Plantoids at the Garden

Idaho Botanical Garden hosted the Plantoids Robotics Workshop


In an unusual pairing of robotics and horticulture, the Idaho Botanical Garden hosted the Plantoids Robotics Workshop. Plantoids are simple robot creatures that allow a plant to move, explore, look for food, and even ask for a drink of water. These plant cyborgs help us to better understand the relationship that technology has with nature.

The Plantoids Robotic Workshop took place in the spring of 2017, and was made possible by a grant from the Idaho STEM Action Center. Dave Ultis of Citizen Scientific created the workshop and agreed to partner with the Garden. He was inspired to develop plantoids because “the idea of a carnivorous, cybernetic plant experiment just seemed like a really fun concept that had a lot of great practical outcomes in terms of the hardware platform and new concepts for robotics. I saw how some really intriguing sciences are performed with plant signaling and I wanted to make my robots perform a series of experiments that start simply and work through building more complex systems a bit at a time.”

The plantoid chassis are laser cut plastic components connected by zip ties. Participants had to master “Zip Tie Fu.” Dave shares that zip ties are the perfect connector system: “both a permanent and temporary solution to anything, being able to become an instant fix while being able to be taken out of service quickly without making a mess.” With little more than a screwdriver and wire cutters, the robots took shape. Workshop participants constructed the plantoid chassis, added a battery pack and sensors, and then integrated the butterwort plant host. This was the first robot and terrarium for several participants. Dave said, “The camp was incredibly fun because we were doing a new approach. We were blazing a trail for robotics in the Garden.”

Workshop participants used a basic kit from Citizen Scientific Workshop (the Medulla Oblong Bota Arduino Nano Breakout Kit) in the creation of their plantoids.
Sensors connected to the kit allow each plantoid to react to specific stimuli. The robot monitors temperature, light, and moisture, and is programmed to seek out optimum living conditions, moving along on treads. Participants programmed their plantoids, setting variables for optimum living conditions.

This first plantoids workshop resulted in robots buzzing around the classroom at the Garden! Several builders replaced the treads with wheels and experimented with the sensor variables. Dave shared that he was encouraged by how quickly the builders “became comfortable with solving problems and beginning to have their own ideas on how to optimize and tune their robots. “Everyone was super enthusiastic. It had an engaged community feel to it.”

INCLUDED IN THE PLANTOIDS BASE KIT ARE: Soil moisture sensor, Air temperature and humidity sensor, Ambient light sensor, Air quality sensor, RGB LED, & Speaker


Dave believes that such projects can engage a wide range of people, allowing “everyone to participate in the sciences starting at a beginner level.” In his Kickstarter campaign for Citizen Scientific, Dave also shares some practical wisdom, pointing out that “plantoids are living beings, which meansthey can …meet an unfortunate end. In fact, they are guaranteed to expire at some time, just like all things. It may not happen for weeks, months, or years, it could very well happen to your plantoid tomorrow when your little brother launches it down the stairs. The key is science and through all experiments in science, something can be learned.”

You may soon see plantoids at gardens around the United States. Citizen Scientific conducted a Kickstarter campaign that featured an “Adopt a Garden: Plantoid Workshop” pledge level. As part of its recent Kickstarter campaign, Citizen Scientific has pledged to host plantoid workshops in public gardens located near project donors. These workshops are planned for 2018, though locations have not yet been announced.

After shipping the initial batch of plantoid kits from the recent Kickstarter campaign, Dave plans to release an ecosystem for Plantoids with new lessons and types of robots, as well as an app that integrates the Plantoid environment with augmented effects driven by the data it collects.

Richard Mussler-Wright
Member Relations Coordinator, Idaho Botanical Garden


Focus on Early Childhood

Project Learning Tree – Professional Development Workshop

Focus on Early Childhood – March 16-17, 2018

Friday, 4:30-8:30 pm. Saturday, 8:30 am–3:30 pm with Idaho Botanical Garden

This class features PLT’s Environmental Experiences for Early Childhood activity guide (recipient of Learning Magazine’s Teachers Choice Award) aimed at learners ages 3-7. PLT activities integrate nature-based exploration, art, literature, math, music and movement, STEM and outdoor play into early childhood education pro-grams. “Family & Friends” activities provided in both English and Spanish. FUN!

DOWNLOAD REGISTRATION FORM HERE. To guarantee your place, send the $40 workshop fee with a copy of this sheet to PLT, 350 N 9th St., #102, Boise ID, 83702. (Fee refunded if you cancel at least one week before the workshop.) We will send you a memo with workshop details. You’ll sign up for Idaho STARS hours and/or university credit (if applicable) at the workshop.




Idaho Botanical Garden Releases Statement on City of Boise’s Planned 2017 Concert Series

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            

Contact: Erin Anderson

October 17, 2016     (208) 275-8609

Idaho Botanical Garden Releases Statement on City of Boise’s Planned 2017 Concert Series

BOISE, ID – The Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG) today responded to the announcement that the City of Boise plans to host a summer concert series in a City park during the summer of 2017. IBG released the following statement:

For nine years, the Idaho Botanical Garden has provided quality musical entertainment to the Boise community through the Garden’s Outlaw Field Concert Series®. Through our experience, we have developed an understanding of the requirements and the best practices for producing a truly fantastic concert experience for our patrons. Along the way, we are proud to say that we have developed Outlaw Field into Boise’s best outdoor concert venue.

Recently, it has come to our attention that the City of Boise intends to produce a new concert series in a city park. The Garden opposes the City’s plan to use taxpayer dollars and our taxpayer-funded public parks for restricted-access, for-profit events that serve only to displace park users and limit access to some of Boise’s greatest treasures.

Holding a closed event in a public park for private gain is antithetical to the purpose public parks serve. Furthermore, it is specifically prohibited within Boise City Code. Title 5, Chapter 10 states, “City Code restricts the sale and advertisement of goods and services in city parks. The City of Boise chooses to maintain public parks as open space accessible to all residents and visitors (no admission charges are permitted).” Therefore, it is our interpretation that public parks should be open for access by the taxpayers who fund them, rather than used as sources of profit for private companies and for the City of Boise.

“While we understand that it may not be the intent of the City of Boise to negatively impact the financial stability of the Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG), it is not possible for a small nonprofit organization such as IBG to compete with the resources and the subsidization of a concert series hosted at a City park,” said Erin Anderson, Executive Director, Idaho Botanical Garden. “The Outlaw Field Concert Series is a large part of IBG’s funding. The City’s proposed entry into competition will put our organization’s sustainability at risk and take away vital funds to support our mission as well as the programs and services that we provide in our community.  Rather than engage in this competition, we urge the City of Boise to reconsider their intent to support concert series in a public park this summer.”

Proceeds from the Idaho Botanical Garden’s 2017 Outlaw Field Concert Series will support the efforts to restore Table Rock following the 2016 fire. The funds will be used to rebuild and regrow the fragile ecosystem that is a much loved and integral part of the Boise community. By strengthening our partnership with the City of Boise, we can continue to make what is already a great concert series even better and provide additional funding towards restoration efforts at Table Rock.

About the Idaho Botanical Garden: Founded in 1984 and located in Boise’s Old Penitentiary Historic District, the Idaho Botanical Garden seeks to enhance the human experience in the landscape, with a particular focus on plants native to or sustainable in the intermountain region of the Rocky Mountains. The Garden is dedicated to enhancing our community’s quality of life through fostering a love of nature and developing intellectual curiosity in people of all ages. The Garden provides enriching garden experiences through educational programs, botanical collections, a variety of entertainment, cultural, and community events. Each year, the Garden invites the community to a variety of events that highlight the Garden through music, art, and seasonal celebrations. The Garden, an independent, private, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, is located on 33 acres leased from the State of Idaho.



Idaho Botanical Garden Hires Erin Guerricabeitia as Executive Director

BOISE, ID – The Idaho Botanical Garden (IBG) today announced the hiring of Erin Guerricabeitia as the new IBG Executive Director. Guerricabeitia will be responsible for overseeing all of the Garden’s daily operations, member services, programming, events, and horticultural efforts. Guerricabeitia will also be charged with growing current and cultivating new sources of financial support for the Garden, acting as a liaison between Board and staff, and implementing the strategic and master plans for Garden programs and capital development.

Until now, Guerricabeitia has served as the Executive Director of the Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) and the Foothills Learning Center under the City of Boise. Guerricabeitia has over ten years of experience in nonprofit management, including fundraising and budgeting, staff development, and strategic planning. Guerricabeitia is also an active community volunteer and is currently the President of Junior League of Boise.

“I am so pleased to welcome Erin on behalf of the Idaho Botanical Garden staff, board, and volunteers,” said Sonya Lenzi, President of the IBG Board of Directors. “We are excited to have someone with such a strong background in education and fundraising come to lead us at the Garden. We can only imagine the amazing directions in which we will grow.”

“I am pleased and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the talented board, staff, and volunteers at this exceptional organization,” said incoming IBG Executive Director Erin Guerricabeitia. “The Idaho Botanical Garden has a rich history of providing outstanding garden experiences through botanical collections, educational programming, and a variety of cultural and community events. I look forward to helping the Garden grow.”

About the Idaho Botanical Garden: Founded in 1984 and located in Boise’s Old Penitentiary Historic District, the Idaho Botanical Garden seeks to enhance the human experience in the landscape, with a particular focus on plants native to or sustainable in the intermountain region of the Rocky Mountains. The Garden is dedicated to enhancing our community’s quality of life through fostering a love of nature and developing intellectual curiosity in people of all ages. The Garden provides enriching garden experiences through educational programs, botanical collections, a variety of entertainment, cultural, and community events. Each year, the Garden invites the community to a variety of events that highlight the Garden through music, art, and seasonal celebrations. The Garden, an independent, private, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, is located on 33 acres leased from the State of Idaho.



Idaho Botanical Garden to Host Celebration for New Entrance Garden on September 20th

BOISE, ID – The Idaho Botanical Garden will host a celebration for its new entrance garden on Tuesday, September 20th at 10:00 a.m. The new entrance garden was created by Franz Witte Landscaping with help from Cloverdale Nursery, Bark Blowers, Monrovia Growers, Silver Creek Irrigation Supply, Skagit Gardens, Jensen-Belts, and Jeff Hartmann Designs. The ceremony will be followed by an open house from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. during which admission to the Garden will be free. Coffee and muffins will also be provided.

Who:               Idaho Botanical Garden

What:             Celebration of the new entrance garden & open house

When:             Tuesday, September 20th, 2016 – 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT

Where:           Idaho Botanical Garden 2355 Old Penitentiary Rd., Boise

Media:            Credentialed members of the media are invited to attend. Direct questions to Jennifer Dunmire at or (208) 275-8603.

About the Idaho Botanical Garden: Founded in 1984 and located in Boise’s Old Penitentiary Historic District, the Idaho Botanical Garden seeks to enhance the human experience in the landscape, with a particular focus on plants native to or sustainable in the intermountain region of the Rocky Mountains. The Garden is dedicated to enhancing our community’s quality of life through fostering a love of nature and developing intellectual curiosity in people of all ages. The Garden provides enriching garden experiences through educational programs, botanical collections, a variety of entertainment, cultural, and community events. Each year, the Garden invites the community to a variety of events that highlight the Garden through music, art, and seasonal celebrations. The Garden, an independent, private, 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, is located on 33 acres leased from the State of Idaho.



2017 Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series RFP

The Idaho Botanical Garden is currently accepting proposals to promote and produce the 2017 Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series®. This will be the tenth consecutive season for the Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series®. The Idaho Botanical Garden has been the site of over 85 concerts in the past nine years representing various musical genres.

This RFP will close 5PM MDT, Friday, September 9, 2016 and a decision will be made by Friday, September 30, 2016.

The purpose of this Request for Proposal is to solicit proposals from various concert promoters. Based on proposals received, IBG will conduct a fair and extensive evaluation based on the criteria listed herein, and select the candidate which best represents a partner for the Idaho Botanical Garden in 2017.

View Complete RFP








DOWNERS GROVE, IL – October 27, 2015 – In 2012, All-America Selections (AAS) launched a contest for its nearly 200 Display Gardens to encourage new and exciting landscaping ideas using AAS Winners. Five years in, enthusiasm for the contest has continued to grow, helping bring more inspiration and excitement for gardening to the general public.

This contest is a landscape design contest using AAS Winners announced in the last five years with the option to incorporate more than 80 years worth of past AAS Winners. AAS Winners offer gardeners reliable new varieties of flowers and vegetables that have proved their superior garden performance in Trial Grounds across North America. Each display garden is responsible for creating and executing the design and generating publicity surrounding the contest. The gardens must then submit proof of publicity for the designed garden and AAS Winners, as well as an overall description of their design. All-America Selections is pleased that such a broad range of garden types have participated in the contest for 2015: large and small public gardens, seed companies, community gardens, master gardener programs and university gardens. All-America Selections sends kudos to all the participating gardens and their creative efforts to produce an attractive display of AAS Winners.

The rules for the 2015 Landscape Design Contest were the following:

  1. The 2015 contest theme was: “Geometry in the Garden.”
  2. The entry form must list the AAS Winners incorporated into the design.
  3. A minimum of 50% of the total landscaped area must be AAS Winners and labeled with the variety name, AAS Winner designation and if possible, use the AAS logo.
  4. The entry form must include a written description of the design in 200 words or less.
  5. Eight photographs of each garden must be submitted in digital form.
  6. Local publicity is expected and will be part of the criteria for judging.
  7. The contest is open to current year plantings only, not previous year displays.


The criteria and final score weighting were:


  • 20% on the overall attractiveness of garden design
  • 20% on the creative use of AAS Winners
  • 20% on the promotion of AAS and this contest
  • 20% on the photos and descriptions
  • 20% on the total number of AAS Winners used in the garden explanation


There were three categories, based on number of visitors to that garden in one year:


Category I: fewer than 10,000 visitors per year

Category II: 10,001 – 100,000 visitors per year

Category III: Over 100,000 visitors per year

Honorable Mention, “Best First-Time Entry” Garden: Idaho Botanical Garden, Boise, Idaho. Proving that a big budget isn’t required to build raised beds, this garden employed straw bales as its method to contain soil and grow gardens. They did a fabulous job at it, too! If the mission of a botanical garden is to inspire creativity in its visitors, this garden certainly hit the mark.

Read full press release…


What’s Blooming 9/21/2015


For many, the beginning of fall is signaled by the appearance of pumpkin spice lattes. But gardeners might take more notice of the rows of mums appearing outside every box store in the valley. If you like mums, but are tired of purchasing them year after year, consider the Aster. As one IBG gardener likes to call them, “the harbingers of autumn,” are just now coming into bloom. Reliable, hardy perennials, Asters provide a burst of late fall color as well as a last stop for pollinators before winter. Asters come in a variety of colors and sizes, and require very little upkeep. The only challenges with Asters are that many are susceptible to powdery mildew and taller varieties can become unwieldy; however, both of these problems are overcome by selecting the right variety.

AsterA favorite variety of Aster here at the garden is ‘Purple Dome’. Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ is an all-purpose Aster whose scientific name means “of New England”. Unlike New York Asters (Aster novae-belgii) New England Asters have thick stems and hairy leaves, and are generally taller. ‘Purple Dome’, however, has been cultivated to maintain a low, bushy habit, making it easier to care for than taller asters that might require staking. Covered in deep lavender flowers, this cultivar generally blooms from late August until frost. As an added, bonus, ‘Purple Dome’ is mildew resistant.

Another low grower is Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’. Compact, but resplendent with light lavender blooms all fall, ‘Monch’ typically grows to only two feet tall, making it a perfect plant for a perennial border, and is also resistant to powdery mildew.

Possibly the best thing about Asters is that, to keep them looking their best, they need to be divided every two to three years; this means, of course, free plants! After your initial purchase, you will have access to a continual supply of these hardy perennials forever!

If you want to learn more about dividing plants, come to our education class, “Divide and Conquer” at IBG on September 29th.

If you’re in search of an Intermountain native option in the world of Aster, Machaeranthera canescens, commonly known as hoary tansyaster or hoary aster might be just what you’re looking for. It is a highly variable species that occurs throughout the western portion of North America as well as in some north central states. It can be found in a wide variety of habitats, and is particularly common in dry and/or disturbed sites, shrub steppes, and meadows. It is native to the Boise Foothills and is one of the few late summer flowering plants in this region. It is considered a short-lived perennial, but it often acts as an annual or biennial. Its latin name “canescens” refers to the small, gray hairs that cover its stems. Its leaves are long and narrow and often have sharply toothed margins. Flower heads appear singularly or in multiples at the ends of branches. A series of small, light green bracts form a cup below each flower head. The flower heads consist of disc florets that are a striking yellow color and ray florets that are pale to dark purple.

Aster2Hoary tansyaster can be found throughout the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden, as well as in the Foothills Native Plant Garden, along the Wilderness Trail, and in our restoration areas.

So, if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck year after year, and desire a more naturalistic option than mums, consider choosing an Aster. You’ll love the color it adds to your fall garden, and the pollinators will thank you, too!


What’s Blooming 9/14/2015


Summers in the Treasure Valley are bookended by the yellow flowers of two of our most abundant native shrubs. In late spring, bitterbrush bursts into bloom and gives the foothills a creamy yellow hue. As summer comes to a close, the foothills turn yellow-gold with the flowers of rabbitbrush. With the rabbitbrush now beginning to bloom, it is clear that fall is imminent.

rabbitbrush1The two most common species of rabbitbrush in our region are gray rabbitbrush and green rabbitbrush. Both are in the sunflower family (Asteraceae) and are related to a couple of other well-known late summer/fall flowering genera, Aster and Chrysanthemum. Gray rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa), also known as rubber rabbitbrush, is a densely branched shrub that reaches an average height of 3 feet. Leaves are narrow and numerous, and stems and leaves are covered in short, white, felt-like hairs giving the plant a gray appearance.

Many plants in the sunflower family have inflorescences that are a combination of ray and disk flowers clustered tightly together and arranged in such a way that the inflorescence appears as a single flower. Consider sunflowers, for example. What appear as petals around the outside of a sunflower are actually a series of individual flowers called ray flowers. In the center of a sunflower are dozens of disk flowers. The flowers of gray rabbitbrush lack ray flowers, and instead are clusters of 5 or so disc flowers. The flower clusters form at the tips of each branch. When the plant is in full bloom, the flowers create a sheet of yellow-gold atop white-gray foliage – a sight to behold.

Native Americans used the flexible branches of gray rabbitbrush to weave baskets and the flowers to make dyes. The stems contain a latex sap (which explains the common name, rubber rabbitbrush). Native Americans would occasionally chew the stems to help relieve hunger and thirst. A tea was made from the stems to treat coughs, colds, chest pains, and toothaches, and bundles of branches were burned to smoke animal hides.

rabbitbrush2Green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus) is typically smaller than gray rabbitbrush, reaching a maximum height of about 3 feet. Its stems and leaves appear similar to gray rabbitbrush except they lack the dense, white hairs. The stems and leaves also have a stickiness to them, and the leaves are often twisted or curled. The flowers are clusters of 5 or so disc flowers (again, no ray flowers) that form at the tips of the branches. Both species of rabbitbrush are commonly found together in nature, and so growing together in a garden setting they look right at home.

All of our native shrubs have ornamental potential, but rabbitbrush is particularly high on that list. It provides year-round interest and can be easily maintained in an attractive form simply by cutting it back by a third or more each spring. If it becomes too large and gangly, it can be cut back nearly to the ground and will regenerate, quickly returning to a more manageable form. Its vibrant, yellow, late summer flowers complement those of goldenrod and help ring in the harvest season.

You can witness both species of rabbitbrush in full bloom this fall by visiting Idaho Botanical Garden and strolling through both the Idaho Native Plant Garden and the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden.


What’s Blooming 9/7/2015

Maximilian Sunflower

Helianthus maximiliani

 IMG_4158 Maximilian Sunflower is an herbaceous perennial native to the Great Plains regions of central North America. It is usually found in dry open areas such as prairies and bluffs. Helianthus maximiliani is hardy in zones 4-9 and grows 3-10 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide. Maximillian Sunflower is in the Asteraceae family and has a yellow composite flower which consists of disk and ray florets. It flowers August through September and reseeds freely. Cut it back after it flowers in the fall if you want to minimize reseeding. Maximillian Sunflower has long narrow leaves which are alternate, coarse, and covered with fine white hairs. This plant prefers full sun and can handle dry to medium water conditions. If overwatered it has the tendency to flop. To prevent flopping cut the plant down to two or three feet in June. It will grow in most soil types but prefers well drained soil conditions.

Maximilian Sunflower grows from a rhizome. The rhizome is edible and it provided food similar to Jerusalem artichokes for the Native Americans. Maximilian Sunflower also attracts beneficial insects and birds. Maximilian Sunflower is used as an ingredient in range seeding mixtures to provide high quality forage for livestock.   It also provides food and cover for wildlife. This sunflower is difficult for squirrels to climb so often birds get the seeds.

Helianthus maximiliani is a good perennial for the back of a border. It is a great addition to a garden because it is showy in the fall when most perennials are done flowering. Maximilian Sunflower is also great as a cut flower. You can find it at the IMG_4154Idaho Botanical Garden in the Herb Garden or near the Children’s Garden.


With Our Thanks…

Annual Nonprofit Excellence Nominees Announced

(BOISE) – Nearly 200 nominations from across Idaho have been received for the annual Nonprofit Excellence Award. The Idaho Botanical Garden is among them!

“We are so pleased with the fantastic response from the community and impressed with the many moving stories in the 2015 nominations.” said Janice Fulkerson, Executive Director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, which organized the awards. “We know that nonprofits make a difference in communities across Idaho every day and these awards recognize the contribution of the nonprofit sector.”
There were 197 completed nominations for 135 total organizations nominated across the state (some were nominated more than once). All nominated organizations will be recognized at the Nonprofit Excellence Awards Dinner in a presentation and on stage, September 15th, during the Idaho Nonprofit Center’s annual conference. Six (6) of the organizations will be honored with 2015 Nonprofit Excellence Award. Seating is limited and tickets are still available.
The Idaho Nonprofit Center represents the interests of the 5,500 charitable nonprofits in Idaho, the 52,000 nonprofit employees, and the 425,000 volunteers acting as a vehicle of information, a convener of leaders and allies, and a bridge between the nonprofit, public and private sectors.
Contact Janice Fulkerson at (208) 424-2229 or go to for further details about the Nonprofit Excellence Awards.


What’s Blooming 7/29/2015

Salvia officinalisThe genus Salvia is the largest in the botanical family, Lamiaceae (mint), with the number of species estimated to range from 800 to nearly 1,000. Salvias, commonly known as sage (not to be confused with the native Idaho sagebrush!), are easy to grow, usually right at home in sunny, well drained spots, and their toughness is matched only by their showiness. In addition, Salvia is an extremely important plant species for our pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love the tubular or bell-shaped flowers, which come in a wide range of colors and are borne on tall spiky racemes held above the foliage.

No matter what your gardening style, there is a Salvia to suit your needs. The most common is probably Salvia officinalis, the culinary herb sage, found in most kitchen cupboards. Outside of the kitchen, this is an ornamental, evergreen perennial which would make an attractive addition to any herb garden or perennial bed. Culinary sage comes in variety of leaf colors: from the basic grey-green, to a variegated green-gold variety, to the very attractive cultivar ‘Purpurascens,’ with green leaves variegated with purple. Culinary sages flower in shades of blue.

You can find a number of Salvia species throughout the Idaho Botanical Garden. Visit the herb garden to find the culinary variety. Many of our containers features salvias, both annual and perennial. Look for Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’ paired with dark purple-leaved sweet potato vine in containers on the Plaza. ‘Black and Blue’ is an annual cultivar that features deep cobalt blue flowers with black calyces. Flowers appear on foot-long spikes over a long mid-summer to fall bloom. Salvia darcyi_1

Other mixed containers on the Plaza include Autumn sage, or Salvia greggii. This salvia is native to Texas and Mexico, where it is a reliable, drought-tolerant evergreen small shrub. Here in Idaho, treat it as an annual or tender perennial, requiring protection in winter. Some cold-hardy cultivars, such as ‘Furman’s Red’ and ‘Wild Thing,’ have proven to be perennial at the Denver Botanic Gardens and have been successful here in Boise. Salvia greggii is a valuable nectar source for hummingbirds and butterflies. Red is the most common flower color, but it’s also available in pale yellow, pink, fuchsia, and white.

Salvia guaraniticaYou will find many more salvias in the areas of the garden that feature waterwise plants. The Plant Select beds include three outstanding Salvia species. Perennial Salvia darcyi (Mexican sage) ‘Vermilion Bluffs’ grows to be an impressive shrub, about 3 feet tall and wide. It blooms throughout the summer with bold crimson red flowers and truly deserves the often used title of “hummingbird magnet.” Also in the Plant Select beds, Salvia argentea, or Silver sage, is a spectacular foliage plant, with large felt-like leaves and white flowers on dramatic candelabra-like stems. Beetles can often be found pollinating Salvia argentea, as they are typically attracted to white flowers. A third salvia, Salvia pachyphylla, is known by many common names, including blue sage, rose sage, and Mojave sage. It has beautiful, aromatic silver foliage, topped with densely whorled bracts of purple surrounding delicate violet flowers. Salvia pachyphylla flowers from summer through fall and is extremely popular with native bumblebees, but also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Salvia pachyphylla is also on view in the BLM Firewise Garden.

Salvia dorrii, or Desert purple sage, is the classic “purple sage” of the western United States. You can find this salvia in the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden. Desert purple sage has aromatic silvery foliage and showy spikes of purple and blue flowers. It is a small, woody shrub, to about 18 inches, that blooms in late spring. Salvia dorrii is an especially valuable plant for native bees.

Salvia nemerosaSalvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ is planted in the Water Conservation Landscape, located outside the Garden’s gates along Old Penitentiary Road. This extremely showy salvia, with flowers of vivid blue held on dark purple-black stems, is popular with both butterflies and hummingbirds. Drought and heat tolerant once established, Salvia nemorosa is an early summer bloomer and is suitable for planting in beds or containers.

This is just a small sampling of the various members of the genus Salvia. They are versatile and colorful, and many are drought tolerant and low maintenance. In addition to these qualities, Salvias will attract a wide range of pollinators to your garden. What’s not to love about these remarkable plants?Salvia pachyphylla



What’s Blooming 6/22/2015

Bourbon, Hybrid Perpetual, Rambler, Modern Climbing, and Miniature Roses

Bourbon Rose

The Bourbon rose originated from a natural cross between a China rose and a Damask rose on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. The seeds to this rose showed up in Paris in 1891, and cuttings showed up not long after in 1821. The Bourbon rose has a re-blooming trait from the China rose and a strong fragrance because of the Damask rose. Thanks to these characteristics a whole new class of roses was born when the Bourbon rose was introduced. Read the article »


What’s Blooming 6/8/2015

Gallica and Damask Roses

6081The Gallica rose is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses. This rose was cultivated by the Greeks and the Romans and was commonly used in medieval gardens. It is native to central and southern Europe including France. It is a compact rose lacking a strong fragrance. The Gallica rose blossom ranges in color from rich pinks to purples. Read the article »


What’s Blooming 6/1/2015

An Introduction to Old Garden Roses

Rose1There are many types of roses in the world of plants. Wild roses, which are truly wild roses, are not usually cultivated. Old garden roses are roses of horticultural origin that were established before 1867, when ‘La France’, the first of the hybrid tea roses, was introduced. Modern Garden Roses are the predominant roses of today. Modern roses are in active development today by hybridists unlike a lot of the old garden roses. Here at the Idaho Botanical Garden in the Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden we feature roses bred and introduced before 1920. Read the article »


Idaho Botanical Garden Announces New Executive Director

May 5, 2014 (Boise, ID) –The Idaho Botanical Garden Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Wiersema as Executive Director. Wiersema was selected following a nationwide search and brings with her leadership experience in both the corporate and nonprofit arenas. She has established a record of achievement in leadership with local, regional and national charitable organizations.

Wiersema began her involvement with the Idaho Botanical Garden as a board member. In that role, she helped shape the current strategic plan which included defining the role of the Garden in the Treasure Valley, addressing sustainability and refocusing the vision for future growth.
Wiersema’s work as a board member and passion for the Garden led to her appointment in April 2013 as the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Development Lead, assisting the Garden in building a foundation and cohesive approach for effective fundraising.
Her extensive leadership skills and development background with nonprofit organizations make Wiersema ideally suited to lead the Garden into the next phases of growth. She has demonstrated the ability to work together with volunteers, staff , board members and our membership toward the realization of the Garden’s mission: To provide a full garden
experience for all ages that enhances community quality of life through plant collections, our education programs, and our entertainment, cultural and community events.
Wiersema’s passion can be seen as she talks about the Idaho Botanical Garden. “To me, the Garden represents an ever-changing, ever-growing community resource that is much more than ‘just a garden’, says Wiersema. “The Garden reflects the seasons of our lives as a place to
celebrate, and cultivate learning; a place to stimulate our mind and senses.”


2014 April Showers Bring May Flowers, a Plant Sale and a Free Day at the Idaho Botanical Garden

April 5, 2014 (Boise, ID) – The Idaho Botanical Garden is celebrating the start of spring by helping the community prepare.  Eager gardeners can attend hands-on classes, visit with local experts during National Public Gardens Day or purchase the perfect plant during the annual Garden fundraiser – Plant Sale.


Idaho Botanical Garden Plant Sale

Friday, May 2, 2014; 4:00 – 8:00 pm for Members only; Free admission.

Saturday, May 3, 2014; 9:00 am – 2:00 pm; Everyone welcome.

Half price admission: Garden members are free; General admission is $3.50; Youth 5-12 are $2.50; Children ages 4 and younger are free.


Local gardeners celebrate the first signs of spring by shopping for new plants at the annual Idaho Botanical Garden Plant Sale.   The horticulture team, with assistance from College of Western Idaho Horticulture Students, offers a variety of annuals, perennials and vegetables both new and old, that thrive in the Intermountain growing climates.  Guests are invited to take advantage of Garden’s horticulture staff to help select the right plant for specific areas.   Revenues support the year round operations of the Garden.


National Public Gardens Day

Friday, May 9, 2014; 9:00 am to dusk.

Free admission

The Idaho Botanical Garden continues its tradition of participating in National Public Gardens Day by offering free Garden admission – all day long.  The event is a national day of celebration to raise awareness of America’s public gardens and the role they play in promoting environmental stewardship and awareness, plant and water conversation and education.  Local partners will share information and resources regarding sustainable practices, garden design and tips that support conservation strategies.   Organizations that will be onsite from noon – 5 pm include:

Boise WaterShed

United Water

Madeline George Garden Design Nursery

National Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides

Cottage Gardeners

Willowglenn Landscape

Silver Creek Supply


Educational carts will also explain how carnivorous plants capture live food and why it’s important to plant pollinating plants for a healthy insect and eco system. As part of the Tomato Independence Project, we will offer a list of different tomato varieties and their best uses: canning, drying, sauces, juicing  and fresh eating.


Vendors Bel Cibo, brewery Crooked Fence and winery Indian Creek will be onsite from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm to satisfy hungry and thirsty Garden wanderers.  Free cake will be offered at 1:00 pm in celebration of the Garden’s 30th Year Anniversary. A small ceremony will take place to thank departing executive director Julia Rundberg for her vision, dedication and service to the Idaho Botanical Garden.


Old Penitentiary Historic District Neighbors, the Idaho Department of Mining and Geology, are hosting a free open house featuring guided tours, hillside geo-hikes, and a lecture by historian Troy Lambert titled, “ Out of the Deep Dark Lessons Learned from the Sunshine Mine Disaster.”    Visit for full details.


Continuing Education Classes:

The Idaho Botanical Garden offers more than 40 classes annually for amateur gardeners. These educational opportunities are perfect for do-it-yourself gardeners eager to learn best practices for lovely gardens that thrive in Idaho’s unique climate.  Classes celebrate healthy activities to connect with nature, to get active and unplug from daily stress.


Fairy Gardens: Adult and Child Workshop

Saturday, May 10, at 10:00 am in the Idaho Botanical Garden Cottage

Garden member pair is $15, Non-member pair is $20. Pre-registration required.


Create an imaginative fairy-sized outdoor container garden sure to entice any pixies wondering though your neighborhood. Plant a container with fairy-scale plants and construct fairy furniture using willow twigs and hot glue.


Free Wildflower Walks

Thursday, May 8, 6:30 p.m. and Thursday, May 15, 6:30 p.m.

Free. Pre-registration required.


Come join a celebration of wildflowers in Boise’s Foothills.  Guides will lead participants on a 1.5-2 hour leisurely walk on trails behind the Old Idaho Penitentiary. Native and not-so native species will be identified and discussed during the session. Attend one or both walks.


Tai Chi in the Garden

Saturdays, starting May 10, 9:30 a.m. in the Meditation Garden.

Free with regularly priced Garden admission – per session. Garden members are free; General admission is $7; Seniors and youth (ages 5-12) are $5.


Become centered within the invigorating morning sounds and scents of the Idaho Botanical Garden. Tai Chi, a meditative practice incorporating slow movement, has been described as magical and as poetry in motion. This popular class is suitable for beginners. The series will be held through September. No class on 8/23 & 9/13.


Paper Making Workshop

Saturday, May 17, from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. am at the Idaho Botanical Garden Cottage

Garden member are $30; non-member are $35. Pre-registration required.


All plant life is made of cellulose which is the main ingredient of paper. The paper making class, taught by master paper maker – Tom Bennick, will include handouts, examples of paper as an art medium, tools used, demonstration and the making of hand-made paper from various fibers.


The Science of Plant Color

Saturday, May 24, 10 a.m. in the Idaho Botanical Garden Cottage

Garden member $10; non-member $15. Pre-registration required.


Increase your appreciation of a garden’s beautiful colors through a basic understanding of how (and why) chemicals in plants interact with light to create color. We’ll also cover a few considerations for choosing and siting plants in ways that maximize enjoyment of their colors. Class includes a walk through the grounds to find examples of topics discussed.




Seasonal Hours and New Admission Rates:

The Idaho Botanical Garden welcomes spring by adding seasonal admission hours.  Visitors can explore the Idaho Botanical Garden 7 days a week from 9 a.m. – dusk, or 9 p.m.   Admission prices are Adults: $7, seniors and youth (ages 5-12) $5.  Members receive general Garden free admission year-round.



About the Idaho Botanical Garden:


The Idaho Botanical Garden began in 1984 and leases 33 acres from the state of Idaho with approximately 14 acres currently cultivated.  The Garden is located on land once known as #2 Yard of what were once Idaho’s Territorial Prison and later the first Idaho State Penitentiary.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is a private, non-profit corporation existing without state or federal funding. The Garden is completely dependent on tax-deductible contributions from community-minded citizens, corporations, foundations, and site rentals. The mission of the Idaho Botanical Garden is to provide a full garden experience for all ages that enhances community quality of life through plant collections, our education programs, and our entertainment, cultural and community events.

For more information call (208)343-8649 or visit


Early Spring Event Advisory

February 3, 2014 (Boise, ID) – Prepare for spring with hands-on classes, tour the Idaho Botanical Garden for plant selection ideas, and listen to inspiring speakers at our annual horticulture symposium as the Garden welcomes spring.   The educational opportunities are perfect for do-it-yourself gardeners eager to learn best practices for lovely gardens that thrive in Idaho’s unique climate.

Idaho Botanical Garden_Early Spring Event Advisory.Feb.2014



Rethinking Idaho Landscapes

The Idaho Botanical Garden and the University of Idaho continue popular and important community forum, Rethinking Idaho Landscapes on February 22, 2014. Keynote speaker, Toby Hemenway, will introduce the ecological design approach known as permaculture and shows how it can be used to create water-wise landscapes in dry climates. Read the article »


Gardening expert Ciscoe Morris to visit Boise to benefit Idaho Botanical Garden

27th Annual Garden Tour boosts six private gardens

June 12, 2013 (Boise, ID) – The Idaho Botanical Garden welcomes northwest gardening expert Ciscoe Morris to Boise and to the 27th Annual Garden Tour. The Garden Tour is Sunday, June 23, 2013 and features six Boise private gardens in addition to the Bureau of Land Management/ College of Western Idaho Fire Wise Garden adjacent to the Idaho Botanical Garden.

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Celebrate Fall with a Scarecrows Safari at the Idaho Botanical Garden

August 8, 2013 (Boise, Idaho) Enjoy the Idaho Botanical Garden as it transforms for the fall season. Celebrate cool evenings with a Scarecrow Safari throughout the garden with animal themed scarecrows peeking around corners for the sixth annual Scarecrow Stroll. New to the Continuing Education Program, the Vegetable Garden Tour, September 7, 2013, features different methods for growing vegetables in variety of settings such as an urban farm and private homes. And don’t forget to save the date for the annual Grow the Garden Party, Friday September 27, a playful fundraiser in the Garden featuring spectacular local food and cocktails, silent and live auctions and local music. Below are the September 2013 events:

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