Mary Ann Newcomer


I am a native daughter of Idaho, deeply rooted in the soil of the American West.  I grow gardens, I scout them high and low, and I write about those gardens and the act of gardening in the Intermountain West. I have written for Rocky Mountain Gardening, Country Gardens, MaryJane’s Farm, Fine Gardening, Leaf Magazine, the American Gardener, and newspapers across the region. I’ve designed public as well as private gardens, commercial landscape plantings, and those crazy gardens for flower shows. In this land of wide-open spaces, where it’s high and dry, I love encouraging gardeners to get down and dirty. Read More…

The Tango Border @ The Idaho Botanical Garden, established, 2019

The Land and Our Gardens

Gardening here is not for the faint of heart.

We love our part of the world for its stunning natural beauty. But the majesty and grandeur go hand-in-hand with Basin and Range topography: high altitudes and hot deserts, lean and mean soils, serious water issues, and a large population of voracious grazing creatures, with and without spines. Then, there’s our crazy-makin’ weather: rain, no rain, hail the size of golf balls, and temperature extremes that can drive a gardener to distraction.

Never fear, you are in good company. Many great gardeners went before us: not just our parents and grandparents but our great-grandparents and their ancestors who were pioneers and homesteaders across the Intermountain West. They survived and flourished here, feeding themselves and their families from their gardens and orchards and ranches with nary a watt of air conditioning or pressurized irrigation. They grew great gardens without the technology we rely upon to help lift the heavy load.

To the determined gardener in our region, a commentary from the late, great, Henry Mitchell, The Essential Earthman:

There are no green thumbs or black thumbs. There are only gardeners and non-gardeners. Gardeners are the ones who ruin after ruin get on with the high defiance of nature herself, creating in the very face of her chaos and tornado, the bower of roses and the pride of irises. It sounds very well to garden a “natural way.” You may see the natural way in any desert, any swamp, and leech-filled laurel hell. Defiance, on the other hand, is what makes gardeners.

Now, go ahead and dig in.

When I am not tending to my garden, I’m volunteering and doing garden design work at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise. You can see my public projects in the new book, “Under Western Skies,” by Jewell and Atkinson, Timber Press, 2021.

Holding the reins at:

Website & Blog (being reconstructed) :



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Oh, and there was that 14 year run as the Dirt Diva on the River Radio in Boise. I still pop in there from time to time, on 94.9 fm. I logged lots of airtime, too, with Debbie Cook on KIDO am. The American Horticulture Society profiled my work as “A member making a difference” in American Gardener magazine.

Best of the West