Spring for a Day

LAH_5986The weather has been too nice. One might even think that Spring has come to stay. Usually, this time of year is marked by freezing cold and wet snowstorms. I’m sure the snow will return, but the past week or so has been so gorgeous, it would be easy to be deceived.

While I was thrilled to find some crocuses and a pair of early daffodils in our yard, they weren’t enough for this green-starved soul. Denver is almost 2,000 feet lower than my home in Colorado Springs—surely there would be flowers galore at the botanic gardens. With a storm in the forecast, I didn’t want to delay. I headed north.

LAH_5951My first impression was encouraging. The entrance was surrounded by daffodils at their peak bloom. Once inside, however, I realized that I may have been pushing the season just a bit. Sure, there were plenty of flowers, as these photos can attest, but most of the garden was just waking up and trying to focus. Still, it’s hard to go wrong when the sun is shining, the breeze is mild, and it’s a perfect 74 degrees.

The perennial borders were still mostly dormant, and covered with last season’s growth. I pushed further in, looking for any color besides brown. There, a bright yellow Korean Forsythia!

And over there, a dazzling white star magnolia, its huge flowers flopping over onto the still-bare branches.

LAH_5800The apricot trees were almost done already, one reason why they so rarely produce fruit. One frosty night can wipe out the entire crop. The crabapples still had desiccated fruit on the branches, surrounded by new growth. Clearly the flowers wouldn’t be along for weeks yet.

By far the stars of the show were the bulbs—diminutive “minor” bulbs such as crocuses, Puschkinia, Siberian squill (Scilla siberica), and checkered Fritillary (Fritillaria), as well as the aforementioned daffodils. (Only a few tulips were in already in bloom, but they were obviously gearing up for a major performance next month.)

LAH_5907Expansive drifts of sapphire-blue Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) brightened the space under still-leafless trees and nestled up against yellow daffodils, increasing the impact of both colors.

In fact, spring seems to specialize in shades of yellow and blue. Yellow cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), yellow primulas, yellow Iris reticulata. Blue forget-me-nots, blue hyacinths, blue Iris reticulata.


Violas don’t grow from bulbs, but they waste no time coming into bloom (I’ve even seen their flowers encased in snow in mid-winter)—so it was no surprise that they were totally covered with blossoms. The vibrant colors revived my winter-dulled spirits and I found myself with a big smile on my face. A nearby brick planter held their big sisters, pansies.

Pasqueflower is another very early bloomer, with Easter-purple flowers were surrounded by fuzzy silver foliage. Hellebores are more at home in the Pacific Northwest than in Denver, but they too added to the springtime ambience.

Most of the rock garden was still dormant, a disappointment, but a few showy flowers managed to fill the gaps. Rose-pink heath (Erica) is another plant I usually associate with the northwest, but it looked right at home spilling over the granite boulders. Corydalis, a relative of that old favorite, bleeding heart, preferred to keep its rose-pink flowers in the shade.

Tired and sunburned, I was ready for some shade too, plus rush hour is no time to drive through Denver. I had to admit that it was time to leave.

My weather app claims that we’re getting snow tomorrow night. Of course we are—it’s only March.


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