Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring in the City of Trees

Legend has it that Boise, Idaho got its name in the 1800s when a French-speaking guide yelled, “Les bois! Les bois!” (Translation: the trees, the trees.)  After weeks of walking through dry and rough terrain, the group was obviously delighted to see the wooded Boise River Valley – and get a little shade.  The name has stuck all these years later.

Boise -- nicknamed "The City of Trees" -- is the third largest U.S. city in the Northwest. Situated where the high desert meets the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, Boise is a mecca for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, biking and camping.

With a relatively mild winter and long growing season, the area also offers ideal growing conditions for many trees not to mention other plants. In fact, Boise has frost-free periods of 120 to 150+ days annually, according to Idaho Cooperative Extension.

And yes, Idaho grows a lot more than just potatoes. Peaches, apricots, apples and cherries are just some of the crops grown in this area.

Spring is a season when Boise really sparkles. Aside from all the blooming trees, there are the lovely lilacs. Any Idahoan will tell you that lilacs really love this climate.  (And we, of course, love them back...) The above lilac in my neighbor's yard is one example of how well this flowering shrub thrives in this area.
Tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs also perform well in this four-season city. Here's a clever way my neighbor displayed her flowering bulbs in the front yard.
At this time of year, wildflowers and grasses cover the rolling foothills that surround the city.
Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) is just one of the wildflowers you'll find on the foothills at this time of year. This perennial thrives in elevations from 4,500 to 7,000 feet.  Best of all, arrowleaf balsamroot is drought tolerant and has good winter hardiness. Although it prefers full sun, this plant will tolerate semi-shade. 
Not sure of the name of these delicate blue wildflowers, unfortunately. But look how pretty they are against the hillsides.
Katie Johnson (left) and Maggie O'Connor (right) show just how fun it is to run through wild lupines on a spring day in Idaho.
If you're lucky, you just might come across a field of purple and yellow lupines on a Boise foothill trail.  Surrounded by these wonderful wildflowers, be sure to take a deep breath and smell all the sweet scents. Then, take a moment to figure out how you can come back to visit Boise in spring again.  


  1. Stunning part of the world you live in there! I've always wanted to see a field of wild lupins, and with the blue foothils surrounding it, ZOW!

    I'm wondering if the blue flowers might be flax?

    Thanks for the info on the origin of the name, Boise!

  2. Sarah, You could be right. Perhaps they are flax... Thanks so much for nice comments. Hope you get a chance to see these lovely foothills yourself one day. Teresa

  3. Dirt Princess: Yes, Boise really is a lovely city, especially in spring and fall when the trees can really shine. Thanks so much for dropping by... Teresa

  4. Teresa, Thanks for the travelog in flowers. Boise looks like a beautiful spot. And I was also going to suggest flax for the flowers: delicate and blue.

  5. What a great plug for Boise. We deserve it, too.

  6. Kim and Victoria: Thanks for comments. You're right, Boise is a rather great place. Enjoy the rest of spring. Teresa

  7. Thanks, Helen. I think you're right -- those blue flowers probably are flax. Need to pay more attention when I'm hiking, but it's easy to get distracted by the beauty. Thanks for stopping by and hope you're return again.

  8. Wow, I'm very impressed with how well you are capturing this especially abundant Spring Boise is enjoying! Thanks for using my picture. Oh, by the way, I think the blue flowers you featured are bachelor buttons (common name).

  9. Hi Carol: thanks for sharing your nice picture of the arrowleaf balsamroot. Lovely shot, by the way.

    Hmmmh, so your vote for the blue flowers is bachelor button. Good guess, but I'm wondering if they aren't flax after all...
    Thanks for stopping by. Teresa

  10. Beautiful, just makes me sigh and smile! gail

  11. Thanks, Gail. Appreciated your comments, particularly as you're such a great photographer yourself. Thanks for stopping by. Teresa

  12. Absolutely gorgeous. The Boise CVB should have you do some work for them re: springtime visits!

  13. Hi Pamela: I agree - Boise CVB should hire me! ;) Seriously, I was worried I might be attracting TOO many people to Boise. Don't want it getting over crowded.. Thanks for stopping by. Teresa