through their website.

Pruners - Every gardener NEEDS a smooth operating pair of hand pruners. These clippers need to be highly durable and comfortable to grip because they are used so often.  Hand pruners are used to shape plants, deadhead, remove damaged growth and cut back perennials.  Felco’s bypass type pruners are highly recommended and worth the investment in my opinion. The company offers a life-time limited warranty if you purchase from the online Felco Store. Felco 2 Pruner, $47.43 (www.felcostore.com)

FELCO 2 copya

The company offers a variety of bypass style pruners. Even specially designed versions for lefties.

glassybaby - Bring a warm light and a warm feeling to a gardener this season with a beautiful hand-made votive.  Seattle-based glassybaby employs local glass artists to create colorful votives whose names such as, ‘cabo’ and ‘skinny dip’, evoke personal memories. It is noteworthy (and in the spirit of giving) that 10% of each glassybaby purchased is donated to a corresponding charity. $44 (glassybaby.com)



 Steel Life Loft Mod Dish - Just because it’s winter, doesn’t mean gardeners give up plants!  They like to always have a little something growing and this gorgeous tabletop planter is the perfect thing for succulents and/or air plants that are all the rage.  From Bend, Oregon, this planter line features up cycled steel that is powder coated for vibrant colors and durability.  (Rubber footings to protect your surface are included.) $139 (www.shopsteellife.com)


Gift Certificate to Local Nursery – Although gift certificates sometimes have a reputation of being generic and thoughtless, that is NOT what gardeners think.  Getting a gift certificate to a local nursery in the off-season is truly a treat, for as the garden changes each year, so does a gardener’s needs. Trust me, gardeners adore going to a nursery at the beginning of a new growing season with a gift card riding in their hip pocket.  A must-have will be found!


For Local Readers:

Edwards Greenhouse (4106 Sand Creek St., Boise)

Farwest Landscape Garden Center (5728 W. State St., Boise)

Franz Witte (9770 W. State St., Boise)

Madeline George Design Nursery (10550 W. Hill Rd. Pkwy, Boise)

Zamzow’s (various locations in Treasure Valley)

Trip to Northwest Flower and Garden Show – It’s nice to get a break from winter and a great place for most gardeners to do that is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (NWFGS) in Seattle. This five-day February event heralds the upcoming arrival of spring with an entire acre of show gardens displaying the latest trends in gardening and outdoor living.  The show’s Marketplace is a great place to stock up on bulbs and plants, fun garden accessories and tools.  The NWFGS is also known for its free seminars with horticulture experts from around the country. A favorite thing about this event is that it is located in downtown Seattle.  Once you have your fill of garden delight, wonderful shopping, eating and city exploration is just steps away!   The show website has info on hotels that offer special rates and are an easy walk to the show.  Show tickets can be purchased through the website as well. (www.gardenshow.com)


February 11-15, 2015

Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Handbook - Like the title suggests, this is a  gardener’s go-to-guide if living in the Rocky Mountains or Intermountain West.  Co-written by Boise’s very own Mary Ann Newcomer and Denver’s John Cretti, this book is chock-full of gardening know-how. It includes specific sections on annuals, bulbs & rhizomes, edibles, ground covers, lawn & ornamental grasses, perennials, roses, shrubs, deciduous trees & conifers and vines. Serious levels of plant information reside in this book, including how to plant, grow and care for your selections. $24.99 Available at Amazon.com 


Potlifter - This is the perfect tool for folks that do a lot of container gardening and need to move pots in and out of shelter. It is a huge backsaver as it enables two people to work together and comfortably lift and move large pots or other heavy objects. The potlifter can be used to lift objects up to 200 lbs and up to 7 ft in circumference.  $29.99 Available at Amazon.com or paletrading.com

Potlifter 20x500

Deluxe Manicure – Manicures are not commonplace for many a gardener since they always have their hands in the dirt or are using them to pinch, pluck or pull out something. However, a gift to pamper and polish those hard-working hands in the off-season may be just the thing for the gardener that has everything.  Available in your local area. Prices starting around $25.


Fall Gardening: It’s all about that base, er… those bulbs!

One of the more fetching things (or shall I say people) I learned of during the garden show season last March, was a Dutch woman who has mastered a fresh approach to planting bulbs in the garden.  Jacqueline van der Kloet doesn’t do the standard daffodil/tulip thing – which is to plant  intense, monochromatic clumps of a single cultivar to provide a “spot of color,” that is gone in a few weeks with lots of boring foliage left behind. Instead, she frees up bulbs, unleashes them from the cluster and integrates them in a more naturalistic manner that can truly showcase their collective beauty.


Photo courtesy of BBC

Now who out of us gardeners, doesn’t want a spring wonderland brimming with naturalistic rhythm and enchantment?  When the temps begin to climb out of the freezing zone and a bit of rain falls, we crave the signs of new life and our desire for naturalistic gardens is at its highest.  The “proof” of this craving is the multitude of blog posts, instagram photos and tweets sharing the “glory” of the first Snowdrop! (Galanthus nivalis)

Although Ms. van der Kloet is a world-class garden designer, working on projects for the New York Botanical Garden, Chicago’s Millennium Park and famous gardens in Europe, her designs are not just for public spaces where plant material is changed every few months.


Seasonal Walk at NYBG; Photo Courtesy of Jardins Sans Secret

Her design style embodies longevity.  Van der Kloet takes into consideration many types of flowering bulbs as well as perennial kin and her method can be carried out in a big or small space, making them oh so suitable for us home gardeners!

But here’s the thing…to implement some of Ms. van der Kloet’s signature style, we must think beyond tulips and daffodils.  One of van der Kloet’s convictions is that there are many under-used bulbs that can be combined with favorites for a more lengthy, multi-dimensional spring-flowering show. For example, small flowering bulbs such as Chionodoxa and anemone bland can provide a layered effect when blooming with tulips, hyacinths and mid-season daffodils.  They create an interesting understory for the well-known “stars.”


Fritillaria meleagris; Photo courtesy of wikipedia


Erythronium; Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fritillaria and Erythronium or trout lilies are most likely on her short list of under-used specimens.  Species tulips too.

The main idea is to think about how spring bulbs can be used together to create an interesting tapestry of flowers and textures.  For a small space, it is recommended to use around three varieties in a spring bulb palette and in larger spaces up to seven varieties.  Color, height, bloom time and length, as well as sun exposure should be considered when making selections.

Spring blooming perennials are part of a van der Kloet-inspired design and plants like aubretia, creeping phlox, cerastium, hardy geraniums, euphorbia, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, etc… add more color and texture to the wonderland.

The really fun part of her design method comes when it’s time to plant.  (Even kids will enjoy this activity.)  The bulb selections are all mixed together and then tossed by handfuls in the space where they are to be planted. The bulbs are planted at the appropriate depth based on the growing requirements but this style of “sprinkling” proves to yield a natural, appealing result.

bulbsSo last week, before the snow fell and I mean right before it fell, (a couple of hours between my freezing hands and the first snowflake!) I mixed together the bulbs of my Dutch inspired design.  I then tossed them in my front bed and started planting.  Here are my selections:

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humbles 'Magenta Queen', Crocus 'Ard Shenk', Narcissus 'Tete A Tete', Tulip 'Purple Prince', Fritillaria persica

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humilis ‘Magenta Queen’, Crocus ‘Ard Schenk’, Narcissus ‘Tete A Tete’, Tulip ‘Purple Prince’, Fritillaria persica

As you can see, I didn’t give up hybrid tulips.  (I could never do that!) But, I did incorporate a species tulip.  Some of these lesser known tulips such as kaufmanniana, greigii or humilis bloom quite early and offer pretty, mottled foliage.

I’m hoping to achieve a layering of color and interest that starts in March and holds interest until the large perennials (iris and large hardy geraniums) begin to bloom in mid-May.  It’s an experiment that going to be fun to see especially since my craving for springtime wonder will be at its highest!

But for now, everything is tucked away under a thick blanket of snow.



How about you?  Do you plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden?  If so, what is your method?  Have you heard of Ms. van der Kloet and her designs before?






The Fall Garden, Both Fun and Fierce

Much time has passed since my last post on the August garden and during that time subtle changes each day have led to the arrival of –  “The Fall Garden.”

The Fall Garden is both fun and fierce.  There are many joyous events taking place as the end of a long growing season arrives, yet much fierce growth and work is still in process.  For the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting the fall garden form a fun and fierce perspective.  Join me to see if you can relate to my garden musings during this fabulous season.

One of the more fun things happening now is the ripening and picking of apples. I have two apple trees (Gala and Fuji) and they have been grown in an espalier style for 4-5 years. This year has been a great year of production and loosely counting I will get about 170 apples from the two trees combined.  Yipee! Because there have been years where I only get about 20 apples from the two trees!  Actually, I am learning that it is pretty normal for  apple trees to yield large harvests every other year.  Do you experience this if you grow apples?

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I got my girls out to help do some picking one Sunday morning and they got a bit silly but it was fun!  Notice they could easily reach everything…one of the big benefits to espaliering fruit trees. Easy access to all parts of the tree.

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fallgarden1If you are wondering what the little white things are hanging in the tree they are pheromone traps that can be used to monitor adult coddling moth activity.  Once an adult coddling moth gets stuck in the trap, you know there is activity and can choose a method to prevent the coddling moths from attacking your apples, basically making them filled with worms.  To learn more about apple codling moth and how to protect your apples (or pears) click here.  Overall, I have found it pretty easy to use pheromone traps and then spray spinosad 2-3 times throughout the season (starting when fruits are at least a couple of inches in size)  to effectively control coddling moth.  Of course, using an insecticide is  a serious decision for most home gardeners and I get it if you are opposed to this technique.  To be fair, here is a link to more info about Spinosad as an approved, organic control method in agriculture as well as a link to organic control of codling moths. 

Now for a little fierceness…who is out there growing tomatoes and not in battle with them to save whatever is in their path from being swallowed completely?! This could even be your home if you have a tiny space!  This self-seeded ‘Sungold’ tomato (or parent of a Sungold, since it is a hybrid) found it’s way over to my clematis trellis and has “trellised” itself!

From this -


To this –  In just a few weeks!


Yes, the tomato growth is fierce right now in my zone 6 garden. I go out every couple of days and cut back the most offensive new growth while harvesting a good-size bowl of tasty fruits.

fallgarden2This year during ‘tomato overload time’  I’ve decided all I can do is feel lucky to have so many tasty ways to eat them!  I am not stressing about getting them all picked and making batches and batches of spaghetti sauce.  Instead, I am giving some to family and friends and using them nightly in dinner preparation via salads, pasta sauce and a few other tasty recipes.

fallgard3fallgard4 In a few more weeks as freezing temps get close, I may reach the level of spaghetti-sauce making or maybe I’ll just donate to the food bank instead. Hmmm…maybe both.

One more fun event in my fall garden is the heirloom roses  (‘The Impressionist’ and ‘Louise Clements’, both from Heirloom Roses) are finally putting out glorious, long-lasting blooms.  They have a hard time keeping any blooms on (they wither in a day) in the 90-100+ degree days of summer, but as soon as the heat wanes they bring forth some beautiful color that lasts!



How about you?  What is fun and fierce in your Fall garden?


Hot Color In The August Garden

Ooohh, there is hot color in the garden right now! Both blooms and bounty are shades of red, orange and yellow with a measure of plum and violet thrown into the mix.

My garden has been a delight (for the most part) this year. I’ve enjoyed much of the ornamental garden and have a smaller “change order” list than usual for this fall. Of course, I garnered new inspirations over the summer, especially during the Portland Garden Blogger’s Fling, and will be adding and subtracting plants but overall, I like what I see!

Certain insects such as earwigs, aphids and cabbage loopers have been more of a nuisance than usual but I’m thinking this is because there hasn’t been a freeze since March and there’s been a bit more moisture than usual. My suspicion is what makes for a good growing season makes for a good bug season too!

I’ve been away much of the summer so haven’t captured as much of the garden as I would like, but being away and coming back to see the change has been a pleasure. I’ve learned that some areas can get along beautifully without me, while others are in true need of my daily puttering to keep things in order. And, there’s always that batch of summer sprouting weeds that tries to claim King over the land, but I was home just enough to win that war!

The edible garden is booming right now with lots of tomatoes and raspberries to harvest every few days. Pole beans are coming on and all of the red potatoes, carrots and garlic have been harvested. Lots of food pics and maybe some recipes to come…. But for now, enjoy some color during these dog days of summer.


The Bounty

Aug collage

The Blooms


Kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’


Hudson Valley Zinnias


Color in new front garden…





Hips of Rosa pomifera


Unknown Orienpet lily. Not as hot but I still find a warmth in it!


And, a bit of violet to mix up the palette! This is phlox paniculata ‘Nicky’ paired with some ornamental stakes that I finally placed.

How about you? How has your garden grown this summer? Do you have a favorite plant blooming this August?

At My Kitchen Sink – Orienpet Lily ‘Silk Road’

I love lilies, many types.  And after my recent trip to Portland, Oregon for the Garden Blogger’s Fling, (#gbfling14) I love them even more!  Many of these premier gardens featured the most beautiful lilies I’ve seen.  I can’t wait to add more to my garden…

But in this moment, I’m enjoying Orienpet lily ‘Silk Road’ from B &D Lilies.  I cut this beautiful stem so that I could enjoy it up close and personal throughout the day.  The fragrance fills the rooms of my main living area but is not overpowering after a couple of days.

How about you?  Do you love lilies?

silkrd1 silkrd3 silkrd5

2014 Boise Garden Tour – The Finale – See It Here!

The June Boise Garden Tour is always a delight!  And I’m not the only one that thinks so because it has been going for 28 years! This is a wonderful way to get out and see what is growing locally under the hand of home gardeners and professional designers.

This is my final post detailing this year’s tour and with this I provide a look at the last two fine gardens.  (They were fifth and sixth on my route.)  If you would like to see the other gardens of the tour click:  Garden 1, Garden 2, Gardens 3 and 4.

Garden #5

Fun and Floriferous! There is loads of flower power at this garden (you see it as soon as the home comes into view) and I love it!  This garden keeper is a kindred spirit when it comes to the notion “there need be no bare spots – no “dirt” showing!”

This cottage-style garden is packed in both the front and back with bright, colorful plantings that “pop” even under a brilliantly shining sun.  The plants look extremely healthy and happy and you can tell this garden has been a vibrant place for years.

Nancy Day is the home owner/garden keeper here and she also owns a garden business called Cottage Gardeners Inc.  As you can see she really walks the walk of cottage-style gardening! It is so very cool to see that she not only creates gardens for others, but holds such a passion for plants, she has created an amazing garden of her own to enjoy!

I really loved looking at the plants in this garden.  In talking with Nancy, she shared one of her secrets –  compost, compost, compost!  O.K. maybe not so much of a secret to us gardeners, but a great reminder that you can never really add too much compost to soil that is low in organic matter. :)

There are SO many great things to see in Nancy’s garden, please take a tour at your leisure and then let me know what stands out to you.

The Front Garden:


The Back Garden:

 Last but certainly not least!  Garden #6 

One of the things that is so much fun about the Boise Garden tour is seeing first-hand the great diversity of garden styles. It is lovely to see how people enjoy a garden in so many different ways although they can be located in close physical proximity.  Gardens #3-6 were all within walking distance to each other.

This last garden on my route was in my opinion by far the most modern and on-point with current trends.  You could see a garden of this style at one of the infamous garden shows this year.  (Northwest Flower & Garden Show, San Francisco Flower & Garden Show)

The infrastructure really stands out, especially the use of stone.  A definite urban vibe is picked up, but overall, I feel a thoughtful, peaceful, restorative ambiance.  Take a tour of this urban oasis and see if you are drawn in the way I was.

The front garden is lush with trees and shade plantings somewhat concealing a stylistic modern residence.

BGTH6colI absolutely love the rain chain design and since I’m adding two new rain chains to my own back garden, I may just have to implement this idea.

Here is a shot showing the mixed use of stone in the front area.  This continues in the back garden. Love that curved stone wall!


Walking into the back garden  you see an inviting patio area, a quiet water feature and a simple fire pit for two.  I found the design easy on the eyes and I love the combination of urban and natural worlds with the use of rock, cement, iron and wood.





In keeping with current trends, this outdoor space is not only a place to relax, it is productive and bountiful.  Look at this awesome raised veggie plot!  These gardeners know how to get an early start on the edible season.  I’m sure this soil begins to warm quickly in the spring.


Not only do they grow veggies, the garden keepers grow a couple of types of berries too. Look at this cool trellis/fence design.


Here is a shot of the homeowner/garden keeper/landscape architect that came up with the vision for this wonderful space.  His business is Ivy Design and I’m thinking if you live locally and are looking for a professional that is well-versed in current garden design this is a connection for you. :)


And now take a look at some of the artful plant highlights of this garden. They definitely soften the space adding to the relaxing feel.


I’ll end with a favorite shot of the curved rock walls that were such a stand out feature of the front and back gardens.  Love them, want them!


Thank you to all my readers who have taken a look at the private gardens of Boise, Idaho.  I hope you have come away with some great ideas to add to your garden spaces and a feel for our great garden community.

Thank you to Idaho Botanical Garden for making the garden tour happen and for hosting many  fun and educational events throughout the year!


2014 Boise Garden Tour – See It Here! (Gardens 3 & 4)

The Boise Garden Tour happened a few days ago.  It was a fun day seeing lots of different styles of gardening in our lovely, livable city.  Click to see Garden #1 and Garden #2.

Today’s post features the third and fourth gardens on my route.

Here is a look at Garden #3.

I would describe this garden as quaint and very merry.  Lots of colorful, classic, cottage-style plants greet passersby from behind a white picket fence in the front garden.


Stepping in, one of the first things to catch my eye was this cute stake system.


Next, I was drawn into the delightful vegetable plaza that ocated between the front and back gardens. Look at that lettuce!


Near the vegetable plaza, I noticed these cute plant/object creations. Looks like lots of fun happens here in the veggie plaza area!


Next, I walk into the back garden and see lots of color, along with places to have a seat and a drink!  And not just for adults!  Check out that cute sand box for kids!


I didn’t get a chance to visit with the garden keepers here but I know they are artists.  In fact, they have a small pottery studio. Here is a shot of the entrance to the studio.


These beautiful glass garden ornaments are also part of their artistry.  The colors are exquisite.


Ahhh, very nice.  I went away with a little extra spring in my step as this garden seems to percolate happiness and good cheer!

Now, for a look at Garden #4

As we arrived at this little bungalow I noticed how lush green textures seem to hug the front of the residence in such a charming manner. The lavender just ready to bloom looked splendid!


Walking around the front to a gate leading into the backyard, I saw this great custom iron trellis with climbing hydrangeas growing on them.  Love the design and scale!


Once inside the entrance there is a long narrow bed and a path leading to the back garden.  I saw this awesome plant along the way and the garden keeper told me the name but I am unsure I remembered it accurately.  I believe it is a type of Hydrangea, maybe ‘Vanilla Strawberry.’ If someone definitely knows this plant, please comment.  I would like to know.


Once in the back garden I found it so intimate and restorative.  The large boulders designed in a semi-circular pattern combined with the mature-looking plantings exude privacy and beckon one to sit for a bit or awhile.  This area has a very natural vibe giving you the feeling of a private peaceful spot in the forest.  I loved the stone (both large and small) chosen for this area and the unassuming fire pit as well.


BGTHouse429Walking a bit further I came to a cushy, patio dining area, a gorgeous fountain and some other lush, simple plantings.  Notice how even the BBQ is camouflaged by lush green plantings.  Love it!



I loved this small garden with it’s natural ambiance and intimate mood. Although it was organic in feel, it was packed with modernities we love to enjoy such as an outdoor eating space, a BBQ, fire pit and even a hot tub. I could have spent a lot more time here but I knew more gardens were waiting.

My friend, Kecia Carlson (owner of Madeline George Design Nursery) , worked with the garden keeper/home owner to create this lovely sanctuary.  My hat is off to the two of them as I feel it turned out wonderfully rich and a perfect complement to the home. Bravo ladies!

How about you?  Do you like seeing the diversity of garden style?  Do you have a specific garden style?

Stay tuned for Garden #5 and #6 coming soon.  Happy Gardening!