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The Garden Awakens

Anise 'Woodland Red' ( Illicium floridanum ) A few weeks ago, I thought spring would never arrive, but now the change is astonishing. The nights are still cold (40s and sometimes even 30s) so planting tender annuals and vegetables is unwise although I have already succumbed, but covering and uncovering things gets old quickly. Someone made a wise comment last week and I must agree with them - "Don't plant anything tender until after May 1". Several plants are blooming like never before. One is the Anise shrub (above and below). I don't know if the recent tree pruning, which is allowing more sun into the woodland path, is affecting it or perhaps it is just age, but I've never seen so many blooms. Michael refers to this as "the stinky fish shrub" and I have to admit to smell of the flowers is quite unpleasant. It is so beautiful that I can overlook that. The old pink dogwood tree, which was already here, shades our woodland path and it too is prett

Idaho Botanical Gardens, Boise, Idaho

The Idaho Botanical Garden is right next door to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary. It was once the farm and nursery for the penitentiary. When the prison closed in 1973, the grounds were unused until the botanical garden was established.

The garden comprises 50 acres (15 of which are in cultivation) in the Boise foothills and is divided into garden rooms and individual areas. There is an English Garden, xeric demonstration garden, alpine garden, children's garden, rose garden, meditation area, water garden, etc. Most of the plants in the garden are donated by industry and corporate partners  throughout Oregon and Idaho.

Parts of the garden run along the stone walls of the prison, giving a castle-like background to the plantings. 

The outer-lying areas of the garden are dedicated to native plants and wilderness trails. The Lewis & Clark Plant Native Plant Garden, opened in 2006,  commemorates the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806). This garden’s goal is to display 145 plant species collected during the expedition between Great Falls, Montana and The Dalles, Oregon. 

The fall color was astounding, especially with the vivid yellows and oranges of witch hazels, ornamental grasses and trees and bright red berries on pyracantha and hollies. 

The gardens also feature garden art by local artists.

The Rose Garden with the prison tower and walls as background.


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I love the wild feeling of this garden.

  2. So beautiful!! The colors are incredible! Thanks for sharing this trip!!

  3. We visited the Idaho Botanical Gardens in 2002(ish?), looks like a lot has changed and I would love to go back soon.

  4. Love the Switch Grasses (I believe) in the 4th photo. Mine looked kinda like that this year. Lovely.

    Aren't pyracanthas great? Wish they were a little less thorny, as I am an accident-prone klutz sometimes. I hear there are thornless (or less thorny) varieties, but apparently they are hard to find...

  5. Beautiful Phillip! Makes me want to go so bad. What a wonderful trip!

  6. I love all the sage and tawny tones.

  7. I love the shot of the pumpkin patch with the fall colors in the background, and the last one with the sculpture.


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