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You Can Grow It: Flowers that can win a blue ribbon at the fair

Jim Duthie revisits the 2019 Western Idaho Fair and shows us some of the winning floral entries.

BOISE, Idaho — Typically, this time of year, most of us are looking forward to the Western Idaho Fair, with the rides, the exhibits, and most of all, the delicious fair food, like funnel cakes, cotton candy and ice cream baked potatoes. And many Idaho gardeners start taking a close look at their gardens, deciding which flower or fruits or vegetables might win them a blue ribbon.

But not this year. The Western Idaho Fair was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions. So garden master Jim Duthie decided to show us some of the winning floral entries at last year’s fair. Hopefully, they’ll inspire you to try for a blue ribbon at the fair next year.

“The people are so inventive. You’ll see Julius Caesar over here with a head full of succulents. Some very cool massive logs where people planted succulent gardens. You’ll also see in our fairy and novelty gardens, miniature gardens, that there are some great things,” said Becky Burton.

With hundreds of entries of homegrown flowers and container gardens. Floral supervisor Becky Burton and her team spent countless hours putting them on display. Judges have chosen the winners and the ribbons have been awarded, and they’re all available for you to see and enjoy, and to be inspired by.

“It’s super easy to enter into the fair."

“It’s something as simple as going out the night before, cutting a beautiful stem out of your garden, let it drink overnight, bring it to the fair the next morning, and you may end up with a blue ribbon.”

And this year, some container gardeners really let their imaginations go wild, like this herb garden, planted in a vintage watering can. You could make some good spaghetti sauce out of that.

“This coleus, this colored leaf planting that we have here in front of us contains all kinds of different cool and unusual varieties. It happened to receive both a blue ribbon and a reserved best of show.”

A popular trend this year was in the succulent and cactus classifications.

“Here we have a blue ribbon winner made out of an old dust pan.”

“And you can see this person won first place in this category.”

“You’ll also see that a child’s old Tonka truck has been converted to a succulent garden.”

An old tree stump was transformed into an exotic garden, even though it’s filled with common, everyday succulent plants. It won multiple ribbons.

“Just inventive, creative, nothing hard… just all you need is your imagination.”

And speaking of imagination, the miniature gardens are some of the most popular container entries.

“Here we have a mini garden grown in just a big teacup.”

“It’s got little birds, a bird bath, a fairy. There’s all kinds of fun things.”

“This particular dish garden ... This was her first time entering. And all these gnomes as you can see are doing yoga.”

“Another special award winner is literally a milk crate, and the entire fair is laid out there. It’s an awesome use of materials and keeping up with the theme of the fair.”

“Whimsical and lots of fun. Each one has a story to tell which is what I love about it. And the genius that goes into it.”

And each of these containers were grown by home gardeners just like you.

“Oh, and these are all amateur gardeners. Obviously some of them are extraordinarily good at what they do. Usually they’re very passionate, and anybody can do this. They’re all grown right here in the Treasure Valley, they’re grown on somebody’s patio or yard, and they got these amazing results.”

Despite cancellation of most fair events this year, most of the 4-H and FFA youth exhibits, competitions, and sales will still take place. And plans are already underway for next year’s fair. 

Watch more You Can Grow It:

See them all in our YouTube playlist here: