The Owyhee Mountains are located in high altitude Intermountain desert where sagebrush and lava rock are aplenty. It is a rugged area and you can tell this by taking a quick visual scan of the landscape.
The aura of the western frontiersmen still feels strong here. Horses reign, cattle are abundant and cowboys and cowgirls live a good life. However, despite all of this rough-hewn scenery there is another type living in these mountains. A gardening type…in fact a gardener extraordinaire!
Carol, the gardener extraordinaire, has staked her ground at almost five thousand feet of elevation.
She has created a most beautiful garden surrounding her home that serves as a visual oasis for all passers-by. It is not uncommon for someone to stop in just to comment on her lovely gardens. And it’s interesting to note that in this rugged, masculine environment, it is usually men that comment on her garden’s beauty.
She works tirelessly year after year creating gorgeous garden beds all the while battling wind, late season frosts, hail storms, ultra-dry air, rodents, cow dogs and rattlesnakes! Not only does this gardener have to decide which plant will work where but also has to make sure a dog won’t make a bed out of it or that a rattlesnake isn’t under it once it gets growing! Remember, you gotta be tough!
Carol’s gardening season is a short three months (maximum 100 days) in a USDA Zone 4, Sunset Zone 1A climate. These parameters mean the winter lows average 0°-11° and extremes can range from -25° to -40° not counting wind chill. When the heat comes on it shoots up quickly and can sometimes stay in the 90’s for a significant part of the growing season.
Carol’s watering system which is very important for those couple of months of hot weather consists of hoses and a few old-style sprinklers. Nothing automatic in this neck of the woods!
The upside to a high-desert garden? You know there always is one…the air is fresh and clear and the water clean with good minerals. Plus the soil is fertile and if given a chance plants like to grow here!
Take a tour of Carol’s garden with me. Here are some of my all-time favorite shots with an extended gallery below.
Carol is one of the most inspirational gardeners I’ve had a chance to know. Her passion combined with admirable traits such as tenacity, dedication, patience, hope, humour and forgiveness have enabled her to create a luscious plot in this untamed, wild west kingdom. Carol knows what it takes to get something to grow strong in some of the most unpredictable, ever-changing environments.
You may wonder how I know Carol exercised all of these traits to grow her garden…Well, that’s easy… for you see she also exercised them growing her family… Carol is my mom! Happy Wild Owyhee Mountain Gardening Mom!