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Tips & Tricks for a Lush Garden This Year

photos by Sara Mitton Cox, photos by Mark Dyrud

May in Boise means the last frost is finally behind us and it’s time for heavy planting. If you’re a gardener, you’re probably already seeing rows of delicate seedlings shoot up in the garden. Or maybe you’re working to fill your flowerbeds with an array of colorful blossoms.

I sat down with two gardening experts at Edwards Greenhouse— Garnette Edwards, Owner, and Anju Lucas, Nursery and Perennial Manager—to discuss tips and trends for the 2016 planting season, especially in Boise’s North End.

A large portion of Edward’s customers are North End dwellers. In fact, Lucas calls Boise’s North End the gardening capital of the city. But that doesn’t mean growing is easy there, explains Edwards. “That area is really a microclimate. There are so many large trees that the temperature and humidity is different from the rest of the city,” she reported. “It can be a 3- to 5-degree difference.”

Edwards has also found the soil to be different; it’s more neutral and slightly acidic. Plus, the mature trees provide a lot of shade, sometimes too much for certain plants, and can be especially challenging for vegetable growing. Their large roots can be a problem for planting as well, she explained.

“However, the cooler temperatures and shade in much of the North End means better growing for some plants,” said Lucas.

“Japanese maples, hostas, ferns, and rhododendrons can do very well.”

Overall, they said the big theme for flowers this year seems to be bold, intense color. “Orange has been huge the last couple years and continues to be,” said Edwards. The muted colors that have been popular before are now being replaced with colors like chartreuse and bright jewel tones.

“Vegetable gardens also continue to be huge this year,” said Edwards. “This is about the tenth year of the vegetable growing revival, and now people are reigning in the size of their gardens.”

Weeding and watering a huge garden is time consuming and hard work, so people are learning what is best for their families.

“One way to make things easier on yourself, is to plant in containers or raised beds,” explained Edwards. A lot of people living in the North End have success with container growing because you can decide where it will go, install a drip line, and not have to deal with nearly as many weeds. It can be fairly low maintenance.

“Just make sure the size of the container is suitable for the size the plant will eventually be,” said Edwards. This is a common mistake in container growing.

If you only have a little time for vegetable gardening or want to get the kids involved in growing, Edwards can recommend radishes and carrots. They tend to be foolproof and fun to grow. She also recommends tomatoes and peppers. If your family is going to eat them fresh, and not worry about canning them, two to four tomato plants will do. And about a half dozen peppers will be good for the typical family.

Edwards Greenhouse carries nearly 100 different varieties of tomato plants alone, so experts are on hand to help you make selections. For a full list of plant varieties at Edwards or for a recommended vegetable planting timeline, visit edwardsgreenhouse.com/plant-lists.