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The Horticulture Team – Favorite Plants & Memories

By: The IBG Hort Team | 02/09/2022

KRISTIN LITTLE, Horticulturist

Pick ONE favorite plant? Not possible.

I can give you a top three:

Borage officinalis (also known as a Starflower)
Geum avens ‘Totally Tangerine’ (also called Avens)

Bouteloua gracilis (Blue Grama)

If you ask me tomorrow, the answer will be different. 

A favorite memory:  I was backpacking with my father in the Pioneer Mountains when I was around sixteen. It was the first time I had explored the area.

When we arrived at our destination, Kane Lake, I was beyond stunned by beautiful field of flowers at the alpine lake. The flower that stuck out to me the most was Castilleja miniata, Indian Paintbrush. I could sit in that field staring at the plants, the waterfalls and the alpine lake for days. I’ve returned many times. 

Photos taken by Kristin Little

CARLEY BECK, Horticulturist

Pincushion flower (Scabiosa), it looks exactly like its name suggests!

DANIEL MURPHY, Collections Curator

My first job at a public garden was as a student worker at the University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden. Helping to plant new gardens and care for the plant collections was what inspired me to seek a career in public gardens.

I have a love for prairie plants thanks to the time I spent as a graduate student in Illinois. For a while, I worked at a nature preserve and part of my job was to help manage several acres of restored prairie. I particularly enjoyed seeing slickseed fuzzybean (Strophostyles leiosperma) – mostly because of its name – and its cousin, partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) – which I’ve had limited success growing back in Idaho.

Working with prairie plants in Illinois helped instill in me an appreciation for native plants everywhere.

NELL LINDQUIST, Greenhouse and Nursery Coordinator

Like most gardeners, it’s not possible to have just one favourite plant. However, one that is particularly close to my heart is the winecup (Callirhoe involucrata).

Also called poppy mallow or buffalo rose, winecups are native to my home in Central Texas. I used to dig them up from where they grew wild on my property and plant them close to my house, so I could enjoy them.

These tough, sprawling wildflowers are covered with vivid magenta flowers each Spring. They bloom for weeks and weeks and are highly drought-tolerant. Happily, winecups also thrive here in the Treasure Valley, where I continue to enjoy them.

They are also part of the Plant Select® program, which means this beautiful plant has a lot of admirers!

HANNAH HEGDAHL, Horticulturist

Here are some of my current favorite plants!

Current favorite houseplant: Silver stripe Philodendron

Current favorite plant in the garden: Berkheya purpurea Silver spikes

Current favorite bulb: “Queen of the Night” Tulip (planted these in containers for display in the garden)

(picture is Berkheya purpurea)

MICHELE LESICA, Horticulture Director

I feel like this is the hardest question to ask a plant lover but also the question asked most of a plant lover.  I keep coming back to lavender. 

We were unable to grow lavender successfully where I grew up so moving to Idaho, I fell in love with it.  I love its form, its flowers, how lovely it smells whether its flowering or not, it’s culinary and medicinal properties, and I love that bees love it. 

I have so many memories associated with lavender, sitting in a field of it, leaning up against it like an old friend, being one with the plant as your cut the flowers back and the bees are calmly flying around you. 

It’s also drought tolerant which makes it a perfect plant for Idaho!